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  1. This morning BRFCS talked to the man behind the bid to buy Blackburn Rovers, Syed Ali, via his representatives. Mr Ali has been granted a four-week exclusivity period in which he hopes to purchase Blackburn Rovers. The Q&A aimed to ask questions which have not been asked by the media. Below are Mr Ali's answers: Fans are keen to learn about his background. Therefore, it would be great if we could start with learning about his business background. Based in Bahrain, Ahsan Ali Syed is the founder and President of Western Gulf Advisory (WGA). He founded WGA in 2008, following in the footsteps of his family who have over 150 years of history in private sector lending across Asia. Mr Ali has been self-employed since the age of 16 and closed his first significant deal worth $1.5 million at the age of 18. Mr Ali now plays a role in the management and the boards of over 133 companies worldwide. Mr Ali considers himself and his company to be experts in turnaround stories by converting non-performing assets into performing assets. Between 2003 and 2004 he bought a Canadian company for C$ 565.000 and transformed it into a valuable vehicle worth C$ 8 million within only 16 months. Mr Ali’s expertise and professionalism is highly recognised in the financial world, which is why he acts as a financial adviser to sovereign wealth, royalty, as well as many high net worth individuals. Mr Ali understands entrepreneurial needs and prides himself on being a reliable partner for all his clients. One of the main reasons he started his own asset management company was because he believed in his own ability and qualifications to manage and invest his own wealth carefully. Mr Ali strongly believes that investments are not just about profit-making and capital preservation but also about selflessness and creating social welfare. Mr Ali holds a bachelor degree in law as well as a master degree in finance from universities in India as well as abroad. He mentioned in interviews yesterday that he had followed Rovers since they won the Premier League in 1995. Has he followed them as a fan or viewed them as a business opportunity? He has followed Blackburn Rovers for about 10 years now and has become a fan over the years. Many fans are excited by the potential takeover but cannot understand why he has chosen to purchase Rovers when there are other bigger clubs like Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle up for sale. What are the reasons for purchasing Rovers? There are two reasons why he decided to approach Rovers rather than the “big names†like Liverpool: 1. The emotional aspect that connects him with Rovers as a fan 2. The business aspect, obviously giving him the chance to turn around the club with the necessary financial resources and the right strategy in place Some people are becoming very cynical about the huge amounts of money involved in football and believe it is moving away from the fans. Rovers fans are very proud of the community/family feeling at Blackburn Rovers and wonder if it is too early to ask if he has thoughts about how he will build from that strong sense of community belonging the club has maintained? The community feeling at Blackburn Rovers is something that has impressed him in particular. This is why he asked all Rovers fans to treat him as one amongst them and not as an owner. When talking about the money, one should keep in mind that this is a long-term investment enabling the club to grow steadily. No one wants to change the club radically but just provide the resources necessary to utilise its full potential. Rovers are a club with a deep sense of history and tradition — the shirt, the badge and so on. Is Mr Ali planning to keep the traditions, evolve and update them, or go for something radically new? He is very well aware of the traditions as well as of the legacy of Jack Walker — no intentions to change as there is no need for change either. Because the town is relatively small and impoverished, the relationship to the football club is altogether far more symbiotic and important than that between the big city clubs and their host communities. How does he see the town of Blackburn benefiting from his global aspirations for the club? Although he is not looking for short-term revenues, one of his goals is to make the club self-sustainable. This will involve a strategy Blackburn as well as Lancashire will take advantage of. However, it is a little premature to talk about this. The club gets poor treatment from the national media, who are obsessed by the big city clubs. Is he going to use this to his advantage by "flying under the radar" as he builds up the team and the business or is he going to raise the profile of Rovers from day 1? As any true fan he wants the club to get that treatment from the national media it deserves. However, this should be because of their achievements on the football field and this is something on his agenda. What particularly impressed him about Jean-Claud Darmon and does he have some specific marketing objectives? Jean-Claude Darmon is the so-called “father of French footballâ€. He