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    Saturday 15th August 2015 – Football League Championship
    Huddersfield Town 1 v 1 Blackburn Rovers - By Parsonblue.
    Huddersfield Town (1) 1
    Wells 9
    Joe Murphy; Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson, Tommy Smith; Jason Davidson, Jonathan Hogg, Dean Whitehead, Jacob Butterfield, Sean Scannell; Ishmael Miller (Harry Bunn, 72), Nahki Wells.
    Subs not used: Lloyd Allinson (gk), Martin Cranie, Murray Wallace, Jordy Hiwula, Kyle Dempsey, Adam Hammill.
    Manager: Chris Powell
    Blackburn Rovers (0) 1
    Delfouneso 60
    David Raya; Adam Henley, Grant Hanley, Shane Duffy, Marcus Olsson; Jason Lowe, Danny Guthrie (Hope Akpan 59); Modou Barrow (Nathan Delfouneso 59), Ben Marshall, Craig Conway; Jordan Rhodes (Fodé Koita 49).
    Subs not used: Jason Steele (gk), Tommy Spurr, Matt Kilgallon, Lee Williamson.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Referee: Mr. P. Bankes
    Bookings: Huddersfield Town – Mark Hudson, Dean Whitehead
    Blackburn Rovers – None
    This game turned on a brave double substitution by Gary Bowyer on the hour mark. Having just used his first substitute, Fodé Koita to replace the injured Jordan Rhodes, the manager threw caution to the wind with the introduction of Nathan Delfouneso and Hope Akpan and a switch to a 4-4-2 system. His bravery was rewarded with an equaliser and a much improved second half performance and, above all, the first point on the board.
    After the poor performance on Tuesday night it was no surprise that Bowyer should revert to the team which started against Wolves, the only change being Modou Barrow replacing Delfouneso on the right wing. Delfouneso was on the bench along with other new signings Koite and Akpan.
    The Rovers started the game in lively fashion and within the opening minute had forced a corner. After five minutes, Rhodes blasted a free-kick against the Huddersfield wall and the ball flew over the bar for another corner.
    However, Huddersfield’s first real attack, on seven minutes, produced a corner after Marcus Olsson appeared to have been fouled in the build-up. From the corner there was complete chaos in the area as the Rovers threw bodies in the way of shots to block the ball but it was desperate stuff. However, as the ball was played out to Sean Scannell, the Huddersfield winger quickly crossed the ball and found the head of Ishmael Miller who produced a bullet like header from point blank range which David Raya did well to keep out with a spectacular piece of goalkeeping. Sadly, Nahki Wells was the first to react and he picked up the rebound and fired home from close range.
    The goal seemed to rock the Rovers and within minutes Danny Guthrie had been caught in possession and when the ball was played forward Grant Hanley headed clear as Raya was about to catch the ball.
    At this point the Rovers looked extremely vulnerable in defence with Hanley and Shane Duffy seemingly on different wavelengths in terms of where to hold the line – Duffy looking to push up and play a high line whilst Hanley was dropping back to man mark. Whenever a ball was thrown into the Rovers area there seemed utter confusion between the two centre backs.
    After their bright start, the Rovers were well and truly on the back foot although Barrow produced a sparkling run after fifteen minutes which resulted in him putting a low ball across the edge of the penalty area for Craig Conway to whip in a shot which curled just inches wide of the post.
    Miller, who was being given a fair bit of leeway by a very lenient referee, was played through by Jacob Butterfield after he intercepted a poor pass from Guthrie. However, the former Manchester City striker fired wide when he really ought to have at least got a shot on target.
    The Rovers responded with a rare attack which resulted in Conway getting another cross into the box which was punched away by Joe Murphy.
    The Rovers produced their best move of the half on thirty-five minutes when Guthrie picked out Rhodes with a peach of a pass that set the former Huddersfield striker free in the penalty area. As he struck his shot, Murphy was quick off his line to block the ball which then rebounded against Rhodes for a goalkick.
    Miller had another effort off target before the referee ended with half with the Rovers being fortunate to be just one behind. The defending had, at times, been simply chaotic with the midfield doing little to support a back four that had come under increasing pressure and had shown all the signs of cracking.
    The Rovers suffered a major blow within minutes of the restart when Rhodes was felled by a hefty and late challenge by Dean Whitehead. After lengthy treatment Rhodes was unable to continue and was replaced by Koita. From the resultant free-kick Duffy headed over.
    The Rovers were struggling to find any rhythm to their passing with far too many passes going astray. It was at this point, on fifty-nine minutes, that Bowyer made the move to add more impetus to the Rovers attack with the introduction of Delfouneso and Akpan and a switch to 4-4-2 with Marshall reverting to the right wing. It produced instant results and within a minute the Rovers were level.
    Marshall crossed a ball into the box from the right and Koita rose to head the ball down to Delfouneso who, in an instant, hammered the ball into the back of the net.
    The goal seemed to rejuvenate the Rovers and suddenly they started to move the ball around at speed as Delfouneso worked the channels and Koita dominated in more central positions. Indeed, the two almost opened up the home defence again with good link up play before the ball was cleared.
    However, on sixty-seven minutes Raya was called into action to palm away a terrific effort from Butterfield and was then forced to save a follow up shot from Scannell before the ball was finally cleared by Olsson.
    Wells then had a chance to work the goalkeeper but pulled his effort wide.
    Despite these chances it was the Rovers who looked the more likely side as they moved the ball about with confidence and in Conway they had a constant threat down the left flank. On seventy-two minutes Koita played a lovely ball out to Conway on the wing who showed a fair turn of speed to race past the full-back but, unfortunately, just as he moved into the area to deliver his pass he slipped and the ball went harmlessly out of play.
    A minute later and Conway flashed another ball across the goalmouth but no one could get on the end of it.
    During the final ten minutes it had become a really entertaining game with both sides looking for a winner without really overcommitting as neither side wanted to let anything slip at the last minute. Ultimately a draw was a very fair result and probably satisfied both managers after both had suffered a difficult first week of the season.
