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7 December 2016

Gaffer felt second half was a real improvement from Rovers

Rovers boss Darren Ferguson will take a lot of positives out of the penalty shootout loss to Blackpool in the Checkatrade Trophy. 

Ferguson, made nine changes to the side that edged past Stevenage 4-3  to send them to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table, but still named a strong side with five of the 11 players who have started the most first-team games this season making the starting XI. 

Ferguson was particularly impressed with Harry Middleton and Andy Williams, who both returned to the starting XI, but was ultimately disappointed that his side bowed out of the competition on penalties. 

“I thought Middleton was really good, considering that he has been out for a long time,” said Ferguson.

“Willo coming back and scoring was a big positive, plus Niall Mason again showing his flexibility and playing very well as a wing back, so there was a lot of positives to take out of it.

“I wanted to progress in the competition and I am very disappointed that we haven’t, that’s two cup games we’ve lost and you do not get them back.”

Gary Bowyer’s Tangerines took the lead after 24 minutes when a punt up field was nodded down by Mark Cullen into the path of forward Armand Gnanduillet, who fired home.

Andy Williams tied the game up seven minutes after the break thanks to a smart header which clipped a post on its way past Dean Lyness in the Blackpool goal. 

Luke Higham scored the winning penalty for the visitors after youth team graduate Will Longbottom failed to convert his spot-kick moments earlier. 

“Obviously young Will is disappointed that he missed the penalty, but that happens,” added Ferguson.

“It was a very young team but there were some positives for sure, the front three did well again and Longbottom and Beestin showed things again which I was pleased with.

“It’s a pity that we have gone out but it comes down to the performance in the first half.”

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