is very experienced in marketing football clubs and is currently not only one of our advisors but also works on a strategy for Blackburn Rovers. What timescales does he envisage for growing attendances and building a new stand and other facilities at Ewood? He has a 15-year plan for the Rovers divided into 3 phases of 5 years each. The first phase will focus on marketing the club nationally and internationally, increase the capacity of the stadium and increase the facilities of the academy to enhance the potential of young talent in Lancashire. Fans are delighted that he is looking to keep Sam and John and the people behind the scenes at Ewood because they are generally regarded as doing an excellent job. What are the characteristics he particularly looks for in a management team when he is assessing them as candidates for investment? Obviously, Sam and John have made a fantastic job at Blackburn especially when taking their limited resources into consideration. He is a huge fan of talent and this is something he appreciates when it comes to business. Sam is renowned for his pioneering work in the English game for introducing sports scientists and pushing the envelope of what is possible in developing players. Would it be possible to develop a world-class centre of excellence in sports science at Brockhall perhaps linked to some of the top-class universities in the region? Our team is currently working on the different aspects of utilising the potential of Blackburn Rovers and its assets. Again, it is a little premature to go into details here. Today is the tenth anniversary of Jack Walker's death. Jack only owned the club in the last nine years of his life yet you have plans for the next 15 years. How do you feel looking at the legacy of Jack and the prospect that his tenure will be longer and even greater than that of Jack? He is well aware of the legacy of Jack and his inheritance. However, he does not want to compete with him but wants the best for the club — as Jack did. This is all that counts at the moment for him. How have the talks between the negotiating team and the Rovers board gone over the last 2 days? What kind of timescale is he looking at in terms of completing the takeover? The talks went on very well and all parties are on the same side. What will follow is the formal procedure and unfortunately this takes time. Therefore, it is very hard to predict the exact timescale. But it is obvious that Mr Ali wants to complete the takeover as soon as possible. I would like to put Mr Ali into a hypothetical situation: he has completed the purchase of Blackburn Rovers — on day one what would be his immediate 5 objectives? Liquidity support for Sam Enhance capabilities of the academy Discuss suggestions and opinions with fans Marketing nationally and internationally Work hard to maintain premiership status Finally, does he have a message for the fans? The oxygen for the success of any football club is not financial resources but the fans that support a club. He would be truly delighted if the Rovers fans would accept him as one amongst them. View full article
  2. BRFCS.com understands that reports in the local and national media that Steve Kean's future is set to be discussed are true. Senior Venky's sources have revealed that the owners have taken their full allocation for the Chelsea game with members of the family set to be at the game. Sources have revealed that talks will take place over the weekend and Kean's future will be high on the agenda. The decision to sack or retain Steve Kean will be made by Mrs Desai. Thus far she has backed Steve Kean, despite being advised by club officials to sack him (as revealed in the leaked Paul Hunt letter). However, the club's relegation from the Premier League might have caused her to have a rethink. Sources have also revealed that the family watched the game against Wigan on Monday and that Mrs Desai is in "mourning" over Rovers' relegation from the Premier League. However, despite relegation, sources have reiterated that the club is not for sale. View full article
  3. Bordeaux striker Anthony Modeste is set to complete a 6-month loan move to Blackburn Rovers. A deal has been agreed with Bordeaux, with the striker due at Brockhall to undergo a medical. If Modeste passes the medical, then it is likely that he will be available for the Everton game on Saturday. Modeste has not featured for Bordeaux since October. He has made 59 appearances for the club, scoring 15 goals after moving from Nice in 2010 for a fee of £3 million. Modeste has played 15 times for the French Under-21s. View full article