    For the Rovers it was something of a curate’s egg performance. The defending in the first half was poor, not just the back four but from the midfield in front of them. David Raya did everything that could be expected of him in goal and continues to look the part. He was very unfortunate with the goal, having made a brilliant save only to be let down by the sluggish reaction of the defenders to the loose ball. Both Adam Henley and Marcus Olsson had their hands full with Huddersfield’s speedy wide players and neither was able to really get forward and add much to the attack. However, the real worry was the centre-back pairing which continues to live on a knife-edge. There appears little understanding between the two and both seemed at odds with each other at times. In fairness, Hanley performed exceptionally well in the second half and looked the far more dominant figure of the two.
    Whilst the Rovers always looked dangerous down the flanks with Modou Barrow and Craig Conway impressing with their speed and ability to get behind the defence, the Rovers didn’t quite fire on all cylinders in the centre of the park. Ben Marshall drifted in and out of the game playing just behind Rhodes whilst neither Jason Lowe nor Danny Guthrie were able to get forward to provide sufficient service to Rhodes. Guthrie looked the more likely to open up the defence, and did so on one occasion, but a number of his passes were short and easily intercepted. Lowe, as usual, was athletic and covered a lot of ground and won a few tackles. However, there were times when the game simply passed him by and too many passes simply didn’t lead anywhere other than back.
    Jordan Rhodes was restricted to one chance in the first half and struggled to get into the game because of a lack of service.
    The introduction of the three substitutes completely changed the game for the Rovers, together with a change in tactics to suit the new arrivals. Nathan Delfouneso won the approval of the fans with his goal and movement. He works the channels, is quick and looks to make runs behind the defence. Fodé Koita, although admittedly raw, has a real presence about him and puts defenders under physical pressure. Like Rudy Gestede, he is good in the air and can shield the ball and hold it up before laying it off to those around him. As he finds his feet in English football he could become a very shrewd signing on behalf of the manager. Hope Akpan added movement, pace and some welcome power in the centre of park. He appears to have all the attributes required for the holding player but has the ability to get forward and take the play to the opposition rather than simply looking for the easy pass backwards.
    Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this performance was the fact that Gary Bowyer, a seemingly intrinsically cautious manager at heart, should embrace the gamble he did in a bid to alter the destiny of the game and the points. Bowyer often gets stick for his substitutions, which are often seen as negative and reactive, but today he was positive and proactive and got the reward he and the team deserved.
    vdb

    By vdb, in Transfers,

    Reports in the local media have suggested that Leyton Orient winger Jobi McAnuff is having a trial with Rovers.
    Gary Bowyer has also confirmed that Swedish striker Denni Avdic is having a trial with Rovers, talking at his pre match press conference Bowyer said “We’re going to have a look at him over a couple of days.
    “It’s always important when players become available that they show the appetite to come over and see if everything is a nice fit.
    “He’s trained this morning with us and it’s something we’ll continue to monitor".
    Meanwhile BRFCS understands that reports linking Jordan Rhodes with a move to Sunderland are wide of the mark.  Rovers have received no new bids for Rhodes over the last 2 weeks.  Middlesbrough who remain keen to sign Rhodes have not been back with any new bids and are on the verge of signing Leicester striker David Nugent for £4 million.
    Rovers are back in action tomorrow when they travel to the John Smith's Stadium to take on Huddersfield Town.
    vdb
    Tuesday 11th August 2015 – The Premier Academy Under-18 League
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 1 v 1 Middlesbrough Under-18 - by Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 (1) 1
    Steer 36
    Andrew Fisher; Lewis Travis, Matthew Platt, Charley Doyle, Josh Askew; Stefan Mols, Joe Grayson; Tre Pemberton, Mason Fawns (Stuart Callaway 75), Ramirez Howarth; Joel Steer (Alex Curran 74).
    Subs not used: Ben Ascroft (gk), Matthew Makinson, Jan Pirretas.
    Coach: Billy Barr
    Middlesbrough Under-18 (1) 1
    Platt (own goal) 41
    Thomas Dawson; Liam Hegarty, James Cook, Niall McGoldrick, Anthony Renton; Alex Pattison, Ben Liddle, Marcus Tavernier, Patrick Reading (Mitchell Curry 46); Daniel Jardine (Jack Lambert 52), Lee Hetherington.
    Subs not used: Bradley James (gk), Jay Wilson, Nathan Convery.
    Coach: Craig Liddle
    The Under-18’s opened their League encounter with a tough fixture against Middlesbrough, who won the title last season and thereby qualified for this season’s UEFA Youth League.
    The game was delayed for a quarter of an hour because of the late arrival of the visitors but within six minutes of the start Lee Hetherington had escaped the Rovers’ defence and managed to get in a shot which Andy Fisher saved quite comfortably.
    The Rovers immediately launched an attack of their own which ended when Tre Pemberton played in Lewis Travis but the full-back’s cross was cleared.
    These two combined again on ten minutes and when the cross came in Dawson, merely punched the ball away but it was quickly returned and the ‘keeper was forced to make a save at the feet Joel Steer.
    The Rovers were looking quite competitive and Steer picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Liam Hegarty.
    On twenty-two minutes, Steer was in the thick of the action again when he chased a long ball and the ‘keeper was forced to come to the edge of his area to make a save as the Rovers’ number nine was about to pounce.
    A minute later and it was the Middlesbrough centre-forward, Hetherington, who showed good control to take the ball into the area but the fired into the side netting.
    On twenty-five minutes the Rovers almost opened the scoring when Mason Fawns dragged the ball away from a defender in the area before crashing his shot against the Middlesbrough crossbar.
    However, on thirty-six minutes the Rovers took the lead thanks to a wonderful piece of play by the Pemberton.  The winger beat two ‘Boro players and left them in his wake before chipping the perfect pass into the penalty area and over the Middlesbrough defence for Steer to run onto and head the ball home.
