Rovers U18s manager Chad Gribble was pleased with the improvements his side made following a 1-1 draw against category two side Sheffield United at Cantley Park.
The hosts took the lead early on in the second-half through Will Flint but were pegged back late on after a wicked deflection allowed the ball to be slotted home by the away side meaning the spoils were shared across South Yorkshire.
As Rovers ramped up the pre-season programme, with the addition of the returning second-year scholars, Gribble thought the team was closer to where he wanted them to be but thought his side could have come away with more from the game.
He said: “I think we’ve seen a big step in the right direction following on from the previous week and we knew there would have to be because we knew the game was going to be quicker, more intense, more physical and I thought we matched those demands for large parts of the game.
“We’re delighted again to get four U16s on the pitch for the final 30 minutes of the game and I thought that they, for the most part, were able to match those levels as well.
“We demanded more aggression and that we matched Sheffield United’s fiery style of play and we got that. I thought we showed good moments of quality on the ball at times and probably created more chances than they did on the balance of play, so I think 1-1 is a great score line given our opponents but we were unfortunate to not come away with more.”
Gribble felt there was work to do after last week's draw against Oldham Athletic and the U18s manager felt he saw a response to that following the second match of pre-season.
He added: “I think there’s definitely been a step up. There are still lots of changes been made throughout the team in these pre-season games and it can disrupt a flow at times, but today I thought we played with clearer heads.
“The way we intended to play stuck in the players’ minds a bit better than last week, there was less work that went off script and when it was time to play with a bit of freedom and flair I thought we had that and created some good chances.
“I liked the soft set-pieces, we scored from one and didn’t concede from any so I thought we were dominant in both boxes with that so that’s also a big step forward from last week after conceding from two.
“A lot of the things we wanted to address, we’ve addressed in part, but you can’t solve it all in a week but I’m really pleased with the progress.”
Gribble’s side will now aim to build on their performance in training with a quick turnaround for their third game of pre-season against Wakefield AFC at the Millenium Stadium on Wednesday, July 20.