Mike Sheron was delighted with the display from Rovers Under-23s in their 3-1 victory away to Southampton on Monday night.
Rovers had no fewer than 10 players unavailable through injury, illness and involvement with the first team, but Sheron’s youthful side produced a fantastic performance to pick up the points, which moved them up to sixth in Premier League 2 Division 1.
Fine first-half strikes from deadly attacking duo Dan Butterworth (2) and Jack Vale saw Rovers race into a three-goal lead, before the Saints netted a consolation from the spot after the break.
“We were very young,” said Sheron, who took the team in the absence of Under-23s head coach Billy Barr.
“I think the average age for our starting XI was just 18 years and nine months when we added it up.
“It was great to have Dan Butterworth back and I think he inspired Jack Vale, who probably produced his best performance of the season. I thought he was great, especially out of possession.
“It was nice to get some game time for Tom White and Ben Paton, who haven’t had a lot of game time this season through injuries and selection problems.
“We also had two scholars playing, which is great to see, and it was a very good night all round, but it always helps when you score in the first 14 seconds!”
Sheron reserved particular praise for promising young striker Butterworth, who marked his comeback from injury with a brilliant brace.
“Any team is going to do better if you’ve got goalscorers in the team and I think a lot of frustration came out in Dan,” he added.
“His two finishes – one with his right and one with his left – were clinical and of the highest level and it was great to see that desire and work ethic and determination to make an impression.”