  4. They say that twelve months is a long time and certainly for Blackburn Rovers fans the last twelve months have been a long, hard slog since Venky's London Limited finally completed the takeover of Blackburn Rovers Football Club on 19 November 2010. Let's rewind twelve months. While not having the financial resources to compete with the Premier League "big spenders", Rovers as a club were widely regarded at the time as a "model club" by the Premier League. The club was well managed by the likes of John Williams and Tom Finn, it did everything by the book and was run to very high professional standards. On the pitch the club had finished 10th the previous season and was on course for another good finish in the Premier League. So when Venky's took over, many fans were looking forward to having new owners who wanted to continue the traditions of the club and provide funding which would allow the club to compete in the transfer market. Today, twelve months later, that well-run club is now looking to be in chaos; the professional management team has been dismantled and on the pitch the club avoided relegation last season only on the final day and has continued that poor form this season and is now firmly entrenched in the bottom three. There have been protests against the manager, who Venky's still refuse to sack despite only 6 wins in 32 league games, and now supporter anger is starting to turn towards the owners. Both on and off the pitch, the situation is the complete opposite to what it was twelve months ago. At the time of the takeover, Venky's were party to an agreement that included an undertaking to maintain the stability of the club in the form of explicit assurances made to the Walker Trust's holding company, BRFC Investments Limited, which had a 99.9% controlling stake in the club. These assurances given by the Venky's Board in the original Shares Offer statement provided as follows. (See this 23 November 2010 article for details of the original document.) (a) Venky's "will commit funds on a consistent and systematic basis to future transfer and/or loan activity". While the level of spending has been greater than in previous years, the figures quoted for the sales of players, in particular Phil Jones and Niko Kalinic, and the figures quoted for the players brought into the club suggest that the net transfer spend is covered by sales. ( Venky's "intends to continue to support the existing management team and staff, and that it is committed to the future development of, and investment in, the Club's academy and youth infrastructure". Within one month of taking over, the manager (Sam Allardyce) had been sacked; within three months the chairman (John Williams) had left; and within nine months the managing director (Tom Finn), finance officer (Martin Goodman) and secretary (Andrew Pincher) had all left the club. Thus, within just nine months of the takeover, virtually all of the "existing management team" had left the club. © Venky's "will continue to support, promote and extend the Club's local community and CSR activities". Venky's have continued this work. (d) Venky's "will seek to extend the Blackburn Rovers name and brand into India, the rest of south-east Asia and beyond". This has perhaps been the biggest success of Venky's ownership. Blackburn Rovers' brand is now recognised in India and the recent visit by the team to Pune was a huge success in PR terms. (e) Venky's "will seek to develop and improve commercial performance across sponsorship, the Club's kit deal and general merchandising activity". Rovers' kit sponsorship was donated to a charity (Princes Trust), so the income from a kit deal was lost. In addition, revenue from matchday corporate sales has fallen. (f) Venky's "will seek to enhance the fan experience at Ewood Park itself on match days (and non match days) and to maximise season ticket sales and any remaining match day ticket sales". Season ticket sales for this season have fallen and matchday attendances are down. Due to the team's performance and protests against the manager, many fans would argue that the fan experience on both match days and non-match days has not been enhanced. (g) Venky's "intends to improve the Club's media platforms (for example the Club's TV channel) and to become more active in the social media space". The club's media platforms have largely remained the same as they were twelve months ago. The above comments on the assurances made by Venky's at the time of purchasing the club quite amply illustrate that our new owners have not abided by certain key undertakings during the twelve months of their tenure of the club. Their failure to do so raises the question that is on every fan's mind: Where does Blackburn Rovers Football Club go from here? Despite what manager Steve Kean says, on the pitch the club is in big trouble. Rovers now face a battle to retain their Premier League status with a manager who thus far has proved incapable of consistently winning football matches. There are 27 games left this season and Rovers would need the points equivalent of at least 10 wins to stand even a chance of surviving. The omens do not look good. With Kean in charge, the previous 32 games have resulted in just 6 league wins, so to even have a fighting chance of survival Kean would need to improve his games:wins ratio rather substantially. So, that leads us to the next question: What should Venky's do? My advice to Venky's would be as follows: Sack Steve Kean with immediate effect. He has proved over the last 11 months that he is not capable of managing a football team. In his place, appoint a manager with Premier League experience. The likes of Martin O'Neill, Mark Hughes and even Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by the right project. Once the manager situation is sorted out, get the off-the-field situation under control. Appoint someone who has the requisite skills to run a football club as chairman or chief executive and give this person the full authority required to run the club. Preferably ring John Williams and Tom Finn and beg them to come back to the club. Then task the chairman with bringing back professionalism in the running of Blackburn Rovers Football Club. Talk to the fans, explain to them the "real" vision that you have for the club, and be honest and open about this. You will find that Blackburn Rovers fans respond well to being told the plain truth rather than being fed PR snippets. If Venky's follow the above advice and take the necessary action, then perhaps they can start to rebuild the club and rebuild the relationship that they have with the fans. Even if they did all of the above, however, it would still take a lot of hard work to repair the damage that has been done to the club over the last twelve months. The consequences of not doing the above, however, does not bear thinking. Twelve months ago today, Venky's took charge of the Rovers and on that day Mrs Desai, the chairperson of Venky's, made a statement full of promise: "We are very proud to be associated with Blackburn Rovers, a team with whom we share many values and ambitions. Going forward we plan to focus on leveraging the global influence in establishing Blackburn Rovers as a truly global brand. We will absolutely respect the Jack Walker legacy and will be actively supporting the organisation to ensure that Blackburn Rovers remains one of the best run clubs within the Premier League. We are particularly pleased that the deal has full support of the Walker Trustees, the Chairman and the management team who will of course remain in place with our full support." For many Rovers fans this leaves a very empty feeling. View full article
  5. German club Freiburg have today claimed that they have received an offer from Rovers for Papiss Cisse. Freiburg sporting director Dirk Dufner told Kicker: "I can confirm that Blackburn have made us an offer." Cisse, who is a Senegal international, has scored has scored 22 goals in this season's Bundesliga and a host of clubs, including Arsenal and Liverpool, are said to be interested in signing him. View full article
  6. RIP Jack Walker - 19th May 1929 - 17th August 2000. You will always be Rovers number one fan! View full article
  7. Bad weather has hit Blackburn's semi-final against Villa and the game has been called off. Statement View full article
  8. Rovers claimed a vital point today in an entertaining clash against Wigan at the DW Stadium. Benni McCarthy gave Rovers the lead on 30 minutes scoring from close range. Wigan came back in the second half and equalised through Hugo Rodallega who powered home a close-range header. The football on show was not for the purists but neither side was prepared to settle for a point though and a frenetic second-half ensued. Jason Scotland fluffed a one-on-one with Paul Robinson and McCarthy had an overhead kick saved by Chris Kirkland. Sam Allardyce felt that Rovers deserved to claim three points: "We are sat here hugely disappointed and very down in the mouth in terms of we know we should have had three points to get us that bit further up the league. We've come out here and matched them in every department." Rovers now face Sunderland on Monday, with the table being so congested a win could see Rovers climb into the top 10, whereas a defeat could see Rovers slip into the relegation zone. View full article
  9. Sky Sports have released the first batch of fixtures (August to November) that they will be televising “liveâ€. Rovers feature three times: Sunday, 11th September 2011 Fulham v Rovers Kick-off: 4pm Saturday, 17th September 2011 Rovers v Arsenal Kick-off: 12:45pm Monday, 28th November 2011 Stoke v Rovers Kick-off: 8pm View full article
  10. Numerous reliable sources have indicated that Blackburn Rovers captain Chris Samba is set to move to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. It is reported that a deal of £11 million has been agreed between the two clubs. Anzhi have until 9pm tonight (UK Time) to complete the deal for Samba. Samba has not played for Rovers since the Stoke game and has recently been training away from the first team after he handed in a transfer request during the January transfer window. Steve Kean stated on numerous occasions that Samba was not for sale and when the transfer window closed, Rovers fans hoped that he would remain at the club until the end of the season. Should Samba leave, then Rovers would not be able to sign a replacement until the end of the season and will be left with just three recognised centre-backs in Dann, Givet and Hanley. It is also being reported by the Sporting Intelligence website that the bulk of the transfer fee received from the Samba sale will be taken by Barclays and will help to secure Rovers' immediate financial position with the bank. View full article
