Heanor Town boss Glen Clarence believes the club and its fans have a part to play in nurturing the young talent coming through the ranks.
Clarence’s message came after the Lions’ 4-2 win over Westfields which came on the back of two defeats away from home in the Midlands Premier Division.
The win, significant in that it was over a team pushing fourth in the table, was sealed thanks to goals from Jay Cooper (2), Nathan Benger and Jack Warner.
It firmly put consecutive losses to Brocton and Coventry United to bed and sets Heanor up for Saturday’s trip to Highgate United, who Lions beat 2-0 in the reverse fixture.
Clarence said: “We’re looking forward to a tough test again.
“I think the credit has to go to the fans again today (Saturday). I’ve said in my programme notes to bear with us. When you’ve got a lot of young kids coming in to play at a good level of football on boggy pitches, when some of them have been playing on 3G pitches, is tough.
“They need the fans to get behind them. I think at times there are some that are guilty of not doing that, certain people. Today they did. The lads have to give the fans something to get behind and they certainly did that. But take nothing away from how important that is for a young kid - if you have a bad touch or a bad pass someone gets on at you, you’re going to be scared.
“That’s where we can help these kids come through.
“Next week is going to be a test, another tough surface. We’ve got a young squad. We’re missing four players that would get in any side in this league or above. It show how depleted we were as a squad and how well the youngsters coming in have done.”
Clarence was without Elliott Reeves, Kieran Debrouwer, Chris Smith and Nick Hall from Saturday’s win.
Benger celebrated his 250th appearance for the club with a well-taken penalty and there was another notable milestone - 19-year-old Alex Brown playing in his 50th.
And Clarence said the club would find it difficult to keep hold of Brown if he continues to produce the type of performances he has in his first 50 games at Step 5.
“We saw Browny very early,” said Clarence. “Not just his ability but more his attitude and the mark of the lad really. He’s made of the right stuff.
“You get a lot of kids with, no disrespect to Browny, but with a lot more ability but they won’t go as far as Browny and Browny will go a long way. It’s attitude, it’s ability and it’s brains.
“I just want to say well done to Browny. To play 50 games at 19 is immense. I’d love him to get to 250 games for Heanor Town. The way he’s done in the last couple of years I think we’ll struggle to keep hold of him.”
Brown said: “I’m happy playing football, playing with all these experienced players around me at a high level and I just want to learn from them, improve my game and most importantly play football.
“I’m happy to be playing my football and hopefully keep on improving with Heanor Town.”
And added: “Most definitely we’ve got some hard games coming up. We’re going to dig hard and dig deep, try and keep a bit of form going and drive forwards through these next few games.”