YORK City boss Colin Walker praised his teenage quintet Adam Boyes, Josh Radcliffe, Liam Shepherd, Andy McWilliams and Josh Mimms after last night’s 1-1 draw with Leeds United.
Centre-back Radcliffe enjoyed a solid 30 minutes in his first senior outing against full-time opposition for the Minstermen as he was introduced along with fellow first-year professionals Shepherd and McWilliams during the second half of last night’s match.
Second-year scholar Boyes, still just 17, almost won the game for City with a late chance after Onome Sodje had cancelled out Jermaine Beckford’s goal in the first half.
Mimms, meanwhile, had to run the gauntlet of 2,287 lively-spirited Leeds fans behind his goal after replacing Michael Ingham on the hour.
Ingham was alleged to have been struck by a golf ball prior to his replacement although the substitution was not related to the incident and he was not injured.
About the performance of his youngsters in front of a 4,405 crowd, which could prove bigger than any the Minstermen muster during their Blue Square Premier campaign, Walker said: “It was a great experience for Josh Radcliffe and he did really well and the same can be said for Andy McWilliams, Liam Shepherd and Adam Boyes who nearly scored the winner.
“We are big believers in letting these kids learn how to do their job and you can’t create how it feels to play in front of a big crowd against Leeds in training. They will want to do it again now.
“I always had the idea of putting Josh Mimms on and he will go back to his dad Bobby now and tell him what it was like playing in front of all those Leeds fans. His dad will say that’s what I’ve been telling you but now he’s done it himself.
“It was an absolutely top-class following from Leeds even though we might have lost a few footballs that went in there in the second half. There were more than 2,000 of our fans as well, which is brilliant for pre-season and I hope they all come back.”
Former Exeter and Weymouth winger Lee Elam played as a trialist for City in the first half and will be given a second chance to impress against Middlesbrough next Friday.
Walker said: “He ran out of puff with ten minutes to go in the first half but I’ve asked him to come back if he can because he’s on a coaching course next week as well. He’s 31 and I thought he was a bit younger but he’s looked after himself and I was quietly impressed with what he did. We can’t do anything yet though.”
David Brown, Anton Foster and Nathan Fisher, meanwhile, have moved on after playing for City against Tadcaster. Said Walker: “They did not let themselves down but they are not quite what we are after.”
The City boss added his decision to play a back four in the club’s first two pre-season games does not necessarily mean a permanent shift from the three-man defence he favoured last term.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of new players, especially in midfield. When you play with three centre-halves, the midfield players are the key to it working and we have to teach them that.
“It’s easier for them to go out and play in front of a back four.”