Ross Eames felt Barnet were excellent as a reserve side comfortably beat Southend United 2-1 in a friendly at The Hive this afternoon.
Goals from Ryan Watson and Shane Cojocarel either side of half time sealed the win for the Bees who had the better of the chances by far.
"We were excellent – especially in the first half," Eames said afterwards. "In possession we dominated but not for the sake of it; we went forward, created chances and used the ball with intelligence.
"I said to the players that because we were playing in a 3-5-2 system I wanted width all the time. I told the forwards and wide players when they got the ball in the final third they had to make things happen.
"In the second half it was similar and once we went 2-0 up it was about game management. I thought the senior players who played with the youngsters were a credit today because they helped the youngsters through it."
The Bees set up in a 3-5-2 system and caused Kevin Maher’s Shrimpers problems in the wide areas. Eames believes playing in a different formation will be beneficial for the group in the future.
"It’s a good education for the players to play in a different system and it is good for their development. There will be times when we have to change it and if they are adaptable it can only be good for their football intelligence."
There were seven 17-year-olds in the side but Nana Kyei, Fumnaya Shomotun and Wesley Fonguck have made their first-team debuts, while Harry Taylor and Justin Amaluzor have featured for Martin Allen’s first team this season. And Eames is understandably pleased by the progress the group have made in the last year.
"We knew this group had so much potential when they were youth team players," he said. "When they stepped up were given their first-year professional deals it was an opportunity for them to progress. The manager gave them their debuts last year and it is now about us keeping on them.
"They have to stay in the zone, look to improve, learn and work hard. That is one thing which really strikes me about these players – they want to work hard. Once you get the principles and values right for them it is fantastic and that work is coming to fruition."
Another player who is gradually breaking into the first team is left-back Joe Payne. He was involved during pre-season, playing and scoring at Eastleigh, and was a substitute in Saturday’s abandoned game at Newport County.
"He is a player with a lot of potential," said Eames. "He has stepped up to the Under-21s this year but he is still a second-year scholar.
"He has grabbed his chance with both hands and really embraced it. He is a really hard worker with a great attitude. He is comfortable in possession and wants to defend which, in this era, can be something of a dying art.
"Jack Taylor is another one, a first year pro, who was on the bench against MK Dons. He is also really pushing. He is a great athlete with a good football brain. He is good on the ball and comfortable in a number of positions. The future is bright."
Watson almost broke the deadlock after 13 minutes when he bent a free-kick from 20 yards narrowly wide, the ball flying into the side netting.
Three minutes later a through ball from wing-back Daniel Cheema found the run of Cojocarel. But the forward couldn’t beat the Shrimpers keeper or force home from the rebound either.
In the 19th minute the Bees made the breakthrough their display had deserved. Shomotun got beyond his full-back and cut back for Watson to bundle home from close-range.
Watson nearly doubled up soon after, driving into the penalty area and testing the visiting keeper with a firm strike.
Shomotun, who had been a menace throughout the first half, then scampered down the right and cut back across goal to win a corner with several Bees players lurking in the middle.
Barnet returned with similar vigour after the break and good link-up play between Fonguck and Shomotun almost resulted in the latter firing home from close range.
On the hour mark the Bees did extend their lead and deservedly so. A fine through ball from Fonguck saw Cojocarel break Southend’s offside trap before rolling beyond the visiting goalkeeper.
Fonguck slammed wide from inside the area with 19 minutes remaining as the Bees looked the extend their advantage further.
Jamie Stephens was not called upon until near the end to make his first save of note, though Southend pulled one back with a close-range header at the death.
Barnet: Stephens; J. Taylor, Sesay, Payne; Cheema (Smith), Fonguck, Champion (c), Watson (Alexis), Kyei (Mason-Clark); Shomotun (O’Reilly), Cojocarel .