Keith Hill picked the positives out of Tranmere’s 2-0 FA Cup third-round defeat to Barnsley as he praised the effort levels of his players on Sunday afternoon.
Michal Helik’s first-half header and a late Cauley Woodrow penalty earned the high-flying Championship side progression to the fourth-round of the competition, though the Tranmere boss was encouraged by his side’s spirited showing at Oakwell Stadium.
Promising chances fell to James Vaughan and Kaiyne Woolery during the cup contest, but both saw their goal attempts thwarted by opposition goalkeeper Bradley Collins.
Summarising his thoughts on Rovers’ cup exit, Hill said: “I’m pleased with the application against Barnsley’s strongest starting-eleven. They’ve been playing that team consistently, so we knew the way they played, we knew it was going to be an intense game and we matched that.
“There were some outstanding performances. It was a difficult afternoon in midfield for Jay Spearing and Paul Lewis, but I thought they were outstanding at nullifying Barnsley’s threat. They’re a very good side and there were moments in the game when we had chances. To get to half-time, I thought we had something to build on but I’m disappointed with the manner of how we conceded the first goal, a set-play. I’m really encouraged by the performance level. The main attribute in any success is your effort and effort itself is a skill. I thought there was plenty of that on show today.”
There were places in the matchday squad for the youthful trio of Kyle Hade, George Nugent and Jake Burton, with the latter deployed for the final 15 minutes of the match.
Impressed by Burton’s contribution, which marked his third appearance of the campaign, Hill commended the effort levels displayed by the 19-year-old.
“They don’t let you down because they’re full of energy and enthusiasm. For me, as a manager, I support that,” expressed the Tranmere boss.
“All I want from players is 100 per cent all the time and with that 100 per cent, commitment and effort, you can do wonderful things. That should be the first requirement of any football player and football team: effort.”
The Whites return to cup action on Wednesday evening against Leicester City Under-21s, with Hill eager to reach the next stage of the Papa John’s Trophy.
“I feel as though we are making progress. I’m trying to get my values across to the players. I do want hard-work, intensity and I want players to represent our supporters. We will be going with the same group of players again on Wednesday and hopefully we may have one or two back in contention for Saturday.
“It’s more of a technical game and it will be high speed. I’m looking forward to it, in the same way as the Manchester City game we had. I want to win that competition.”