  11. Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Benni McCarthy is expected to complete his move to West Ham within the next 48 hours. In an interview given to the club's official website (www.rovers.co.uk) Allardyce said: "I don't know exactly where things are up to, but I do know that he is close to finally becoming a West Ham player. It is a work permit situation that is the only hiccup, but I think that will be overcome in the next day or so." Sam also confirmed that replacements had been looked at and suggested that the money could be used to strengthen other parts of the team: "We are looking at the opportunity to bring another player in if that transfer does go through. When it is final, nailed on, that he has left, then we'll try and move as quickly as we can to secure another player. It might not be on the front line." So it does appear that finally the McCarthy transfer saga is coming to an end. View full article
  12. Rovers have confirmed this evening that they have secured the services of Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf on a season-long loan deal. The 22-year-old joined United in July 2009 and could figure in Rovers friendly against Hearts tomorrow. View full article
  13. BRFCS News Editorial Comment Over the last 48 hours the Rovers have made headlines across the world, so as the dust starts to settle it is an apt time to look back over recent events and consider some issues that have arisen during a most turbulent time in Rovers' recent history. Rovers shocked the footballing world on Monday evening with the announcement that manager Sam Allardyce and his assistant Neil MacDonald had been relieved of their duties. Whilst there had been murmurings that "trouble was brewing", no one expected the owners to take such drastic and decisive action so quickly. Subsequently, the owners, through Venky's chairwoman Anuradha Desai, have said that Sam was sacked because he did not fit in with their vision for the club. The events of Monday were traumatic enough, but the events of yesterday caused uproar among sections of Rovers fans. Early morning reports from Sky Sports News suggested that two cornerstones of the club's executive management structure, John Williams and Tom Finn, had both resigned. This understandably caused huge concern within the fan base. Both are well respected by fans, but more importantly it would have meant that the club would have been thrown into turmoil behind the scenes. As the day progressed, tensions continued as reports from Sky suggested that members of Venky's team had arrived to discuss the terms of departure. Counterclaims on this site from respected and well-informed members that these stories were "wide of the mark" were finally given credence when [em]Lancashire Telegraph[/em]'s Paul Plunkett confirmed on his twitter feed that John Williams had confirmed that he was not leaving the club. Rovers fans heaved a collective sigh of relief. Reports in the national media today have been less than complimentary regarding the current situation at Ewood Park. Much of the reporting is based on rumour rather than fact, but still articles in [em]The Guardian[/em] and [em]Daily Telegraph[/em] do raise important questions that need to be answered. The events of the last 48 hours have left many fans confused. After purchasing the club, Venky's will feel that they have the right to run it as they see fit, and it goes without saying that they did not buy the club in order to make a complete hash of it and lose the huge investment that they have made (between £40 and 50 million according to reports). They also have the right to hire and fire the manager as they wish, and since Sam Allardyce did not fit their vision, it can be argued that it is better to take decisive action at an early stage rather than persist with an arrangement that can lead to even more problems further down the line. It can also be argued that by taking such decisive action it gives them the maximum amount of time to get things working in a manner they feel will help the club reach the "vision" that they have for the club. Having said that, it is also quite natural for fans to raise questions and concerns that they may have. At the end of the day, the club cannot exist without the fans, for whom the club involves not only a financial investment but also a personal and emotional investment. In order that the fans can continue to identify with the club, I believe that a number of issues need to be addressed. The first issue concerns the need for Venky's to communicate with fans. They need to explain to fans what their vision for the club is. When the takeover was completed, there were various media reports that quoted the new owners, but as of yet they have not explained their roadmap for the future. Surely even a simple interview on Rovers TV or the official website is not beyond them. The second issue that needs to be addressed is the role of Kentaro. Again, fans are relying on media reports for information. While some of the reporting on the matter is informed, some of it is clearly not, and it would be better if the owners came out and said exactly what the role of Kentaro is. Thirdly there