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Successful from start to finish

17 May 2016

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Billy Barr has praised his Under-18 side after a hugely successful 2015-16 campaign.

The young Rovers excelled in both the league and the cup last term, earning a place in the top tier of the end of season play-offs after a fourth-placed finish in their league, whilst reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup before losing out to eventual winners Chelsea.

And whilst many of the Academy scholars have moved up to gain experience in representing Damien Johnson's development squad, the younger ones who have stepped in have more than played their part, much to the delight of Barr.

"From the first game to the last, our objectives have been reached," said the Under-18s coach. 

"To have finished in the top four of our group in league, to get to a FA Youth Cup semi-final, and then to finish well in the top tier play-off group is great.

"Ten of the Under-18 group are now becoming Under-21 professionals.

"But the pleasing part is that at the back end of the season, where we were predominantly a squad full of first years, the football has been really good.

"They've had to watch the others and wait for their chance, but they've done really well, so for some of them the end of the season has come at the wrong time.

"But the sumer now is about rest and reflection, the first years know what to expect from day one, they'll come back next year trying to earn a professional contract.

"For the Under-16s, they will be like rabbit in the headlines when they start, we know that, but it is how quickly they get into the mode of being an elite Academy footballer.

"They'll be moving away from home, leaving friends and family behing, they'll now have new friends who will also be their main competitors.

"They've to give it their best shot for the next two years, it goes quickly and hopefully they'll still be with us at the end of those years."

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