Barnet’s Under-18s have not played since the beginning of October but there was a big milestone recently when ten Academy products played in the Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Norwich City.
Martin Allen named a side with a blend of youth and experience and handed starts to Jack Taylor, Fumnaya Shomotun, Nana Kyei and Justin Amaluzor while Ephron Mason-Clark came off the bench.
It was a proud night for all involved in Barnet’s Academy and Under-18s head coach Dean Selvey lauded the achievement.
"It was fantastic and especially good for me having seen Ephron come here from Chelsea when he was 11," Selvey said. "He got released by Chelsea and when they come from a big club like that to a smaller club it can go either way: they either disappear off the map completely or see it as a new challenge.
"When he was an Under-11, along with Dan Cheema, Joe Payne and Darnell Smith, to see that full transformation from an 11-year-old to being in the first team against Norwich City was brilliant.
"I worked with Jack Taylor and Nana Kyei last year and I worked with Justin Amaluzor and did a bit of work with Fumnaya Shomotun. They are all getting there and it showed in parts how good they are. But it also showed that they are still coming through and there are things to learn.
"The sending off didn’t help and put them under a lot of pressure. But they competed fantastically and it was brilliant to see them out there."
Mason-Clark made his debut as a second-half substitute, despite only being a second-year scholar, and the exciting attacker has since moved on loan to Isthmian Premier Division side Met Police along with Shane Cojocarel.
Selvey says the chance to play men’s football will be important for Mason-Clarke. "We always get caught up in our little Academy bubble and everyone is comfortable playing against other Academy teams and the referees almost give you protection because it’s kind of nicey nicey," he said.
"I’m not saying I want Ephron to go out there and become this blood, guts and thunder kind of centre-forward or winger.
"It is always nice to go out and see a different challenge and see someone who is a little bit more physical, older, and maybe a little bit slower – but actually they are smarter and know the game better than the players you are playing against so they offer you a slightly different challenge."
Selvey’s Under-18 side are back in action this weekend when they host AFC Wimbledon at The Hive (kick-off 10.30am). You can hear Dean’s thoughts on that game, and more, by watching the full interview below: