Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Development Squad

Damien: The goals came at crucial times

Johnson rues Rovers' game management, but admits positives can be taken from Saints defeat

5 December 2017

Sponsored by

Rovers' Under-23s Head Coach Damien Johnson felt his side were unfortunate to lose their Premier League Cup game at Southampton on Monday evening.

The visitors had their chances to get something from the game, but Yan Valery's goal on the stroke of half time saw Rovers go 1-0 down at the break.

Matt Targett's free kick less than 10 minutes into the second half gave Rovers a mountain to climb, but Johnson was adament his side deserved more as the visitors slipped off the top of the table in Group B - with the Saints moving to the summit.

"We weren't at our best but I don't think we deserved to lose it," Johnson reflected.

"The first goal was a poor one to concede. We didn't deal with the ball in the box and couldn't see out the half which was frustrating.

"They capitalised on it, it was the last kick of the half. It was a poor goal and a poor time to concede from our perspective.

"The second goal was a bit of quality from Matt Targett. You can't give players like Targett free kicks just outside the penalty area as they'll punish you.

"We huffed and puffed but didn't get the breaks or the ball dropping for us in vital areas at times.

"Overall we're disappointed to lose, but we have them to come to us and have plenty of games left to ensure progression. There were certainly some positives to take from the game."

Targett was one of a couple of players in the Saints XI who have played Premier League football, but Johnson has belief in his side going up against players of that calibre.

"We relish going up against those sort of players," Damien admitted.

"Whoever they put out we believe we can do well against. We should have been a bit more clinical really when the chances did come our way.

"We want a reaction to this and to maybe go on another run just as this one ends."

And Johnson concluded that he was thrilled with the commitment shown from his troops down on the south coast.

None more so than Lewis Travis, who played for the first team against Crewe Aexandra before showering, changing and heading down to Hampshire with David Dunn on Sunday evening.

But Johnson may have to be more patient on attacking midfielder Joe Rankin-Costello.

"We had a couple of concerns going into the game," Johnson confessed. "The gaffer mentioned that Lewis would be on the bench for the Crewe game and could make it down to Southampton for our match. Sam Hart was another who travelled down late the night before.

"It's important that youngsters keep playing games and it's great that the lads are allowed to do that by the manager.

"Joe Rankin-Costello's coming back from groin injury so it's just one of them. We don't want to rush him back.

Johnson's Rovers side are next in action against Reading back in PL2 on Monday 11th December at Lancashire FA HQ in Leyland, kick-off at 7pm.

Advertisement block