|Bamber Bridge||(1) 1 – 3 (1)||Rovers Reserves|
|M. Mahoney (pen) 29||O’Sullivan 24, Fernandez 61, 65|
|Referee: M. Salisbury|
The Rovers Reserves, or perhaps that should now be called the “development squad”, kicked off their season in fine style with an impressive 3–1 win over Bamber Bridge at the QED Stadium. Over the years the “Brig” have proved tough opponents for Rovers’ youngsters and tonight was another thoroughly entertaining encounter.
There was only one new face in the Rovers starting eleven and that was at left-back where Nicolas Galpin figured. A quick search on the Internet later suggested that this might well be the young full-back who spent last season with Amiens SC in France.
The Rovers dominated the early stages and seemed to adopt a shoot-on-sight policy. Amine Linganzi hit a long-range effort well wide before Bruno Ribeiro went closer with an effort from just outside the penalty area. John O’Sullivan, who had an excellent first half in the centre of midfield, fired over the bar before an excellent run down the wing by Micah Evans saw Jamie Maclaren blast the resultant cross high, wide and not very handsome.
The Rovers controlled the game in the centre of midfield where O’Sullivan, Linganzi and Robbie Cotton looked very comfortable and Cotton was unfortunate to see a volley, from another cross by Evans, go wide.
After 24 minutes the Rovers got the goal that their play deserved when O’Sullivan showed both strength and skill to hold off a couple of defenders whilst weaving his way into a shooting position on the edge of the area. His shot completely wrong-footed Lee Dovey, in the Brig goal, and flew into the back of the net.
The home side made an immediate change with Matt Mahoney replacing Sefton Gonzales and it was the substitute who scored from the penalty spot, on 29 minutes, when referee Mr Salisbury gave a very harsh decision against Anthony O’Connor. The Rovers centre-back was adjudged to have brought Ally Waddecar down just inside the area, although it was a debatable decision to say the least. Mahoney sent Urwin the wrong way to level matters, but the Rovers keeper was then called upon to make a spectacular save to keep the Rovers on level terms.
Gary Bowyer sent out a completely different eleven at the start of the second half, whilst the home side also made numerous changes.
Once again, the Rovers youngsters quickly took control of the game with Danny Laverty and Osayamen Osawe causing the home side problems down both flanks. The young Irish midfielder Darragh Lenihan flashed a shot over the bar after good work from Curtis Haley to set up the chance and then Osawe forced the ‘keeper into an excellent save at the near post.
On 61 minutes the Rovers finally took the lead that their pressure deserved. Once again, Osawe caused the problems as he wove his way past defenders before slipping the ball back for Hugo Fernandez to apply the finishing touch from close range.
Four minutes later it was game over after Fernandez notched his second goal. This time the architect was Laverty, whose centre found its way to Fernandez and the young Spaniard fired in a dipping volley which appeared to be covered by Dovey but somehow the ball found its way into the back of the net.
The Rovers dominated possession for the rest of the match with a confident display of passing which ought to have produced more goals. Dovey made a terrific double save to keep out Osawe and Haley and several other efforts were blocked by last-ditch defending.
There were a number of encouraging performances with O’Sullivan again catching the eye in the centre of midfield. Fernandez took his goals well and again looks an impressive prospect, whilst Osawe and Laverty produced some excellent wing play in the second half. All things considered, it was an excellent start for the youngsters as Gary Bowyer’s squad prepare for the forthcoming newly formed Under-21 league.
Lee Dovey; Matt Lawlor, Luke Atherton, Ken Brown, Lyndon Hodgkiss; Steve Settle, Neil Reynolds, Danny Mahoney, Lennie Reid; Sefton Gonzales (Matt Mahoney 25), Ally Waddecar
Lee Dovey; Roberto Bonaminio, Luke Atherton, Matt Lawlor, Lee Green; Steve Settle (Leon McLoughlin 62), Michael Clark, Matt Mahoney, Lennie Reid (Callum Mahoney 62); Ally Waddecar (Matt Cushie 71), Darren Green
Manager: Neil Crowe
Blackburn Rovers Reserves
Matthew Urwin; Bruno Ribeiro, Anthony O’Connor, Kellen Daly, Nicolas Galpin; Micah Evans, Robbie Cotton, John O’Sullivan, Amine Linganzi, Jamie Maclaren; Jordan Slew
Christopher Dilo; Peter Wylie, Bradley Mason, Ryan Thompson, Will Beesley; Danny Laverty, Darragh Lenihan, Hugo Fernandez Molina, Antonie Boland, Osayamen Osawe; Curtis Haley
Coach: Gary Bowyer
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