MANAGER David Flitcroft heaped praise on the resolve of his Swindon Town players after they overcame late adversity to qualify for the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy with a 4-2 win at Bristol Rovers tonight.

Town appeared to be coasting at the Memorial Stadium when they led 3-1 with 20 minutes to go but an injury to Donal McDermott meant they had to finish the game with 10 men as all three substitutions had already been made.

Although Rovers swiftly cut the deficit to a single goal when Liam Sercombe found the net, Town dug deep and saw out the closing stages in determined fashion before finally sealing the win through a late strike from Kaiyne Woolery.

The victory sees Town progress out of Southern Group C and into the second round and Flitcroft says that achievement was built on a never-say-die attitude.

“The injury was the only drawback to the game. I don’t know the damage but the rest of the lads galvanised and saw it out with 10 men and that is good,” said Flitcroft.

“Looking at the young players we had on the pitch, for such a young team to do such a professional job, I couldn’t envisage that eight weeks ago at Swindon Town.

“I would have been lying if I said we would have seen that game out, so the group is learning from the environment.

“I ask them to commit to each other and run for each other and they have certainly done that tonight and done it all through the season, really.”

John Goddard gave Swindon an early lead at the Memorial Stadium from the penalty spot but that was cancelled out by a Ryan Sweeney header.

Goals from Paul Mullin and Kellan Gordon either side of half-time put Town back in control before the late drama unfolded.

The victory is Town’s fifth in a row in all competitions and Flitcroft is delighted at how his side are developing under his tutelage.

“It is a fantastic result. Again, it keeps galvanising spirit. It takes a lot more than being a good set of players to win football matches, it takes character, it takes resilience, and it takes a togetherness,” said Flitcroft.

“It takes a lot of people doing the right things every single day and that’s what this group of players do, and the staff as well.

“They deserve massive credit. I ask them to go above and beyond, I demand the highest standards and it is a victory for our fans who have probably waited quite a while.

“It doesn’t matter what trophy or what game it is, there is an opportunity to win a football match and we have done that really well.

“It is a job well done and when I look at the likes of Ellis Iandolo and Johnny Goddard from last season, now they come in a dressing room after a win and you can see they have changed as people.

“They understand what winning is about, they make winning decisions on a football pitch and it’s great for them.”

The draw for the second round will take place at Wembley ahead of the England v Germany international friendly on Friday.