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Ben Dale savouring first team experience

By Bradley Saxton | 8th April 2022

York City Youth Team defender Ben Dale was over the moon to be involved in the recent run in the Buildbase FA Trophy, where he was named on the bench for the trips to Dagenham & Redbridge and Bromley.

The 18-year-old is currently a second-year scholar at the football club, and he feels that the recent opportunities he has been given has really improved his game, as he looks to secure a professional contract with the club this summer.

John Askey has given the young defender first team opportunities this season after he has put in consistent performances in the heart of the defence for Tim Ryan’s U19’s side this season in the National League Alliance Academy North.

Speaking about his recent progress, Dale said: “Overall, I’ve been flattered that I’ve been given the opportunities that I have been given recently.

“I’ve felt very welcome into the first team by the whole lads, it’s been a surreal experience so far and I feel I have learnt so much in just a short space of time from these opportunities.

“Chances like this make you believe in yourself a lot more; you feel like you know you’re doing something right which helps your confidence massively on the pitch.”

Despite the club being knocked out of the FA Trophy semi-finals by Bromley last weekend, Dale admitted that the quarter-final tie against Dagenham stood out most for the young defender, after being stood on the side-lines during the dramatic penalty-shootout win.

“The penalty shoot-out was honestly so nerve-racking, even though I wasn’t on the pitch, it was still a privilege to be involved in the whole day at Dagenham,” added Dale.

“From travelling down with the boys overnight to the celebrations at the end, it was honestly one of the best feelings I’ve felt in a long time. 

“It was surreal and again it’s a learning curve for myself just seeing how much it meant to the supporters, it was just a shame we couldn’t get over the line last weekend at Bromley.”

Whilst he still waits for his first-team debut, he admitted that the step up from youth football to the men’s game is a big step, but he feels that being amongst the first-team recently has helped with his development and knowledge of the game.

He added: “All of the boys at this level who have had a chance in the first-team will admit that it’s a much faster pace in the men’s game, the speed of the game flows much faster and you have to be switched on at all times. 

“There’s more to think about with the movement of players and coaches will be at you more at that level to help you, that’s ultimately going to help benefit my game and help me learn to where I need to improve. 

“Sam (Sanders) made me feel very welcome when I first came in with the squad, he also plays at the back, so it was good for me to learn some stuff off him.

“Mitch (Hancox) was also brilliant with me; he always talks me through my game in training and helps me out in areas where I need to improve on.

“But the main person who helped me was Scotty (Barrow), with my defending he was the one who I felt gave me the best advice, which has really helped with my confidence.”

With only three games left for the U19’s now in the league, Dale hopes to use them games to put in more good performances, in hope of himself earning a professional contract at the end of the season.

“I feel like I have grown as a player over the past two years in these academy games.

“In first year, you tend to get pushed about a fair bit by the older lads, which help you develop ahead of second year, where you’re expected to lead on and help guide the new intake of lads.

“At the start of the year, I’ll admit I was slacking and I could have been putting more into my game, but both Tim (Ryan) and Dan (Wilson) both told me which helped me push on and improve as a player.

“Tim’s been really good with me in particular, he’s been at me with my heading constantly and it’s helped as I now feel more comfortable during games.

“The main focus now has to be focusing on our three remaining games in the league and I’ll be ensuring that I put in my all for the remainder of the season.”

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