|FC United of Manchester||(1) 1 – 2 (1)||Rovers Reserves|
|Wright 86||Osawe 23, Slew 53|
|Referee: M. Ashley||Attendance: 721|
The Rovers faced new opposition at Bower Field, the home of Stalybridge Celtic, with a first-ever meeting with FC United of Manchester. It was a game which promised to be the pick of the Reserves’ pre-season programme and it certainly produced the best performance of the warm-up games thus far.
After Saturday’s disappointing performance at Curzon Ashton, Gary Bowyer selected a squad that is likely to represent the club in the newly formed Under-21 league.
Having started brightly, it was FC United who had the first chance following a mazy run by the much-travelled Carlos Roca. Eventually his progress was halted when he was felled just outside the area. Roca himself took the kick, but the ball flew well over the bar.
Roca, who was causing the Rovers no end of trouble with his quick feet, was brought down by Micah Evans, whose rash tackle earned him a stern word from the referee. A short free-kick was eventually played into the box, where it fell to Adam Jones, who fired wide.
The Rovers responded with a decent run by Jordan Slew. Having got to the deadball line, Slew crossed, with the ball finding its way to Hugo Fernandez, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Evans was then played in, but his shot was saved by the ‘keeper, who was able to put it out for a corner. Raheem Hanley then tried his luck from long range but was off target.
The large United following really got behind their side in what was turning out to be a thoroughly entertaining encounter. Osayamen Osawe tried to curl an effort into the top corner but was well wide. However, Osawe had better luck with his next effort, which broke the deadlock on 23 minutes. Another neat piece of football by the Rovers allowed Fernandez to play the ball out to Osawe on the left and he simply ran at the full-back until he reached the edge of the area and then unleashed a powerful drive which flew into the bottom corner of the goal.
The Rovers really ought to have gone two up, but Fernandez wasted a glorious opportunity by trying to be too precise with his finish. Having taken the ball away from the goalkeeper, he then moved across the six-yard line looking for the perfect gap between the assembled defenders. However, having moved across the goal, he then fired his shot wide of the far post.
At the other end Matty Urwin flapped uncharacteristically when a corner was played into the area and was fortunate to see the ball cleared for a corner. However, he redeemed himself when he came and caught the next corner despite being under heavy pressure from a host of FC United players.
As half-time approached, Osawe was unfortunate to see another excellent run end with a powerful shot that struck a post and rebounded into the six-yard box, where Jordan Slew was unable to react quickly enough to capitalise on the loose ball.
Although FC United started the second half with the same starting eleven, Gary Bowyer rang the changes, which saw the Rovers adopt a slightly different formation with Osawe moving to the right wing, Slew taking up his place on the left and Curtis Haley coming on to play through the middle. Chris Dilo replaced Urwin in goal, while Darragh Lenihan replaced Fernandez and Jamie Maclaren took over from John O’Sullivan. Will Beesley was given a run at left-back in place of Myles Anderson.
On 53 minutes the Rovers doubled their lead when Jordan Slew capitalised on the good work of Anthony O’Connor and Raheem Hanley. After receiving the ball, Slew showed some nifty footwork to evade the home defence and fire home from close range.
FC United responded by immediately making three substitutions and Mike Norton tried to get the home side back in the game but his shot flew over the bar.
However, it was the Rovers who were enjoying the greater share of the play and FC United simply had no answer to the pace and power of Osawe, who was revelling in his role on the right wing. From another excellent run he forced James Spencer into making another good save.
Osawe embarked upon another powerful run down the wing, but his cross was cleared as FC United desperately tried to deal with the increasing pressure. O’Connor chipped the ball forward and Haley was just inches away from tapping home from close range.
Jamie Maclaren, who was showing a welcome return to form, was the next to try his luck from long range, but his effort flew over the bar. Slew then brought another fine save from the ‘keeper before Haley missed his header in front of goal.
On 85 minutes FC United hauled themselves back into the game with a powerful strike from Jerome Wright. The Rovers had conceded a free-kick and had allowed the ball to go through the wall. Dilo failed to hold the shot and merely palmed it out for a corner. From the resultant corner the ball was played out to Wright, who was 30 yards from goal. However, he unleashed a rocket-like shot which gave Dilo no chance of saving.
Unlike on Saturday at Curzon Ashton, the Rovers were able to play out the final few minutes without any further scares and thus got back to winning ways. A crowd of 721 was hugely impressive, as was everything else about a club which was formed in response to foreign ownership at Old Trafford.
As for the Rovers, it was a very impressive performance with a number of decent performances, although Osayamen Osawe was undoubtedly the star performer with an electrifying display of wing play in the second half.
While the seniors travel to Holland for two matches over the weekend, the Reserves travel to The Shay for a meeting with FC Halifax Town.
FC United of Manchester
James Spencer (Jon Worsnop 72); Dave Birch, Paul Jones (Dean Stott 54), Adam Jones, Daniel Grimshaw (Lee Neville 54); Nicky Platt (Jerome Wright 63), Scott Cheetham (Jake Cottrell 54); Carlos Roca (Kris Amadi 63), Stephen Johnson (Chris Curley 63), Matthew Wolfenden; Mike Norton
Manager: Karl Marginson
Blackburn Rovers Reserves
Matty Urwin (Christopher Dilo 46); Peter Wylie (Kellen Daly 60), Anthony O’Connor, Jack O’Connell, Myles Anderson (Will Beesley 46); Micah Evans (Curtis Haley 46), Hugo Fernandez (Darragh Lenihan 46), Raheem Hanley (Robbie Cotton 60); John O’Sullivan (Jamie Maclaren 46); Jordan Slew, Osayamen Osawe
Coach: Gary Bowyer
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