Rovers’ boss Darrell Clarke was pleased with his side’s showing in last night’s pre-season friendly against Reading at the Memorial Stadium.
The visitors ran out 2-0 winners but were made to work hard for their victory and after the match Darrell said; “I felt that it was a really good workout. When you play teams such as Reading you know they have good players and that they will be comfortable on the ball.
“Tonight I thought it was a very competitive game with tackles flying in from both sides; there were times when it didn’t seem like a friendly at times, and that was how you like to see pre-season games played.”
Rovers had the edge in the first half and although they were a goal down at the break they should really have been on the scoresheet themselves.
“I thought we kept our shape and discipline very well especially in the first half and we created a number of chances during that period.
“In the second half I felt that I needed to utilise a number of substitutes as it’s all about getting game time for as many of them as possible before 8th August. Making a great many changes, as we did, interrupts the game to a certain degree but it’s important for all my players, especially the younger ones, to experience playing against a side as good as Reading.”
At the back, Tom Parkes played another 90 minutes alongside defensive partner James Clarke, a partnership that appears to be flourishing
“Tom is getting a great many minutes under his belt, which I think he needs, and he’s done very well in the four games he’s started while James is new to the club and has fitted in quite well.”
Meanwhile Jermaine Easter continues on the road to recovery and played the entire first half last night.
“That was a massive plus for us. Jermaine is very fit, but now we have to up his match fitness levels. I thought he and Matty Taylor worked the line very well, cutting off balls into the midfield area, and I really thought we looked dangerous on the counter attack and perhaps could have made more of our first half opportunities.”
Of his injured players Darrell said; “Lee Brown came through the opening 45 minutes and came off at half time as a precaution because of his slight Achilles problem so we are managing his game time.
“Lee Mansell has a slight calf strain and we will assess that ahead of the game at Cheltenham on Saturday, though there is a chance that Tom Lockyer might be back for that game. As I’ve said before, though, we won’t be taking risks with any player.
“As far as Mark McChrystal is concerned, his injury may not be too serious. Although it appears to be a medial ligament injury it doesn’t appear to be a bad one and I’m not ruling him out for the start of the season.”
As for the future of triallist Billy Bodin, who made an appearance as a second half substitute last night, the manager confirmed that talks regarding a possible deal are ongoing.
There were second half outings for a number of the younger members of the squad last night which showcased the work of our Academy are doing in developing players for the first team.
“It was great for the younger lads to experience playing in a game such as this. I don’t put them on for the sake of it, though, as they have earned the right to be out there and to show Rovers fans that there are
some good players to come out of our youth system. I’m hoping that one or two of them can breakthrough into the first team this season.”