John Buckley said his stunning strike in the win at Birmingham City on the final day was a great way to sign off an excellent personal season.

Buckley’s thunderbolt set Rovers on the way to a 19th win of the season at Birmingham in what was his 44th appearance in a breakout season.

He was named as Rovers’ young player of the year in the week leading up to the game, and had the award not already been handed out, would have been in line for the goal of the season prize too after his long-ranger.

While Rovers ultimately fell short in their quest to finish in the top six, Buckley is taking positives from the season, both individually and collectively.

And he said scoring in successive away games was a nice way to sign off 2021/22.

“I don’t think Reda should have goal of the season,” he joked.

“I’m happy to get the goal, it was one of my better strikes. I knew that it was going to go in when I hit it.

“I was buzzing with the goal, a nice strike, and it’s a good way to go into the summer.”

Buckley has worked closely with Rovers’ technical coach Damien Johnson on his game, including his finishing.

He had scored only once prior to goals in successive away matches at Preston North End and Birmingham, both of which came from outside the box.

And while goals are an area of his game he’s looking to improve, he says his work on the training ground has been more around scoring from inside the box, than out.

“It’s not really long range ones, more arriving in the box, one-touch finishes, but I’ll take the strike from outside the box,” the 22-year-old said.

“I need to keep shooting more, that’s two in the three games, so I’m happy with how I’ve finished the season.”

Rovers were riding high at the start of 2022, sitting second in the table as recently as February 8.

But they first slipped out of automatic promotion contention, and then the play-offs altogether, with only four wins since January transfer window closed.

It meant a frustrating and disappointing end to a campaign that had promised much, though a win on the final day did move Rovers up to eighth, their highest league position since 2013/14.

That offered some positive for Buckley who feels his own campaign has been just what he wanted as he looks to establish himself in the team.

“It’s an improvement from last season.

“I’ve got 42 appearances as well, which is more than last season, so it’s been a good campaign for me.

“We’d have liked to have finished in the play-offs, but to finish eighth, it’s not too bad.

“The last time we finished there we had the like of Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede, so it’s been a good season for everyone.

“We’re disappointed we couldn’t get into the play-offs but we have to take the positives into next season.”

Buckley studies his statistics closely, so much so he knew he was closing in on a century of appearances for the club.

He just missed out on achievening it this season, his outing at Birmingham number 99 for the club, but it’s a milestone he’s looking forward to reaching.

He added: “About 25 games ago I set myself a target of trying to get to 100.

“I’ve missed out by one, but to get to 99 games, mostly in the Championship, a lot of people would dream about that.”

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