seems to be an issue regarding communication, and yesterday was an excellent case in point. Mrs Desai had given an interview that suggested that the appointment of a new manager would take months and that Venky's were happy for Steve Kean to run team affairs for the duration of this period. However, her brother Venkatesh Rao was also giving an interview in which he said that the new manager had been identified and the appointment was in the pipeline. This is just one example and there are countless other ones where the owners are not singing from the same hymn sheet. This only serves to create confusion and add to a growing perception among fans that the owners do not know what they are doing. At the moment fans are being left to speculate as to the direction of the club. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of uncertainty. This is most unfortunate because the focus should be on what happens "on the field" as the team enters a critical, season-defining period of matches. Consecutive home games against West Ham and Stoke are crucial — 6 points and Rovers can start to look upwards; however, two defeats and suddenly a relegation battle will loom. Unless the owners appoint a new manager very soon indeed, Steve Kean, who is a highly regarded coach, has a massive job on his hands. Off the field it seems that John Williams and Tom Finn will be staying at the club for the time being, and that will help to bring some much-needed stability, but it is important that our new owners take charge of the situation and show some clear direction to all those involved in our club. View full article
  14. Rovers are closing in on signing Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes, who has been the club's number one transfer target. BRFCS understands that the clubs have agreed a fee of £8 million, which will be paid in instalments over the next 4 years. In addition, Rovers have agreed to pay add-ons dependent on performance (for example a promotion bonus). The deal will almost certainly represent a record transfer between two Championship clubs. The deal is not yet complete as the player must pass a medical and formally agree personal terms. Rovers must complete the deal before the transfer window shuts at 11pm tomorrow. Sources close to the owners have also suggested that Rovers could sign a further 2 players before the transfer window shuts on Friday, but this would now be dependent on the club selling players. Rovers are expecting interest in Steven Nzonzi, Martin Olsson and Mauro Formica on transfer deadline day, and there is also rumoured interest in Scott Dann from Southampton and QPR. At this moment there have been no bids for any Rovers players. View full article
  15. Friday 24th July 2015 – Pre-Season Friendly Tranmere Rovers 0 v 2 Blackburn Rovers Tranmere Rovers  (0) 0 Scott Davies (Luke Pilling, 84); Liam Hogan (Mitch Duggan, 75), Ritchie Sutton (Evan Gumbs, 80), MichaelIhiekwe (Jack Fleming, 80), Matt Hill (Trialist, 45); Lois Maynard (Kevin Cringle, 84), Jay Harris (Trialist, 45), Steven Jennings (Ben Jago, 75), Liam Ridehalgh (Eddie Clarke, 75); Cole Stockton (Trialist, 80), Andy Mangan (Trialist, 60). Manager: Keith Hill Blackburn Rovers (0) 2 Sarpong 76, Mahoney 81 David Raya; David Carson, Sam Lavelle, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle; Connor Thomson, Sacha Petshi, Liam Nolan; Jeffrey Sarpong (Luke Wall 77), Anton Forrester (Jordan Preston 46), MaicSema (Connor Mahoney 76). Subs not used: Andrew Fisher (gk) Lewis Mansell. Manager: Gary Bowyer Referee: Mr. B. Johnson Bookings: None Attendance: Football has a habit of lifting the spirits when you least expect it. Having spent the early afternoon reading the doom and gloom surrounding the Jordan Rhodes interview expressing his wish to be elsewhere, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that one ventured to Prenton Park. A quick glance at the teamsheet – a mixture of youth and trialists – did little to engender enthusiasm for the ninety minutes which lay ahead. A couple of hours later we were leaving Prenton Park with spirits well and truly lifted after an excellent performance from the youngsters and some very promising trialists. It proved, as if we ever doubted it, that if Messrs Rhodes and Gestede depart the world does not come to an end and, more importantly, neither does Blackburn Rovers. Indeed, on the way home the talk of Rhodes and Gestede which had dominated the outward journey was long forgotten and instead the discussion turned to the promising performances that the youngsters had given. With a trip to Boundary Park the following day, Gary Bowyer selected a young squad for this game and must have been more than delighted with what he saw. This was as well as I’ve seen the youngsters play for some time. The manager opted for a different formation, going 4-3-3, with trialists Jeffrey Sarpong and MaicSema playing on either side of Anton Forrester in a very nimble and pacey front three. Liam Nolan, Sacha Petshi and Connor Thomson formed an impressive middle three. The Rovers took the initiative from the off and might well have scored after only five minutes. SachiPetshi