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Development Squad

Barr buoyed by second-half showing

U23s coach pleased to see Brad Lyons reap the rewards, as he fires Rovers to victory

14 December 2020

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Billy Barr says Rovers’ dominant second-half display was what pleased him the most, as his young charges came from a goal down to defeat Liverpool 2-1.

Rovers trailed at the break to Sepp van den Berg's early strike, but Brad Lyons’ brace in the space of five second-half minutes turned the contest in the visitors’ favour.

The result saw Rovers return to winning ways and move them to the top of the Premier League 2 Division 1 table.

“When you sit back and reflect, you’ve gone to Liverpool, you’ve had more possession than them on their home patch and that’s the most pleasing thing for me. The result for the lads and the possession stats for me,” said Barr.

“We huffed and puffed first half, we weren’t fantastic, so a few words were said at half-time and then at the end of the game it’s far better.

“For half an hour in the second half I thought we were really good. The ball retention, asking questions of the opposition, we were dominant. We probably spent most of that half an hour in the Liverpool half.

“The last 15 minutes we took our foot off the gas a bit and it became a bit end-to-end. Liverpool had some opportunities and a penalty appeal, but thankfully it wasn’t given.

“But we gave them an opportunity to get back into the game, having been so dominant, which was disappointing. I know I can be hard to please, but our job is to try and get these players into first team football.

“January is just around the corner and can we get some of our lads out into the Football League, because some need that challenge now to see what it’s all about.

“So as nice as it was for the lads to go top of the table for 24 hours, nobody has had a career out of it yet. It’s only two defeats out of 10 games, which is really pleasing, but it’s the long-term development of each individual that really matters.”

Barr reserved special praise for matchwinner Lyons, who has now scored five goals in his last five Premier League 2 games.

“We’ve had an honest chat and Brad seems to be better at breaking lines going forward than linking play,” he added.

“So we had a chat a few weeks ago and we basically said ‘just concentrate on that and show your biggest strengths more often’. The pleasing thing is, he’s getting in the box, chances are coming and it’s amazing how he can end up in the opposition box as often as he does, unmarked, and that is a real art.

“That’s something we’ve spoken about and the patience to stay there, he’s getting the rewards now, so long may it continue.

“He’s doing it at the right time, because Christmas is around the corner and there could be injuries and suspensions with the first team, you never know, and then off the back of that, in January, there could be a potential loan to the Football League somewhere.”

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