    Sadly, the lead didn’t last long as the visitors pulled level on forty-one minutes.  The ball came across from the left and Fisher attempted to punch it clear but failed to get much distance on his clearance.  In a flash the ball came back into the box from the right and in attempting to head the ball behind, Matty Platt merely succeeded in heading it into his own net.
    As half-time approach Joe Grayson attempted a pot at goal but his effort was blocked for a corner which came to nothing.
    Middlesbrough made a change at the interval whilst the Rovers kept faith with the same eleven.  However, although the Rovers had enjoyed a decent amount of possession during the first forty-five minutes the opening period of the second half was a much more even affair.
    On fifty minutes Grayson’s free-kick flew just wide whilst five minutes later Hetherington had an effort saved by Fisher.
    The Rovers brought on Alex Curran in place of Steer but it was Middlesbrough who were beginning to ask more questions of the Rovers’ back line.  Hetherington chipped a free-kick over the Rovers’ wall but Fisher read it and collected the ball with ease.
    Curran worked his way into the area with some tricky play but slipped just as he was in the process of shooting and the ball flew narrowly over the bar.  Both of Middlesbrough’s substitutes – Mitchell Curry and Jack Lambert – had efforts which were off target whilst the lively Pemberton had another effort blocked.
    Curran was played into the area and found himself in space but as he was about to shoot a defender got back and made a desperate tackle to win the ball.  Pemberton then showed some neat footwork and burst into the area and as Dawson came out to meet him he chipped the ball over the ‘keeper but, sadly, it lacked power and a defender was able to get back and clear off the line.
    It was a fairly entertaining affair and a draw was a fair result as both sides had spells when they dominated.  Tre Pemberton is a tricky little winger who has an eye for a pass whilst Alex Curran impressed with his ability to find good positions and his intelligent use of the ball.  Joel Steer worked hard up front and didn’t give the defenders a moment’s rest and, of course, nipped in to score the opening goal.  Joe Grayson and Stefan Mols both got through a lot of work in midfield and used the ball well in trying to feed the wings.
    vdb
    Tuesday 11th August 2015 – Capital One Cup 1st Round
    Blackburn Rovers 1 v 2 Shrewsbury Town by Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers (1) 1
    Lawrence (own goal) 30
    Jason Steele; Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Matt Kilgallon, Tommy Spur; John O’Sullivan (Modou Barrow 57), Lee Williamson, Corry Evans (Danny Guthrie 65), Ben Marshall; Nathan Delfouneso, Chris Brown (Fodé Koita 56).
    Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Jordan Rhodes, Shane Duffy, Craig Conway.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
     
    Shrewsbury Town (1) 2
    Collins 9, Barnett 31
    Jayson Leutwiler; Matt Tootle, Jermain Grandison, Connor Goldson, Matt Sadler; Liam Lawrence, Abu Ogogo, Ryan Woods, Martin Woods (Junior Brown 85); James Collins (John-Louis Akpa Akpro 76), Tyrone Barnett.
    Subs not used: Calum Burton (gk), Shaun Whalley, Mark Ellis, Liam McAlinden, Jordan Clark.
    Manager: Micky Mellon
     
    Referee: Mr. G. Eltringham
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers– Tommy Spurr
    Shrewsbury Town – Matt Tootle, Jayson Leutwiler
    Attendance: 5,280
    Rovers’ League Cup hoodoo, which seemed to have been vanquished during our Premier League years, has certainly returned with a vengeance now we are back in the Football League.  MK Dons, Carlisle United, Scunthorpe United and now Shrewsbury Town can be added to the list of ignominy which has seen the likes of Wrexham, Rochdale, Workington and Stockport County dump us out of this competition.  Quite why the manager believed that fielding a “squad team†would work this year when the past three seasons have ended in failure is a question only he can answer.  Whilst the blame for selection rests solely with the manager a number of players need to look at their own performances on the night.  Given the opportunity to stake a claim for a starting place at Huddersfield on Saturday they simply tossed the opportunity away with a lacklustre performance which was as depressing as it was predictable.  If there were positives to be taken from Saturday’s defeat against Wolves there was precious little to be enthused about with this performance.  A trio of new boys came out with credit – Delfouneso, Koita and Barrow – but after that positives were thin on the ground.  Perhaps young Nyambe could be excused and at least after an early error, that led to Shrewsbury’s first goal, he did show character in playing a part in the equaliser and never gave less than one hundred per cent.  But apart from that is was a night to forget.
    Shrewsbury made one change from the side which lost to Millwall on Saturday whilst the Rovers made nine changes with only Delfouneso and Marshall retaining their places.  Ryan Nyambe was given his senior debut whilst fellow Academy graduates John O’Sullivan and Darragh Lenihan also stepped into the starting eleven.
    The game was just nine minutes old when Nyambe’s pass inside put Lee Williamson in no man’s land and although the midfielder tried to rectify the situation with a lunging tackle he failed and Abu Ogogo stepped in and fired a shot goalwards which Jason Steele saved but merely deflected the ball into the path of James Collin who stoked the ball home into an empty net.
    An excellent run down the right by O’Sullivan ended with a pass to Delfouneso who cut inside and then curled a shot just beyond the far post.
    Shrewsbury came back and Collins played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Ogogo who tried to take the ball around Steele.  The keeper dived at the feet of the Shrewsbury forward who fell to the ground claiming a penalty but the referee merely awarded a corner.
    It was the visitors who were making all of the early running and the Rovers looked strangely out of sorts as passes went astray and even the normally reliable Williamson and Kilgallon looked all at sea.
    However, the Rovers were given a lifeline on the half-hour mark when Nyambe attacked down the right, exchanged passes with Delfouneso and then played in a ball towards the near post.  It appeared that Delfouneso had forced the ball home but it was later confirmed that it was Liam Lawrence who had got the final touch and so it was credited as an own goal.
