Gaffer talks about progressing in Trophy to knockout stages.
It was a case of job done for Darren Ferguson who saw his young side earn a point that put them through to the next stage of this season’s Checkatrade Trophy.
Seven of Ferguson’s starting XI were under the age of 21 and he admitted a solid showing against League One Port Vale was more help than hindrance.
“It was good, it was solid. It was a pity we didn’t win on penalties or in the actual 90 minutes because (Jordan) Houghton had a good chance, (Mathieu) Baudry’s header and another couple of chances but it’s a clean sheet – I was pleased for Ross (Etheridge) because he didn’t have much to do but he made an important save late on,” he said.
“I think our fans have been really positive about it; we took a lot to Mansfield. It wasn’t a massive crowd, clearly, but it will have been a bigger attendance than other clubs.
“I think my message has got across that I want us to go as far as we can. I think now the group stage is out of the way it becomes a more natural progression and a knockout cup.
“All we wanted to do was make sure we topped the group at the end of the night and we have done so we get a home tie because I didn’t want another away game; I wanted a home game.”
Rovers will be able to call upon several ‘rested’ players such as Marko Marosi, Andy Butler, James Coppinger, Matty Blair, Tommy Rowe and John Marquis for Saturday’s league clash away at Exeter City; the first time Rovers have visited in the league since 1998.
“Looking at the week as a whole, I’ve managed to get rest in to Copps and Tommy – we’re hoping they’re really fresh for the Exeter game and it’s a big month for us,” he said.
“I always try and pick the right formation for the personnel rather than the other way round as it doesn’t fit sometimes but I felt playing Niall in there and Keegs and the three young boys- who I felt did well again – gave us the right balance.
“The balance of the team was good and I thought there was some good stuff. I don’t think we were convincing enough or had enough conviction in the last third in the first half. We improved a little bit in the second half, I felt there was a few tired legs towards the end which surprised me given that they hadn’t played that many games so maybe that’s something I need to look at as well.”