|Rovers Reserves||(1) 2 – 4 (3)||Everton Reserves|
|Slew 43, Anderson 70||Vellios 5, 40 (pen), 42, Baxter 68|
|Referee: M. Salisbury||Attendance: 333|
On a freezing Monday night in January there was little incentive to make the 70-mile round trip to a “home” reserve game at Leigh Sports Village, particularly as the Rovers have failed to win a match all season. However, 333 hardy souls braved the bitterly cold weather to watch this latest set-back for the Reserves, although the overwhelming majority of fans were either locals who fancied a game of football or Evertonians. Fans from Blackburn at these games are becoming increasingly depleted in number.
Even by their standards the Reserves made a desperately poor start to the game with the visitors going ahead after only five minutes. A left-wing corner was swung over by Adam Forshaw and Apostolos Vellios rose above the defence to power a header into the roof of the net. Bruno Ribeiro was on the line, but, not being the tallest, he was unable to get anywhere near the ball, let alone keep it out.
The Rovers struggled to get a foothold in the match during the early stages despite the fact that Nick Blackman looked surprisingly lively on the right wing. On more than one occasion he ghosted past opponents and on one occasion he fired a fierce shot goalwards which Marcus Hahnemann did well to keep out.
Everton had a goal ruled out when Vellios was adjudged to have pushed Jake Kean when the two went up for a cross. It looked a harsh decision as Kean seemed to misjudge the flight of the ball and Vellios appeared to make little or no contact with him.
The visitors looked the better side and the Rovers were restricted in their attacking moves, although Zac Aley came close with a header which flew wide.
Five minutes before the break the visitors doubled their lead after Ribeiro found himself the wrong side of Vellios in the penalty area and brought the Everton man down from behind as he was setting himself to shoot.
Although Kean guessed correctly, Vellios had placed his spot-kick to perfection and it beat the outstretched arm of Kean and found the corner of the net.
Two minutes later and Vellios was able to celebrate a hat-trick after Anthony O’Connor was beaten in the air and the Greek striker ran on to slot the ball home.
The flurry of goals continued as the Rovers hit back immediately with Jordan Slew finding the back of the net from the right of the penalty area.
After having been outplayed for much of the first forty-five minutes, the Rovers might well have pulled another goal back in the dying seconds of the half when Zac Aley saw a looping header bounce off the crossbar.
The Rovers enjoyed greater possession in the second half and Josh Morris had the Everton custodian worried with an effort that flashed past his post with the veteran Hahnemann seemingly well beaten.
However, it was the visitors who increased their lead with a fine individual goal from Jose Baxter. As the Rovers defence backed off him, the former England youth international smashed the ball into the back of the net from about 20 yards out. It was a terrific strike and one which gave Kean no chance to save.
The Rovers pulled a goal back in the most unlikely of circumstances when Anderson hooked the ball over his shoulder and beat a startled Hahnemann from Aley’s long throw.
From that point on, it was Everton who took control of the game and quickly stifled any attempts by the Rovers to get back into the game. In truth, the visitors always looked the better side and the Rovers did well to keep them down to four goals.
It was another disappointing show on a bitterly cold night. No matter how Gary Bowyer shuffles the pack, a winning combination continues to elude him. Adam Henley looked the one player on view who one could see as a possible first-teamer, but sadly too many of the others have looked pretty ordinary this season.
Whatever problems Steve Kean might have between now and the end of the season, the solutions are unlikely to come from the Reserve team.
Blackburn Rovers Reserves
Jake Kean; Bruno Ribeiro, Anthony O’Connor, Myles Anderson, Adam Henley; Nick Blackman, James Knowles, Josh Morris, Zac Aley; Tom Hitchcock (Jamie Maclaren 76), Jordan Slew
Subs not used: Sebastian Usai (gk), Jackson Ramm, Reece Hands, Daniel Laverty
Coach: Gary Bowyer
Marcus Hahnemann; Tyias Browning, Eric Dier, Johan Hammar, Ibou Touray; Magaye Gueye (Christopher Long 90), Jose Baxter, Adam Forshaw, Conor McAleny (Hallam Hope 79), James McFadden; Apostolos Vellios (John Lundstram 81)
Subs not used: Adam Davies (gk), Adam Thomas
Coach: Alan Stubbs
Blackburn Rovers Reserves – Bruno Ribeiro
Everton Reserves – None
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