Pearce: 'We're relishing the challenge'


Jason Pearce is hopeful that his U18s side can carry their excellent form into the Professional Development League Two play-off semi-final against Barnsley on Saturday.

“The run we’ve been on towards the end of the season has been impressive,” he told CharltonTV. “The players have done really well so they’re in a good place. We’ve tried to look to manage certain players to make sure they’re fresh. It’s exciting, we’re relishing the challenge.

“At first-team level, sometimes you go into the play-offs and the team that’s been on the best run, or maybe just gets into the play-offs, goes on and does really well. With the run we’ve been on, we’re full of confidence. The mentality’s got to be right - we’re not overconfident - but we’re in a good place, and I back the boys.”

The U18s have already beaten Barnsley this season, as well as both of their potential opponents in the final, but Pearce insisted that they are preparing solely for Barnsley, and that their preparation will be the same as always despite having lost to the Tykes on penalties in the play-off final last season.

“We’re not interested in Birmingham or Bristol City because it means nothing unless we get through,” he explained. “Our full focus and attention is on Barnsley.”

The match will take place at Sparrows Lane - with Valley Gold members able to attend and supporters also able to stream the clash for free on YouTube - though Pearce believes his side cannot rely solely on home advantage.

“It’s nice to be at home - we don’t have to travel - but anyone can beat anyone in a cup game, so we’ll just be preparing for it exactly the same as any game,” he said.

A lot of Barnsley’s preparation will no doubt be focused on stopping Patrick Casey and Micah Mbick, who each have 42 goals this season.

“It’s the team that’s most important. You can’t just always rely on individuals, and I’ve made that clear to those two players,” he revealed.

“But they have got certain attributes and goalscoring abilities which they’ve showcased this year which have been unbelievable to be honest. They’ve scored over 80 goals between them this year, at various levels.

“So they’re special talents. They both have different ways of playing which hopefully means they can complement each other. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play together.”

Supporters can watch every kick of Saturday's play-off semi-final for free on the club's YouTube channel (KO 2pm BST).

Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club’s academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.

Click here for more information on how you can become a Valley Gold member.

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