Notts County youth team learnt a number of valuable lessons in their weekend fixture with Bradford City youth team.
The Bantams opened the scoring with a long-range screamer and doubled their lead late into the first half, following a lapse of concentration.
Malachi Lavelle-Moore pulled a goal back from the penalty spot and Liam Guest netted with a header from a corner to deservedly get Notts back onto even terms.
The young Magpies looked likely to be the only victors but another slip led to Bradford making it 3-2 from the spot, which was enough to take maximum points.
“I thought we were going to go on and win, because we were on top, they were on the rack and had become a bit ragged,” said Academy manager Mick Leonard.
“We couldn’t get that third goal, despite hitting the post and having numerous chances, then, low and behold, five minutes from the end, Monty Parks, our young goalkeeper, who had played well throughout the game, his boot split.
“We didn’t know at the time but it hindered his kicking and he miscued a goal kick and our centre-half wasn’t watching the ball.
“It’s something we teach our players, whether it’s in play or out of play, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball.
“That’s an old Jimmy Sirrel adage – ‘always look at the ball, even if it goes into row Z’.
“It’s hit one of our defenders on the back and gone back towards our goal, then their striker has got in behind and it’s led to a penalty and they’ve scored.
“There’s a lesson to be learnt - basic things in football – that you’ve got to stay focused for 90 minutes and keep your eye on the ball.”
Leonard remained upbeat about his team’s overall showing and added: “I’ve come off the pitch with nothing but praise for the players because they’ve worked hard, played with enthusiasm, played with flair and inventiveness in the set plays, and passed the ball well.
“They’ve played well but they just haven’t got the result on the day, though that’s youth football and we continue to do the right things.”
The youth team are in action again on Tuesday afternoon, when they will take on Hull City at the Highfields training facility (1pm kick-off).
“We can have a big bearing on who wins the league, because if we get a result against Hull, Doncaster will win the league,” said Leonard.
“If Hull beat us, then they will probably go on and win the league, but it will be a tense game but we’ll give it our best shot.”
For full details about attending the game and the upcoming Midland Youth Cup Final against Walsall, click here.