    However, within a minute Shrewsbury had restored their lead with another comedy of errors in the Rovers defence.  Kilgallon failed to clear his lines, Williamson was caught in possession and when Tyrone Barnett fired home Steele was beaten far too easily on his near post.  It was a dreadful goal and typical of the lax defending which has been the Rovers Achilles’ heel for far too long now.
    Marshall forced an excellent save from Leutwiler but the Rovers went in at the interval trailing and had done little to suggest that they might rectify the situation in the second-half.
    The Rovers came out early for the second period but the pattern of the first forty-five minutes didn’t change.  Indeed, after 54 minutes the visitors ought to have been 3-1 ahead when Collins found himself in space at the back post when the ball came across to him.  However, instead of finding the back of the net he whacked the ball high into the stands.
    Somewhat cruelly, the loudest cheer of the night from Rovers’ fans came just two minutes later when Chris Brown was finally put out of his agony and replaced by Fodé Koita whilst Modou Barrow came on to make his debut in place of O’Sullivan.
    Suddenly, the Rovers started to offer more of a threat and there seemed to be a renewed urgency about their play, particularly when Danny Guthrie replaced Evans.
    The towering presence of Koita began to unsettle the Shrewsbury defence and the ‘keeper did exceptionally well to keep out a header at the back post from the Frenchman.   Koita then showed an adept piece of skill when he brought down a long clearance from Steele, turned and blasted a thunderbolt of a shot which was just inches away from finding the top corner of the net.
    For a period of about fifteen minutes the Rovers looked like they might force their way back into the game but Shrewsbury were always dangerous on the break even though they didn’t always make the most of some promising situations.  Barnett found himself with an excellent chance to clinch the game but fired straight at Steele when in a good position and free from any markers.
    With the game moving into added on time it looked as if Koita might have rescued the situation when he climbed above everyone to head the ball firmly downwards but it crept just past the post.
    Four minutes of added on time were seen out by the visitors with little difficulty and the Ewood faithful left in disgruntled mood after yet another League Cup campaign came to embarrassing end.
    Just days into the new season and the manager is attracting a fair amount of criticism – some fair, some not – after two home defeats.  Whilst on paper the starting eleven ought to have been good enough to deal with Shrewsbury, in truth they never looked like getting a grip on the game, let alone winning it.  The buck stops with the manager with regard to selection and clearly some of these players are not performing to the levels expected of them.  Steele did little to enhance his claims for a regular first team spot and looked very unsure as a last line of defence.  However, the back four proved totally inadequate on the night.  Nyambe, on his debut, had a tough night but stuck to his task and played a major part in the equalising goal.  Matt Kilgallon and Darragh Lenihan really struggled as a centre-back partnership and one suspects that Hanley and Duffy will quickly be restored for Saturday.  Likewise Marcus Olsson should be restored in place of Tommy Spurr who struggled to make any impression at left back and was, all too often, left floundering.
    The midfield was particularly disappointing.  Lee Williamson had a nightmare, although the guy never stop trying to make something happen, whilst Corry Evans made little impression.  John O’Sullivan failed to make the most of his opportunity and was strangely subdued by his standards whilst Ben Marshall flitted in and out of the game.
    In attack, Nathan Delfouneso again impressed with his movement and certainly looked happier playing through the middle.  Sadly, for Chris Brown things simply go from bad to worse.  The harder he tries the less things go for him.  His selection was a strange one as he had missed the majority of the pre-season and, in truth, looked anything but fit.
    Fodé Koita and Modou Barrow were probably the main two positives on an awful night for the Rovers.  Barrow looks to have the pace that we have lacked whilst Koita proved a real handful with his physical approach to the game.
    The fact that a number of other Championship clubs fell at this hurdle having made the same gambles as Bowyer with regard to team selection is no consolation.  The Rovers ought to be beating teams like Shrewsbury and when they don’t they can expect the sort of reaction that the crowd gave them tonight.  Being the victim of a giant killing can happen to anyone but four successive seasons as the victim is beyond a joke.   We are only into the first week of the season and already the pressure is building on the manager and sadly, much of it is self-inflicted.  However, with six new players having arrived and the possibility of more to come it is clearly going to take time to mould them into a team.  Nonetheless, the Rovers need to gel and gel fairly quickly if they are not to give themselves an uphill battle for the rest of the season.
    vdb
    Monday 10th August 2015 – Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division Two
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 0 v 1 Derby County Under-21 - By Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 (0) 0
    Simon Eastwood; Connor Thomson (Dean Rittenberg 90 + 1), Sam Lavelle, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle; Lewis Mansell, Willem Tomlinson, Lewis Hardcastle, Connor Mahoney (Joe Grayson 75); David Carson; Anton Forrester.
    Subs not used: Ryan Crump (gk), Modou Cham, Luke Wall
    Manager: Damien Johnson
    Derby County Under-21 (0) 1
    Wassall 74
    Jonathan Mitchell; Alefe Santos (Jack Tuite 59), Farrend Rawson (Ethan Wassall 65), Tom Koblenz, Max Lowe; Charles Vernam, Callum Guy, Alban Benjaku (Kellan Gordon 71), Ivan Calero; Offrande Aansala, Mason Bennett.
    Subs not used: Josh Barnes (gk), Jared Bird.
    Manager: Darren Wassell
    Referee: Mr. K. Mulraine
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-21 – None
    Derby County Under-21 – Kellan Gordon
    Attendance: 215
    A goalkeeping blunder by Simon Eastwood condemned the Under-21’s to defeat in their opening League encounter at Leigh Sports Village.  Ultimately, the difference between two evenly matched teams proved to be the goalkeepers.  Eastwood fluffed an attempt to claim a high ball from a corner whilst Jonathan Mitchell looked supremely confident in claiming crosses as the Rovers put him under pressure in the closing stages.
