Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has given Elliot Anderson the ultimate compliment by mentioning the youngster in the same breath as Argentine legend Diego Maradona.
The Newcastle United loanee once again proved the difference for the Pirates after scoring a 49th-minute stunner to ensure Barton’s side beat Colchester United 1-0.
The 19-year-old’s strike lifted Rovers up to seventh in the League Two table which is the fourth and final play-off spot.
After leaving St James’ Park on deadline day in the January transfer window to get crucial first team minutes at senior level, Anderson couldn’t have asked for a better move.
After coming off the bench to make his debut against Sutton United, Anderson has started the last 11 games and in his time at the club, Barton’s side have lost just two out of 12.
From those 12 outings, Anderson has three goals and two assists to his name.
Barton, the former Newcastle midfielder, compared the Whitley Bay born youngster with one of the greatest players of all time after last night’s win.
“I’ve been listening to Bill Shankley tapes a lot today,” he told BristolLive.
“He talked a lot about a 19-year-old Diego Maradona and how he slows down in the penalty area, exactly like Elliot Anderson does. (He is) such a talent.
“Elliot has been brilliant for us from the first day we brought him in. I would have paid to watch him tonight – he was that good. He is growing into the shirt and his goal capped an outstanding performance.
“Elliot is a huge talent. He excites you and tonight he showed a different gear to be the stand-out player on the pitch.”
Anderson, who was last week named in Scotland’s Under-21 squad, finished last night’s game with 84 touches and 81% pass accuracy.
Alongside the one chance he created, the teenager completed six of his attempted seven dribbles, which was more than any other player on the pitch.
He also won ten ground duels and two aerial duels.
With Anderson continuing to thrive at League Two level, Newcastle are likely to send him out on loan to either a Championship or League One club to continue his burgeoning development.
On current form, Elliot Anderson could inspire Bristol Rovers to promotion up to League One and the attacking midfielder could possibly link-up with Barton again next season.
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