Elliot Anderson put in a man-of-the-match performance against Stevenage. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
The 19-year-old has been a revelation since signing for Newcastle United, despite not being the clubs first option when they signed him on deadline day.
Since making his debut against Sutton United, he has gone from strength to strength and has dazzled supporters with his individual displays.
He put in a man-of-the-match performance against Stevenage, scoring in the 50th minute before assisting Harry Anderson for a second time this week, taking his goal contributions to three in two games.
Despite only being here for less than a month, Joey Barton has revealed that Anderson has been called ‘Billy’ in ode to the popular 2000 film ‘Billy Elliot’ in which a boy wants to become a professional ballet dancer.
“We knew the qualities we were getting with young Eliot,” said Barton to BBC Radio Bristol in the aftermath of their win in Hertfordshire.
“Billy, they’ve called him, Geordie Boy, a bit of a ballerina. It’s started to stick now his nickname and that is a sign of where the group is at with him.
A fitting name for a player who is so neat and intricate when the ball comes at his feet, barely wasting possession when he receives it.
As well as Anderson, there was also praise reserved for full-back Luca Hoole, the other youngest player in the squad.
Hoole, who was last week watched by Wales’ age-grade coach Paul Bodin, has over the last month and a half solidified his place as right-back after being in and out of the side.
“Hooley’s been there at Mansfield at the start of the season, he’s been in-and-out and certainly in January onwards he’s really taken the position and made it his own.
“His performance today even in the midst of a couple of moments where they’re testing you and I thought it was his defending at the back post with a few crucial interventions to make sure James Belshaw kept his clean sheet.
“Two youngest members of our group but again you wouldn’t think that based on the quality of their performance. In my belief, if you’re good enough, age is just a number. Sometimes playing with young minds that are more malleable, you can put ideas into and coach, for me that’s the beauty of it. Seeing young people flourish and seeing them really start to emerge as senior players.”
The pair were part of a perfect performance as Rovers swept aside a sluggish Stevenage, who shipped four goals to a hungry Gas attack.
In recent weeks, Barton’s men have just scraped past sides or failed to put chances to bed but today was a coming of age performance in which they rarely looked challenge by Stevenage.
The statistics worked massively in the away sides favour, holding 63% whilst they carved 24 shots with 11 shots going in their favour. They completed almost double the passes that the hosts made and ultimately got their just rewards.
Barton’s assessment of the game was a tinge of regret that they didn’t almost reach double figures given their showing in front of goal.
“The lads were superb today. I was a little gutted that we didn’t put eight or nine on them because that was an opportunity to do that,” he said.
“I’m delighted for young Billy, he’s got his first goal. You can see what a talent he is and people forget the strength that we’ve got. Arguably our talisman Antony Evans not even here today, he’s pushing closely to be in our squad on Tuesday.
“It’s really good signs. Lofty (Ryan Loft) was back on the park today and as I say I’m really pleased with the performance and the clean sheet was vital today.
“We’ve worked hard to get to this point and now we have to stay hungry and humble, keep turning up and performing like we did today.
“Just the control. It was nice to get some goals and get into the positive goal difference because certainly in recent weeks if I’ve had one criticism of the guys we weren’t ruthless and clinical enough. They’ve taken that on today and shown a different side and different gear.
“For me, it’s really good signs and if you’re horse racing, you can see with 16 games left to go, you want to be making really progress when then the finish line is in sight. This is a group that worked tirelessly in pre-season.
“You don’t always get the rewards, people think you get instant rewards, you don’t. You get pay back for the hard work that you do and it takes five or six months for that to bed in.
“You’ve seen how physically strong and technically strong and mentally strong they are.”