played the ball out to David Carson who had made ground down the wing from full-back. Carson then whipped in a delightful centre to the back post which was met by the head of MaicSema, but his whilst his effort beat Scott Davies the ball hit the crossbar and rebounded to safety. Tranmere’s first effort on goal also brought their right-back to the fore but when Liam Hogan burst into the area he lost his head and fired high, wide and not very handsome when he really ought to have done better. Steven Jennings, on 25 minutes, came closer to breaking the deadlock for the home side but his effort from the edge of the box struck Scott Wharton and deflected wide for a corner which came to nothing. It was an entertaining game which was played on a fast surface thanks to the pre-match rain. The Rovers looked comfortable in possession and played their way through midfield with Petschi dominating proceedings. He displayed a good touch, was comfortable on the ball and used the ball intelligently feeding both wide players and supporting Anton Forrester. Both Jeffrey Sarpong and MaicSema caught the eye with tricky wing play and both looked to have a fair turn of speed. Tranmere, in fairness, gave as good as they got and the game was played at fair pace as both sides looked to knock it around on the ground rather than going for long, high balls into the box. If Petschi was the mainspring of the Rovers midfield then Lois Maynard was the man at the heart of most of the home team’s best moments. One attempt to catch David Raya out at his near post was easily dealt with by the young Spanish ‘keeper whilst a second attempt soared high over the bar. On 34 minutes, Maynard whipped in a fierce half-volley which Raya did well to save. On 43 minutes Sarpong struck a long range shot which Scott Davies saved. Although goalless, the first forty-five minutes had been a very entertaining affair with the young Rovers side playing some very attractive football. The home side made a couple of changes after the interval whilst the  Rovers made one change with Jordan Preston replacing Forrester, who appeared to have pick up a knock just before the break. Within seconds of the restart Preston was presented with a golden opportunity to put the Rovers ahead. Sema made a good run down the left, cut into the area and then pulled the ball back for Preston who blazed his effort over the bar from close range. A minute later Preston was involved in what seemed a nasty incident with Michael Ihiekwe. The Tranmere defender stooped low to head the ball just as Preston turned to volley it but fortunately, after treatment to a head injury, the defender was able to continue. A flowing move by the home side on 52 minutes ended with the ever-dangerous Maynard having another shot at goal which Raya dealt with. Both sides were playing some quick, incisive, one-touch football which was easy on the eye and providing plenty of entertainment for the fans of both sides. Sarprong got on the end of a through ball which caught out the home defence but, with Carson calling for a pass on the outside, the trialist went for glory and fired over the bar. Tranmere started to push the Rovers back a little more and Cole Stockton blasted a good chance over the bar. However, on 63 minutes the Rovers really ought to have taken the lead after excellent work on the right by Semawhich saw his low cross reach an unmarked Sarpong on the opposite post. Sadly, the winger side-footed wide from about four yards out. Fortunately, the youngster made amends on 76 minutes. The Rovers worked the ball in and around the Tranmere penalty area with a number of intricate passes before the ball was pulled back to Sarpong on the edge of the area. His well struck shot completely wrong-footed Davies and with the aid of a possible slight deflection it flew into the back of the net. The goal was the signal for more changes to be made by both sides but it was the Rovers who continued to dominate possession with their midfield trio looking stronger and stronger as the game went on. On 81 minutes the Rovers clinched the match with a lovely goal. Mahoney, who had looked very lively after replacing Sarpong, played a delightful one-two then cut inside, leaving the full-back in his wake, and as he moved into the area from the left he drilled a well struck shot into the bottom corner of the net with Davies well beaten. Three minutes later Nolan played in Thomson but he rolled his shot just wide whilst three minutes from the end Carson went on a good run, cut inside the area but fired over after his first effort had been blocked. Gary Bowyer will no doubt have been highly delighted to see the progress that many of these youngsters are making and the performances of the trialists will have given him food for thought. With the restrictions which the club are now under it is going to be a difficult balancing act to sign the players who will bring sufficient versatility to the club and improve the quality of the squad. However, nights like this leave you feeling that Armageddon may not be around the corner just yet. View full article

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