Billy Barr felt there were plenty of encouraging sings in Rovers Under-23s’ Premier League International Cup victory over Newcastle United on Friday night.
Rovers raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from John Buckley and Harry Chapman, before a brace from Newcastle skipper Thomas Allan drew the sides level.
But Buckley netted his second goal of the game 15 minutes from time to secure the spoils for Rovers, who produced a dominant first-half display and were worthy winners in the end.
“In the first half, I think we had 12 chances and they had two – one was the penalty and one was a shot from outside the box,” said Barr after the game.
“Bucko alone could have had a hat-trick inside 14 minutes! It was a really, really positive and encouraging start.
“And then we lost our way around 25 minutes. We started doing things that we weren’t doing and we lost our flow.
“I told them that at half-time and it was always going to be a different game in the second half, playing into the wind and them coming out with their tails up, but in the end I think we deserved the win, especially from the first-half performance.
“An encouraging end to the calendar year.”
Rovers created countless clear cut chances in the first half, with Buckley – the star of the show – and Jack Vale linking up to devastating effect.
Barr added: “That’s probably the best a 9 and 10 have combined all season for us. I thought Bucko was outstanding for most of the night and Jack looked a different player with Bucko there.
“So there were really encouraging signs and people have got game time, which is the biggest thing, and they’ve done well with it, so positives all round.
“I thought Bucko was the best player on the pitch by a long way. I’m delighted for him that he’s got two goals and to get two goals in 90 minutes is probably better than he hoped for before the game.”