John Buckley on the positives to come out of Checkatrade Trophy game with Derby County

Will Longbottom
Will Longbottom
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I don’t mean to say ‘I told you so’ but I did say to a few of the press lads a couple of years ago that Will Longbottom’s got the makings of a proper player.

It struck me when I first saw him play that he was something a wee bit different.

He’s only 17 and the boy’s a good player. He’s athletic and he can play in a number of different positions. If you watch him down at the training ground he enjoys playing wide on the left and taking on his man. At junior level he goes past right backs for fun!

It was great for him to get his first senior goal against Derby County, he showed good bravery to stick his head in where it hurts.

I thought we played well on Tuesday night. Their late equaliser was soft, but I thought we were the better team - and Longbottom’s cameo was one of several positives to come out of the game.

All of the young lads did very well. Reece Fielding was really steady at centre back and Alfie Beestin impressed everyone, his pass for Liam Mandeville’s goal was right out of the top drawer.

The Checkatrade Trophy is a useful platform for the younger generation but it wasn’t all about them.

I was really impressed with Mathieu Baudry and I liked his aggression in both boxes. He’s two-footed and looks very comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Paul Keegan also marshalled it very well in the midfield holding role. He was at fault for Derby’s opening goal but he recovered from that and put in a decent display.

Harry Middleton was also excellent in midfield, and Marko Marosi’s penalty saves will only add to his confidence.

All over the pitch we did really well, and the great thing is we’re now starting to see some genuine competition for places. Baudry is pushing Joe Wright, Niall Mason looks very competent at the back, and there’s lads knocking on the door who play further forward.

All in all it’s been an excellent week. The win at Portsmouth was a great result - I did tell you last week we’d win down there!

Charity bet: Rovers 2 Barnet 1