A poor start to the game against Aston Villa was a big reason Rovers bowed out of the Premier League Cup, according to Under-23s chief Damien Johnson.
On a frustrating night all round, where a recurrence of Harry Chapman's hamstring injury added to the woes of the Development Squad, Damien believes Kelsey Mooney’s opener just 40 seconds into the contest gave Rovers a mountain to climb at Villa Park.
Calum O’Hare’s goal late on ensured the hosts progressed and boss Johnson felt everyone’s disappointment at the end of the game.
“We’re disappointed with the result but we’re more disappointed with how we started the game, where we gave ourselves a lot to do,” Johnson reflected.
"We settled down and generally I think we did some good things in the first two thirds. We missed that final part, which is obviously very important in football.
“Unfortunately, for all our nice bits of play, we couldn’t get that final shot or final pass.
“How clinical can we be? The end product needs to be there. There are lots of us to get out of the game.
“They were more clinical than us and capitalised on our poor start. The second goal was a clinical finish to kill the game.
“We huffed and puffed but ultimately it wasn’t to be. We still have lots to play for in the league and we have to keep our heads up and dust ourselves down for Tuesday night.”
Chapman lasted just 10 minutes of the game in his first return to action in five months and Johnson was gutted for the Middlesbrough loanee, who was visibly upset at having to come off.
But a positive for Johnson was the performance of Jack Vale, who, fresh from signing a first pro contract, is someone who can add plenty to the team when called upon.
“It’s really disappointing for Harry, who’s worked extremely hard to return,” Damien added. "He’ll be assessed and our thoughts are with him.
“Jack’s the type to unlock a door, create and score. The more exposure he gets to this level, hopefully we can develop him. He’s one we feel has plenty of potential."