Damien Johnson couldn’t hide his disappointment as Rovers Under-23s were beaten at the quarter final stage of the Premier League Cup by Everton.

Rovers were uncharacteristically poor in the first half at Goodison Park, behind to a fourth minute penalty and then a 28th minute Josh Bowler strike.

The visitors showed signs of life in the final half an hour, given a glimmer of hope by an individual Harry Chapman strike.

But Johnson felt his side, both collectively and as individuals, fell below their recent high standards that had seen them win 12 of their previous 16 matches.

He said: “I’m pretty disappointed to say the least. I don’t think we showed up. In the first half, all the things we’ve been recently, we were the opposite.

“We talked about what Everton like to do, how they play, and not give them any opportunities to set traps. We were really disappointed with our start.

“As good as we were against Manchester City last week, we were poor, certainly in the first half, and we fell well below the standards we’ve set ourselves as a group. Some of the players fell below the standards they’ve set themselves individually.

“That’s down to them.

“We huffed and puffed second half but the damage was done in the second half.”

The two teams were no strangers to each other, having already met four times this season. But the young Toffees, already Premier League 2 champions, remained unbeaten in those matches after the 2-1 success.

“We remember the first goal we conceded against them at Southport, we were caught in possession, and we spoke about being quick with our passing and good with our decision making and not give them opportunities to catch us out,” Johnson said.

“We did it in the first two minutes and I don’t know whether that unsettled us, but we never really got going in the first half.

“I’m disappointed.”

Chapman gave Rovers hope with his second goal in as many Under-23s games, but Johnson didn’t feel his side threatened enough.

He added: “If you look at how Everton have been this season they don’t give you many things.

“We knew we had the quality at the top end of the pitch that could hurt them. We didn’t see enough of it and at the other end of the pitch we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”