|Curzon Ashton||(0) 2 – 2 (0)||Rovers Reserves|
|Kay (pen) 70, Evans 80||Blackman 52, Haley 60|
|Referee: S. Maher|
After three impressive wins the Rovers travelled to the impressive Tameside Stadium to take on Curzon Ashton as part of their Reserve pre-season programme.
The Rovers started brightly, although a crossfield pass by Hugo Fernandez was short of its intended target and almost presented Curzon Ashton with a goalscoring opportunity. Fortunately the home side couldn’t make the most of it and the Rovers cleared their lines. Fernandez was then in action at the other end when his free-kick floated narrowly over the bar.
Brian Summerskill failed to make the most of a good position for the home side when he poked the ball past Danny Devine and then set off down the left wing. However, with men in the area to aim for his cross was poor and was easily cleared by the Rovers defence. At the other end, Myles Anderson got his head on a corner, but the ball was cleared off the line by a defender.
The crossing from both sides was not the best and, as a result, goalmouth incidents were few and far between during the opening half. Raheem Hanley again caught the eye with his tireless running, and his work ethic — not to mention his ability — suggests he has a bright future ahead of him.
The Rovers went close when Jordan Slew fired a fierce long-range effort just over the bar, although, in truth, his partnership with Nick Blackman failed to cause the home side too many problems.
Another careless crossfield pass, this time from Anderson, put the Rovers in trouble, but once again the home side were unable to make the most of the opportunity and the Rovers managed to clear the ball.
Curzon Ashton’s best chance of the half came when Blackman gifted possession to the opposition and Kristian Dennis found himself bearing down on goal. Fortunately, when he opted to shoot, he failed to execute it properly and Seb Usai had little difficulty in making the save.
Both sides made changes at half-time and the Rovers again made life difficult for themselves with some careless play at the opening of the half. A backpass by Jack O’Connell was woefully short, but an attempt to chip the ball over Matty Urwin was unsuccessful.
On 52 minutes the Rovers took the lead when the ball was played up to Nick Blackman on the right of the Curzon Ashton penalty area. The Rovers striker turned in an instant, which wrong-footed the home defence, and rifled the ball past Joshua Ollerenshaw to find the back of the net.
Although the home side enjoyed plenty of possession, they were unable to make much headway in terms of creating clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
On the hour mark the Rovers stretched their lead when a shot from Danny Laverty was parried by the ‘keeper and fell to the feet of Curtis Haley, who had no trouble in slotting the ball home.
With a two-goal advantage the Rovers took the opportunity to introduce a couple of trialists, with Bernard Lopez coming on to play in the centre of defence while Titus Palani came on to play at left-back with Will Beesley moving to occupy the left-sided midfield position. The switch also saw Osayamen Osawe move from his left-wing position to take over from Nick Blackman in attack.
The rearranged line-up had barely time to settle before Curzon Ashton got themselves back into the match when Anthony O’Connor was adjudged to have fouled Scott Metcalfe just inside the area. The Rovers defender appeared to have nudged Metcalfe in the back as the Curzon man headed towards goal. Matthew Kay stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent Urwin the wrong way to pull a goal back for the home side after 70 minutes.
The Rovers’ play became increasingly ragged as Curzon began to dominate possession and started to cause problems for the Rovers’ makeshift defence. Neither of the trialists looked particularly comfortable and Lopez was badly at fault on 80 minutes when he allowed a ball to go over him and into the path of Tony Evans, who wasted no time in accepting the gift and picking his spot to fire the ball past Urwin.
Haley might have snatched it towards the end, but his shot was excellently saved by Ollerenshaw.
All in all, it was a disappointing performance by the Reserves, having seemingly had the game won at one point. On the plus side, Danny Devine, who was with Preston North End last season, looked impressive in defence in the first half, while Raheem Hanley had another impressive game at left-back.
Joshua Ollerenshaw; Simon Woodford, Jonathan Hunt, Andrew Watson, Connor Hampson; Stuart Cook; Lewis Nightingale, Simon Lakeland, Brian Summerskill, Lee Blackshaw; Kristian Dennis
Subs used in the second half: Scott Metcalfe, Matthew Purcell, Nathan Neequaye, Andrew Lundy, George Bowyer, Matthew Kay, Tony Evans, Shelton Payne
Sub not used: Matthew Green (gk)
Manager: John Flanagan
Blackburn Rovers Reserves
Sebastian Usai (Matthew Urwin 46); Peter Wylie (Anthony O’Connor 46), Daniel Devine (Jack O’Connor 46), Myles Anderson (Titus Palani 61), Raheem Hanley (Will Beesley 46); Micah Evans (Danny Laverty 46), John O’Sullivan (Kellen Daly 46), Hugo Fernandez (Robbie Cotton 46), Jamie Maclaren (Osayamen Osawe 46); Nick Blackman (Bernard Lopez 61), Jordan Slew (Curtis Haley 46)
Coach: Gary Bowyer
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