    Damien Johnson included Willem Tomlinson in midfield alongside the equally promising Lewis Hardcastle whilst David Carson completed the trio of central midfielders, playing in the hole behind lone striker Anton Forrester.
    Derby were on the attack from the off and after only four minutes Mason Bennett shot over the bar.  Two minutes later it was Bennett who set up the Spaniard Ivan Calero and his thunderbolt of a shot struck the post before being cleared.  Bennett, who was in the thick of the action throughout the opening period, then flicked a clever headed pass into space in the penalty area but no Derby player read it and the ball was cleared.
    On sixteen minutes Eastwood had to rush from his goal to beat Charles Vernam to a high looping ball that was played to the edge of the area.
    The Rovers first real attacking opportunity came at the end of twenty minutes when Connor Mahoney’s near post corner caused problems for the visiting defence and Sam Lavelle’s shot was blocked for another corner.  Once again, Mahoney placed an inswinging corner into a dangerous area but, sadly, although Scott Wharton got to the ball he was unable to keep his header on target.
    It had become a very even affair at this point with both sides enjoying spells of possession but without really threatening to dominate the game.
    On thirty-five minutes the visitors put the Rovers under intense pressure when Vernam’s shot was cleared off the line by Wharton, only for the ball to strike Eastwood and rebound back to the goal where Wharton again cleared off the line.
    On thirty-seven minutes Lewis Hardcastle blasted a terrific effort just wide of the post and six minutes later he struck another powerful long range effort which flew narrowly wide.
    It was deadlock at the interval which merely reflected the closeness of the game.
    The Rovers were the first to attack after the break when David Carson did well to beat two men in the Derby area but was unable to keep his shot on target.  The visitors responded almost immediately when the impressive Calero hit a long range effort from distance which rattled the Rovers’ crossbar.
    As in the first half, after these two chances, the match settled into a fairly even contest.  Callum Guy sent in a spectacular effort from distance when he ran onto a loose ball and blasted his shot just over the bar from all of twenty-five yards out.  At the other end Anton Forrester had a quick shot on the turn which was deflected for a corner.
    On seventy-four minutes the visitors were awarded a free-kick and Calero’s powerful effort struck the wall and deflected away for a corner.  Calero took the corner and although Eastwood came to claim the ball he couldn’t hold it and dropped it in a crowded goalmouth.  Defender Ethan Wassell, who had replaced Rawson, showed the predatory instincts of a striker as he managed to fire home from just a few yards out to give Derby the lead.
    The Rovers immediately replaced the ineffective Mahoney with Joe Grayson as they looked to get back into the game.  Play was then held up for some time as Callum Guy received lengthy treatment to a leg injury before being stretchered off in some pain.  As the visitors had already used all of their substitutes they were forced to play out the final ten minutes with ten men.
    The Rovers pushed forward in search of an equaliser and on eighty-eight minutes they had a chance when Forrester worked a good opening in the area but fired straight at Mitchell.  With seven minutes of added time to be played the Rovers threatened with a couple of corners but Mitchell came and claimed them under pressure which, ultimately, proved to be the difference between the sides.
    The youngsters had probably done enough to earn a point but were undone by a goalkeeping lapse from which they couldn’t recover.  Willem Tomlinson, after his recent first team exploits, had a rather quiet night and was overshadowed by the hardworking performances of David Carson and Lewis Hardcastle.  Carson was his usual combative self, never giving the opposition time on the ball whilst supporting Forrester whenever the Rovers attacked.  Hardcastle worked hard as a box to box player and was unfortunate to see a couple of well struck long range efforts fly just wide of the target.
    Lewis Mansell, the main striker for the Under-18’s, had a difficult night on the right of midfield, whilst Mahoney, apart from a couple of corners, had another quiet night before being substituted.  Sam Lavelle and Scott Wharton stood up well to an impressive Derby attack.  Connor Thomson, again pressed into service at right-back due to Ryan Nyambe being with the first team, had a difficult night against the very impressive Calero but he stuck to his task as did Jack Doyle on the opposite flank.
    Anton Forrester worked hard as the lone striker but found chances at a premium and when he did get them he failed to find the power or accuracy to beat Mitchell.
    vdb
    Saturday 8th August 2015 – Football League Championship
    Blackburn Rovers 1 v 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers - by Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers (1) 1
    Ikeme (own goal) 39
    David Raya; Adam Henley. Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Danny Guthrie (Corry Evans 75), Jason Lowe; Nathan Delfouneso (Fodé Koita 75), Ben Marshall, Craig Conway; Jordan Rhodes.
    Subs not used: Jason Steele (gk), Tommy Spurr, Matt Kilgallon, Chris Brown, Lee Williamson.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Wolverhampton Wanderers (2) 2
    Afobe 29, Edwards 45
    Carl Ikeme; Dominic Iorfa, Richard Stearman, Kortney Hause, Scott Golbourne; James Henry (Matt Doherty 90), Kevin McDonald, Conor Coady, Dave Edwards; Nouha Dicko (Sheyi Ojo 84), Benik Afobe (Adam Le Fondre 90 + 1).
    Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Rajiv Van La Parra, Jack Price, Ethan Ebansk-Landell.
    Manager: Kenny Jackett
    Referee: Mr. M. Haywood
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers – Danny Guthrie, Marcus Olsson
    Wolverhampton Wanderers – Dominic Iorfa, James Henry, Sheyi Ojo
    Attendance: 16,159
    There are times when you know the footballing gods are not smiling upon you and this was one such day.  After hitting the post in the opening minutes, the Rovers conceded a soft goal – nothing new there then – before hauling themselves back into the game courtesy of the Carl Ikeme palming one into the back of his own net.  At that point, enter the hapless Mr. Haywood, another in a long line of inept officials that the Football League seems to specialise in these days.  When Nouha Dicko fired in a shot from the left it seemed destined for the safe hands of David Raya until Dave Edwards flicked out a hand and diverted it into the net.  The dithering Mr. Haywood seemed to hesitate for moment and then looked across to his assistant who, clearly in need of a good optician, pointed to his head suggesting that Edwards had headed the ball home.  Haywood immediately awarded a goal to the consternation of the Rovers’ players and the Ewood faithful who have become accustomed to the appalling standard of officialdom which the Football League seems to churn out week after week.  After the break the Rovers hit the woodwork and the usually lethal Jordan Rhodes fluffed a good chance as ‘Lady Luck’ turned her back on the men in “Blue and White.â€Â  Nonetheless, there were a number of encouraging signs to take from the game despite the disappointing result.
