WITH their Evo-Stik Division One North status preserved for another season, Radcliffe Borough boss Danny Johnson had his eye on the club's future when they played their final game of the campaign at Droylsden last Saturday.

The Stainton Park manager emphasised his belief that youth could be the key next season by giving semi-professional debuts to two of the club's academy stars in the 4-2 defeat.

Central midfielders Ben Oldroyd and Adam Henshall, both 17, were promoted to the first team in March following impressive performances in the NPL Football Academy, and while Johnson insists the youngsters are still at the development stage he felt the duo deserved to be rewarded for their hard work this season.

"I wanted to give them a taster of semi-professional football so they both came off the bench for their debuts in the second half," he said.

"They've worked really hard for the academy so for them to come on for the last 20 or 30 minutes was like the cherry on the cake for their season.

"They are young and still have a lot of developing to do but they will join us for pre-season and we will see how they handle that.

"With finances at the club particularly tight, developing youth and bringing them through could well be the key for us next season."

Debutant Daniel McLoughlin had given Boro the lead against his former club on 10 minutes but Michael Monaghan equalised just nine minutes later.

A Ciaran Kilheeney brace either side of half time looked to have put the game beyond Boro.

But a Richard Smith penalty 10 minutes from time gave the visitors some hope. However, Kilheeney completed his hat-trick with four minutes remaining to seal the win for 10th-placed Droylsden.

It was a disappointing end to the season for Johnson, who had seen his side pick up seven out of the previous nine points.

"It was perhaps one game too many for us," he said.

"We made two or three changes to the side and Matthew Davies, who has been magnificent for us this season, was suspended.

"It was a typical end of season game. We deservedly went 1-0 up but after that everyone seemed to switch off.

"There were a lot of positives to take from the game, and I can't complain too much as the lads have done the business for us this season, but obviously it would have been nice to have ended the season with a victory."