Port Talbot Town’s Head of Youth Mark Pike has expressed his satisfaction with the quality of his Development squad that have finished their first season in the FAW’s Development League South.
Despite suffering from a long injury list near the end of their campaign, Pike’s squad ended their season with a 2-1 win over Aberystwyth Town.
“The season as a whole has proved to be very difficult, with so many Welsh Premier League clubs using the Development league rule allowing a limited number of over-21 players to play.” Pike told the official Port Talbot Town website.
“The youngsters have had to dig in and compete against experienced players. I do not think this year I have selected the same squad twice never mind a starting-11, despite all the challenges in our we we’ve managed to get through it – the youngsters have developed superbly in their first season at this level.
“Where we were at the start of the season compared to the last few weeks – the standards are miles apart. This is what we are here for, developing the youngsters to one day be in the Senior squad, this is what it’s about. It’s not about winning – although while we love winning – it is more about development.
“This year we pushed 8 players through the development squad and into first-team, with another 5 leaving the Academy for lack of game time with the first in the Welsh Premier League.
“This put a massive strain on youth development but we got through it, the season as a whole has been hugely successful. We were quarter-finalists in the FAW Youth Cup – narrowly losing to Newport County in extra-time. We then made the semi-final of the South Wales Senior Cup – losing 2-1 to a Taffs Well first-team, who play in the second-tier of Welsh football.”
With the departure of manager Andy Dyer from the first-team, rumours have been rife suggesting Pike may be next up for the job – the Head of Youth has played down the rumours however.
“This year has been a mental and physical drain for me, for so many reasons.” Pike continued. “Hopefully the club will appoint the right man to lead the first-team in the coming days and we’ll see where that takes us.
“My season is still not over and still very much focused on reaching a cup final, with a semi-final to play for next Sunday away at Cardiff Metropolitan, please show your support of the youngsters next weekend – without them, as a club and as a senior team, we would have certainly struggled no end.”