YOUTH team coach Terry Pashley believes Burnley’s starlets were dealt a harsh football lesson in their Lancashire FA Youth Cup final defeat to Preston.
After missing out on the Youth Alliance League North West Division title by a point to North End, the young Clarets were hoping to have something tangible to show for a season in which they also reached the FA Youth Cup semi finals for the first time since 1978.
But Pashley said a below-par performance was to blame for them walking away with nothing, after losing 1-0 at Deepdale on Wednesday night.
“I’m annoyed with the way they’ve gone about it,” said Burnley’s youth team coach. “It looked to me as though they just had to go out and turn up and win the game.
“That’s not going to be the case and I’ve let them know that.
“Cup final or no cup final, as good as they’ve been (this season) I will always be honest with them.
“I will praise them when they deserve praising and I will let them know the truth when I think they’ve come up short, and they came up short on the night.
“Preston are a hard working side and they’ve got some good players. They imposed themselves on us and it looked as though they wanted to win the game more than we did.
“That’s the top and bottom of it. We were just a shadow of ourselves, which was really disappointing.”
On their FA Youth Cup journey, Burn-ley came from behind to beat Academy sides Ipswich, West Brom and Fulham.
The extra games and a backlog of fixtures as the season came to a close put extra strain on their small squad, which includes only 13 outfield players.
But Pashley refused to use an unusually busy season as an excuse for their lacklustre performance.
“It’s a cup final. If you can’t drag a little bit more out for a cup final then when can you?” he said.
“I don’t accept that one little bit, tired legs.
“We didn’t perform.
“We didn’t deserve to win and we got absolutely what we did deserve, which was nothing.
“It was very disappointing.
“It’s a great shame.
“But it’s about learning to win football matches. I know it’s youth development but that’s a part of learning.
“A lot of them are going to be professionals next season. They’ve got to learn how to win football matches.
“If they want to be professional footballers they’ve got to show us that.
“Those in the first team aren’t just going to hand over their shirts, the lads have got to earn them.”
Pashley admitted it was a disappointing way to end what has otherwise been an enjoyable season.
“It has been a successful season,” he said.
“At the end of it I still believe we’ve got a lot of good players, and we have achieved what we wanted to achieve, which is producing players.
“For 90 per cent of the season we’ve been excellent, but you play to the last minute of the last game in every season.”