|Warrington Town||(0) 0 – 1 (1)||Rovers Reserves|
|Sullivan (pen) 38|
|Referee: P. Mahon||Attendance: N/A|
Gary Bowyer’s Reserve side ended their pre-season campaign with a hard-fought victory over Warrington Town at their Cantilever Park ground. With the recent departures of Jordan Slew, Myles Anderson and Anthony O’Connor on loan and the transfer of Nick Blackman to Sheffield United, the Rovers had to make a number of changes to the team that had played in previous pre-season games. Kellen Daly and Jack O’Connell formed a new centre-back partnership, while Jamie Maclaren was asked to lead the forward line with Micah Evans and Osayamen Osawe providing the support from the wings.
Although the Rovers enjoyed the greater possession throughout, they struggled to break down a well-organised Warrington side, particularly in the second half when the home team were strengthened by the arrival of the experienced Lee McEvilly. A first-half penalty settled matters, but the Rovers couldn’t find the key to unlock a rugged defence to add a second goal which, in all fairness, their play deserved.
The Rovers began brightly and an intricate passing movement ought to have produced the opening goal, but Osawe blasted over the bar from close range when he really should have found the back of the net.
Osawe then used his pace to make progress down the left wing before finding Maclaren, whose shot was deflected for a corner.
Although they defended well, Warrington didn’t offer too much in attack during the first half as the Rovers’ youngsters enjoyed long spells of possession but without making the most of their opportunities. However, on 38 minutes the Rovers were given the chance to break the deadlock when Phil Davies brought John O’Sullivan crashing to the ground in the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and O’Sullivan picked himself up to slot the ball home, sending Adam Judge the wrong way.
The second half brought wholesale changes for the home side with former Accrington Stanley and Northern Ireland international Lee McEvilly being introduced to lead the line. The Rovers made just one change with Jack O’Connell being withdrawn in favour of Darragh Lenihan. While the young Irishman took up his normal place in midfield, Hugo Fernandez dropped back to take over from O’Connell in the heart of the defence.
The changes made by the home side certainly seemed to invigorate them and they began the second period looking far more effective and started to make inroads in the Rovers defence. However, rather like the Rovers’ youngsters in the first half, the home side failed to make the most of their opportunities.
Undaunted, the Rovers youngsters continued to play their passing game despite the fact that the playing surface was not conducive to such a game with the grass seeming to be rather long. Maclaren, who had a very impressive game, created another opportunity for Osawe, but Judge was equal to it and made a fine stop.
The second period ebbed and flowed without either side really forcing the goalkeepers to make anything other than routine saves. Gary Bowyer took the opportunity to give game time to Chris Dilo, Bradley Mason and Tom Brown during the half and Mason almost nicked himself a goal when he evaded a couple of defenders, but unfortunately his well-struck shot went narrowly wide.
Warrington created one or two chances in the closing stages, but their shooting was wayward and Chris Dilo, the young French goalkeeper, was never really troubled.
John O’Sullivan, who has had senior experience during the pre-season, almost snatched a second when he cut in from the left and tried to curl an effort with his right foot into the top corner of the goal. Sadly, he was just inches wide of the target.
This was a good workout for the Rovers’ youngsters against well-organised opposition. However, with pre-season at an end, attention now turns to the newly formed Under-21 Premier League and the opening match at Norwich on Monday afternoon.
Adam Judge; Peter Doran (Carl McKenna 46), Adam Flynn (Douglas 46), Jay McCarten (Daniel Murphy 46), Lee Roberts (Colin Flood 46); Peter Dogan (John Dawson 66); Liam Shipton (Ash Ruane 46), Phil Davies (Phil Mooney 46), Michael Reid (Kevin Townson 46), Fraser Ablett (John O’Driscoll 46); Rob Hardwick (Lee McEvilly 46)
Sub not used: Neil Weaver
Manager: Shaun Reid
Blackburn Rovers Reserves
Matthew Urwin (Christopher Dilo 66); Peter Wylie, Kellen Daly, Jack O’Connell (Darragh Lenihan 46), Will Beesley; Hugo Fernandez, John O’Sullivan, Raheem Hanley; Micah Evans, Jamie Maclaren (Bradley Mason 76), Osayamen Osawe (Tom Brown 80)
Coach: Gary Bowyer
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