    Gary Bowyer opted to continue with the tactical system which he had employed throughout the pre-season with two holding midfield players, three attacking midfielders and a lone striker.  Danny Guthrie made his debut alongside Jason Lowe in the deeper role whilst Nathan Delfouneso came in on the right of midfield.  In goal Bowyer opted for young David Raya over Jason Steele.
    The Rovers made a quick start to the game and after just two minutes when Ben Marshall played an inch perfect pass into the path of Rhodes who took a touch and then hammered the ball from 20 yards against the post.  More good work from Rhodes and Guthrie enabled Marshall to have a crack at goal but, sadly, he dragged his effort wide.
    On twelve minutes it was Shane Duffy who got in on the act after a Marshall free-kick had been cleared and Marcus Olsson had whipped the loose ball back into the box where Duffy met it with a powerful header only to see Ikeme tip it over the bar.
    Both Craig Conway and Guthrie had efforts which flew wide of the post as the Rovers continued to dominate the opening period of the game.
    However, on 29 minutes the Rovers old Achilles’ heel was highlighted again when they conceded a rather soft goal which was very much against the run of play.  A long ball forward skimmed off the head of Guthrie and into the path of Edwards.  In an instant the midfielder had headed the ball through to Benik Afobe who had managed to find a gap between Grant Hanley and Shane Duffy.  Afobe then flicked the ball with the outside of his boot to produce the deftest of finishes to beat Raya who had raced from his goal to try to cover the gap in the defence.
    Fortunately, the Rovers didn’t dwell on the setback but continued to press forward in search of an equaliser and it came after 39 minutes following good work by new boy Delfouneso.  The former Aston Villa and Blackpool striker picked up the ball and drove at the heart of the Wolves defence in a run which took him into the penalty area before a tackle saw the ball break into the path of Conway.  The Scottish international wasted no time in getting away a shot which struck Richard Stearman and then looped up into the air towards the crossbar.  Ikeme made a complete hash of his attempt to tip the ball over the bar and seemed to palm the ball into his own net.  It was the first and only piece of good fortune that the Rovers enjoyed throughout the afternoon.
    Six minutes later the bumbling Mr. Haywood took centre stage.  Dicko collected the ball on the left and then cut in to hit a rather optimistic effort goalwards but the ball was well covered by Raya until Edwards managed to get a hand to the ball and deflect it past a startled Rovers ‘keeper.  The home players immediately appealed for handball and even Edwards was too embarrassed to celebrate but the officials, incredibly, awarded a goal.
    It was rough justice on the Rovers who didn’t deserve to go in one behind after a very encouraging opening period.  The officials left the field for interval with a chorus of boos ringing in their ears from a very disgruntled Ewood crowd.
    Two minutes after the restart and Wolves almost caught the Rovers cold when a cross from Dominic Iorfa flashed across the goalmouth with Afobe unable to get to the ball as Shane Duffy put him under pressure.
    The half settled down into a somewhat scrappy affair but came to life when the bungling officials again appeared to get a big decision wrong.  Adam Henley raced into the area to get onto the end of a forward pass but Kortney House attempted to intercept and seemed to upend Henley in so doing.  It seemed a more than justified claim for a penalty but Mr. Haywood ignored the appeals.
    However, on 70 minutes the Rovers ought to have been level when Delfouneso cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Rhodes on the left of the area and he, in turn, forced his way past a defender and found himself on a one-on-one situation with the ‘keeper.  It was the sort of chance the Scottish international would normally tuck away with ease but on this occasion he pushed his shot wide of the far post.  Rhodes claimed the ‘keeper got a touch but, once again, Mr. Haywood saw nothing.
    With fifteen minutes remaining Bowyer rang the changes with Guthrie and Delfouneso, both of whom have not had a full pre-season’s training, giving way for Corry Evans and Fodé Koita.
    James Henry then showed a neat piece of skill in evading a couple of tackles before blasting the ball against Raya’s crossbar.
    The Rovers pushed forward in search of an equaliser and it was Koita who led the charge with a very powerful cameo in the closing stages.   He sent in a powerful long range effort which Ikeme held and then Marshall tried to catch out the ‘keeper with a free-kick to the near post but Ikeme got across his goal to make the save.
    Koita then got to the bye-line and then pulled the ball back into a sea of ‘Blue and White’ shirts but not one could get the touch that was needed to convert it into a goal.
    Three minutes into injury time the French striker almost snatched the equaliser with a powerful effort which Ikeme did brilliantly to tip the ball onto the woodwork and away for a corner.  From the corner Koita headed the ball towards the post but although Evans slid in he was unable to reach the ball.
    Deep into injury time Ojo broke clear and raced into the Rovers area only to be stopped by a last ditch tackle which could easily have been a penalty.  However, Mr Haywood stunned the Wolves fans by booking Ojo for a dive – yet other unfathomable decision by an official who had an afternoon to forget.
    For the Rovers it was a desperately disappointing afternoon in terms of the result but there were enough encouraging signs in the performance to suggest that things aren’t as bleak as some would have us believe.  Guthrie and Delfouneso did enough to suggest that once they are fully fit they will be valuable additions to the squad whilst Koita made a very favorable impression with his powerful display of running and shooting.  There are still question marks against the centre-back pairing, although Hanley looked much fitter and sharper than in the past.  David Raya confirmed his number one status with a confident display and couldn’t be blamed for either goal.  His kicking was good and he dominated the box coming to catch crosses with confidence.
