The Northampton Town youth team, already confirmed Champions of the EFL Youth Alliance South East Division, travelled to Cambridge United on Saturday for their first game of 2019.
The Cobblers, missing the likes of Bradley Lashley, Scott Pollock, Ryan Hughes and Jack Daldy who are currently out on work experience, were edged out 3-2.
With those players missing, some of the Cobblers under 16 side were promoted to play in the under 18s, and produced a display that pleased under 18s coach Jon Brady.
"By the end we had a side made up of four first year players, four under 16 players and only three second years so it was a very young, inexperienced team," he said.
"But the boys did well. We were beaten by a deflected effort in the last minute but with some of the boys playing up the age groups, they will have learned a lot today and it was a good day for us as coaches to have a look at them and see how they coped playing up the age groups.
"With some of the under 16s moving up, we had some trailists in the under 16s today and we had a look at them too and that was also worthwhile."
The under 18s goals came from Morgan Roberts and Jack Newell.