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Development Squad

A terrific team performance - Johnson

The Development Squad chief was thrilled by what he saw from his side against Stoke

16 March 2019

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Damien Johnson hailed his side's performance and result after Rovers Under-23s defeated Stoke City 4-1 to advance to the last eight of the Premier League Cup.

Hayden Carter's opener was cancelled out by Nathan Collins' header, as the two teams went in level at the break.

But in a dominant second-half display, Rovers scored three goals without reply and produced some fantastic free-flowing football, from back to front, with Joe Rankin-Costello (2) and Jack Vale on the scoresheet.

"In knockout stages of cup competitions the result is obviously the most important thing, so it was pleasing to get the win and for long spells I thought we were terrific," said Johnson.

"We started the game well and then Stoke had a little spell where we just dropped off our levels a little bit, so at half-time we talked about stepping it up again and we did.

"All credit to the lads, because some of our play in the second half was terrific. All in all it was a good night.

"We know that we've got some good players and we worked hard in and out of possession. All four defenders either scored or assisted the goals, and it's good that they're being spread throughout the team."

Johnson reserved special praise for two-goal hero Rankin-Costello, who has been in fine form since returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, operating in an unfamiliar right-back role.

"Joe has got fantastic potential," added the Under-23s head coach. "It's credit to him that he can play in a number of positions.

"He's got great attributes, but most importantly he's an intelligent player.

"He gave himself every chance with how hard he worked and his application throughout his recovery was terrific and he's carried that on.

"He just needs to keep going and keep that quality and intensity to his play, no matter where he plays on the pitch, so I'm really pleased for him."

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