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Harker Winner Well Deserved - Stone

U23s boss pleased with rapid improvement as striker leads revival

24 July 2019

Steve Stone praised match-winner Rob Harker after he headed the Under-23s to victory at Bamber Bridge.

Harker secured a 1-0 friendly success where he scored with a thumping effort 15 minutes from the end at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

And Stone felt it was a fitting reward for the big striker – who has now scored twice in three games in pre-season.

“I’m delighted with the fact that Rob got his goal – and what a great goal,” said the U23s’ boss.

“Bobby crossed it from nowhere, which is brilliant, and it’s the fact that Rob took up that position at the back post and headed it back where it’s come from.

Rob Harker celebration.jpg

“All the hard work he puts in at the training ground has paid off.

“He’s one at the minute who looks like he’s on it. He grafts in games and I said to him afterwards that if you graft that hard, it’s amazing how lucky to get.

“I was pleased for him because he starts the team off at the front.

“He wasn’t great in the first half, in terms, of his hold-up play but he grew into the game and it was a good test for him against a centre-half with League experience.”

Kieran Charnock – who has seen Football League duty with half-a-dozen clubs during a prolific career – was a key part of the Brig defence which was finally pierced by Harker’s late strike from a Bobby Thomas cross.

And even though it took a while to come, Stone was pleased at how his side bounced back from a 3-1 defeat at Stalybridge Celtic a week previously – with the help of a clean sheet from a resolute back four and senior keeper Adam Legzdins.

Stone laughing.jpg

“We realise the quality is difficult to produce at times because of the way the opposition play and that’s what happened,” added Stone.

“We had to compete, and I didn’t think we did that well in the first half, when I thought they were better than us.

“I let a few know at half time they have to compete and win headers and second balls and then when they get it they can play.

“And I thought we did that eventually. It became a little bit more fragmented towards the end, which is understandable because I have trained the lads really hard over the last couple of days.

“But it was night and day in terms of the performance from last week.”

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