    In midfield, Jason Lowe struggled at times whilst Marshall drifted in and out of the game.  Rhodes, despite his miss in the second half, looked very lively and more mobile than in the past.
    The visit of Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night will no doubt give the manager the opportunity to look at other members of his senior squad as he tries to get the right combination and mix of old and new faces.  The Rovers are a team in transition – both in personnel and tactics – with the manager and his coaching staff adopting a different formation to compensate for the loss of Rudy Gestede.  It will clearly take time to come together but there were positives to take from this game as the club continues to move forward.
    vdb
    Tuesday 4th August 2015 – Pre-Season Friendly
    AFC Fylde 5 v 1 Blackburn Rovers Under-21 Report by Parsonblue
    AFC Fylde (1) 5
    Wilson 27, Charles 65, Rowe 76, Whittington 78, Rowe 90
    First Half Team:
    Matt Urwin; Caspar Hughes, Joe Gregory, Tom Hannigan, Adam Sumner; Joey Mullen, Brad Barnes, Trialist; Cory Bent, Josh Wilson, Danny Lloyd.
    Second Half Team:
    Matt Urwin; Jake Gregory, Dom Collins, Josh Langley, Carnan Dawson; Trialist, Trialist; Dion Charles, Josh Wilson (Joe Whittingham 67), Richie Allen; Danny Rowe.
    Manager: Dave Challinor
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 (1) 1
    Forrester 16
    Max Simonsazzi; Connor Thomson, Sam Lavelle, Scott Wharton, Mark Edgar (Devarn Green 28); Connor Mahoney (Modou Cham 77), Joe Grayson, David Carson, Jack Doyle; Jordan Preston, Anton Forrester (Sam Joel 60)
    Subs not used: Ryan Crump (gk), Luke Wall, Dean Rittenberg.
    Referee: Mr. J. Mainwaring
    Bookings: None
    Attendance: 321
    The Under-21’s successful pre-season campaign came to an end with a hugely disappointing display in their final game before the League programme begins next week.  Having taken the lead after just sixteen minutes, the Rovers youngsters were pegged back before the break and then completely overwhelmed after the interval as AFC Fylde lived up to their billing as favourites to take the Vanarama National League North title.
    The Rovers, with Italian trialist Max Simonsazzi in goal, were given any early warning that it was going to be anything but an easy night when Cory Bent raced into the area and fired across the face of the goal.  Minutes later, the lively Bent’s cross was fumbled by Simonsazzi and the ball fell invitingly at the feet of Danny Lloyd.  However, by the time he got his shot away Simonsazzi had recovered his position to make an excellent save.
    Gradually, the Rovers began to play their way back into the game and on sixteen minutes they took the lead with a well worked goal.  The Rovers attacked down the left and good work by Jack Doyle, playing on the left of midfield, played in Forrester in the area and the striker took a touch and then blasted the ball past former Rover Matt Urwin into the back of the net.
    Three minutes later Forrester might well have had a second but delayed his shot after Jordan Preston had played him into the area.  However, Forrester kept possession and worked the ball out to Connor Mahoney on the right and he squared the ball back into the centre for David Carson to meet it but his effort flew high over the bar.
    At this stage the Rovers looked quite bright and Simonsazzi restored his confidence when came to claim a cross under pressure.
    However, on twenty-seven minutes the home drew level with a splendid goal from Josh Wilson who picked the ball up on the edge of the area and blasted an unstoppable thunderbolt past Simonsazzi.
    The Rovers responded with another effort from Preston which Urwin saved quite comfortably.  They then received another blow when Mark Edgar seemed to go over on his ankle and although he tried to continue after treatment he was replaced on twenty-eight minutes by Devarn Green.  Green went to play on the left of midfield and Doyle dropped back to his familiar left-back position.
    Just past the half-hour mark Mahoney played a lovely ball into Preston who mishit his shot and the ball trickled past the post.  Forrester then forced a corner which came to nothing as the game settled down into a fairly even affair.
    After thirty-five minutes the home side had a glorious chance to take the lead when Lloyd’s cross from the left to the opposite flank was completely missed by Doyle and Bent stuck a fierce shot against the foot of the post.
    At the other end a neat inter-change of passing between Forrester and Mahoney ended with Mahoney firing wide.
    Simonsazzi then did well to hold a shot from Mullen but on the brink of half time he was forced to rush from his goal as Bent split open the Rovers defence with a ball which set Mullen free and racing through on goal.  As the ‘keeper came to meet him, Mullen pushed his shot narrowly wide of the post.
    After the break the Rovers kept the same eleven but the home side made eight changes as they opted to utilise their entire senior squad.
    The home side settled very quickly despite the multiple changes and after fifty-two minutes Carnan Dawson showed excellent control to bring the ball down in the Rovers’ area and then, in an instant, fire a well struck effort which forced an excellent save from the young Italian goalkeeper.
    On the hour mark the Rovers introduced Sam Joel in place of Forrester but just five minutes later it was the home side who grabbed a deserved lead.  The tricky Dion Charles turned Doyle inside out before cutting inside and rifling a shot across the goal into the opposite corner of the net with the ‘keeper well beaten.  It was a wonderful piece of individual skill from the winger.
    The home side then replaced the impressive Josh Wilson with Joe Whittington as they made their final change of the evening.  However, the tide had well and truly turned in their favour as the Rovers defence looked increasing fragile against the pace and trickery of the Fylde front three.
    On seventy-six minutes a wonderful touch and turn by Danny Rowe left Sam Lavelle floundering in his wake before he calmly placed his shot well wide of Simonsazzi and into the back of the net.
    The introduction of Modou Cham for Mahoney did little to alter the course of the game and on seventy-eight minutes the home side made it four when Joe Whittington drilled the ball home with unerring accuracy from around twenty yards out.
    The Rovers youngsters looked totally shell-shocked from the second-half blitz that had blown them away.
    Four minutes from the end Joel had a shot which was blocked for a corner but, in truth, the Rovers had long since ceased to have any impact on the game as an attacking force.
    On the stroke of time the Rovers conceded a fifth when Simonazzi came out for a ball which he was never going to reach and Lavelle got in a tangle with the result that Rowe was presented with a gift as he seemed to strike the ball against Lavelle and into the net.
    There was little comfort Damien Johnson and John Filan could take from this game.  Too many players were well below the standards of which they are capable.  The home side employed four different wingers throughout the game and all four had the beating of the Rovers full-backs.  Indeed, the pace and power of the Fylde team was hugely impressive.
    The first half had been a fairly even affair with both sides having the odd chance to take the lead before the interval but after the break the defending by the Rovers turned into something of a horror show.  It was also a difficult night to judge the trialist goalkeeper.  Simonazzi is a youth player with Parma who could do little to stop the avalanche of goals that came his way.
    vdb

    By vdb, in Transfers,

    Rovers have confirmed that midfielder Danny Guthrie has signed for the club after a successful trial.  The former Newcastle midfielder has signed a 2 year deal.
    Talking to the official website (www.rovers.co.uk) Guthrie said  “It’s been a long summer, but I’m delighted to get it done and be ready and available for the first game.  “The gaffer made it quite clear that he really wanted me to join the club and felt strongly about what I could bring to the side. Every player wants to hear that from their manager and know that they’re going to be potentially an important part of the squad".
    Guthrie is in line to make his Rovers debut against Wolves at Ewood Park on Saturday.
     
    vdb
    Contrary to national media reports which have suggested that Middlesbrough have made a £14 million bid for Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes.  BRFCS understands that these reports are wide of the mark.
    Middlesbrough retain a strong interest in signing Rhodes but have not been back with another formal offer for the striker but are expected to try again later this week.  Middlesbrough tried to negotiate a deal directly with Venky's but BRFCS understand that the owners have not responded to that request.
    Rhodes played in Rovers friendly against Wigan on Saturday but has already stated that he wants to be given the opportunity to talk to Middlesbrough.
    vdb
    Saturday 1st August 2015 – Pre-Season Friendly
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 6 v 0 Preston North End Under-18
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 (5) 6
    Mansell 4, Fawns 27, Barry (og) 34, Mansell 37, Mansell (pen) 44, Steer 50
    First Half Team: Ben Ascroft; Lewis Travis, Matthew Platt, Charley Doyle, Ben Williams; Tre Pemberton, Trialist, Stefan Mols, Alex Curran, Mason Fawns; Lewis Mansell
    Second Half Team: Ben Ascroft; Matty Makinson, Tyler Magloire, Joe Rankin-Costello, Josh Askew; Ramirez Howarth, Callum Hendry, Jan Pirretas, Oliver Mehew; Lewis Mansell, Joel Steer.
    This was my first look at the Under-18’s this season and what a powerful performance during a first half in which they simply swept aside the North End team.  The game was barely four minutes old when Lewis Travis, a former Liverpool trainee who joined the Rovers last season and featured in the first team game at Rochdale the other week, crossed the ball from the right and Lewis Mansell was on hand to notch the opening goal.
    It was virtually all one way traffic as the Rovers youngsters poured forward with Mansell proving a real handful for the visiting defence.
    A quick break on the right saw Tre Pemberton switch the play to the opposite flank with a sweeping crossfield pass which found Mansell on the left and he cut in and struck a decent shot which was saved.  Minutes later he was denied when he chased a through ball but was just beaten to it by the goalkeeper.
    The Rovers went two up after twenty-seven minutes when Alex Curran played in Mansell with a delightful ball which split the visiting defence.  Mansell took the ball on before blasting a shot which the ‘keeper parried into the path of Mason Fawns who tapped the ball home.
    It was 3-0 after 34 minutes when a corner from Fawns was headed by Doyle only to hit Tom Barry and deflect into the net.
    Moments later Stefan Mols was played through and hit a powerful shot which the shell-shocked ‘keeper fumbled as the ball went through his legs but he recovered to make a save.
    On thirty-six minutes it was 4-0 with Mansell, once again, being the scorer.  He took possession of the ball out on the right and then proceeded to twist and turn his way past defenders until he reached the area and then powered a shot into the back of the net.
    Four minutes later Mansell turned provider when he played in Tre Pemberton but although the winger’s shot was well struck it was slightly off target.
    The Rovers snatched a fifth goal on the brink of half-time.  A throw-in reached Mansell in the area who had a defender climbing all over him and the referee had no hestitation in awarding a penalty.  Mansell took the kick himself and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to complete his hat-trick.
    The interval saw Billy Barr make nine changes to his team with only Ben Ascroft and Lewis Mansell remaining for the second-half.
    The second-half was only five minutes old when the Rovers added a sixth goal.  Another attack found full-back Matty Makinson with the ball on the bye-line and he simply pulled it back for Joel Steer to tap into an empty net.
    The game became a more even affair, with North End making changes to their team and the Rovers simply containing the visitors with little difficulty.  Mansell and Steer both had efforts off target but in comparison with the opening forty-five minutes the second half was a fairly quiet affair with the Rovers winning the game quite comfortably.
    Lewis Mansell, who was a substitute for the first team at Oldham last week, looked a real handful at this level.  However, he is still quite raw – as was shown at Oldham – but will hopefully develop over the course of the season playing for the Under-18’s and Under-21’s.  He looks a real prospect and certainly knows how to find the back of the net.
    Others who caught eye were the hard working Stefan Mols in midfield in the first half and in the second half the rather elegant midfield play of Jan Pirretas who always seemed to find time on the ball without being hurried in his decision making.  Alex Curran also looked a very busy player with an eye for a pass from midfield.
    It will be interesting to see how these lads fair against the tough opposition that they will face in League games.