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Match Report


Posted Sun 08 Mar 15 at 18:00 PM

Report: Liverpool 0 Rovers 0

Rovers' dreams of a Wembley appearance remain very much on after a superb display in a goalless draw at Anfield.

Their name will be in the hat for Monday night's draw and it will be there on merit as they more then held their own against Liverpool.

The first half saw Rovers have the better of the chances as Rudy Gestede and Craig Conway went close. Daniel Sturridge with the best opportunity for the Reds, easily dealt with by Simon Eastwood.

Alex Baptiste forced the save of the match from Simon Mignolet early in the second, and although the home side dominated possession in the latter stages, Rovers weren't unduly troubled in defence.

Marshalled superbly by captain Matt Kilgallon, the Rovers saw out time with ease to set up a re-match at Ewood Park next month.

Ahead of the game Rovers made seven changes for the trip to Anfield, whilst the hosts made just the two.

But barely two minutes in Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel landed heavily after his first aerial duel with Rudy Gestede, and after an eight minute delay whilst the Slovakian received treatment, he was eventually stretchered off to be replaced by Kolo Toure.

When play eventually resumed it was Gestede, back in the starting XI after being rested in midweek, who continued to cause the Liverpool backline problems. A Tom Cairney free-kick saw the forward win his header but the effort went wide.

The hosts looked to hit back with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge lively, whilst a superb last-ditch challenge from Matt Kilgallon on Adam Lallana stopped the England man from breaking through in the box.

Whilst the Reds were attacking at one end, the Rovers fans at the other were marking the 20th minute with a gusto as they applauded and chanted Jack Waker's name to mark the 20th anniversary of Rovers winning the Premier League on Merseyside. Boss Gary Bowyer applauding the supporters for their efforts.

That seemed to spur Rovers on as their forceful play saw the hosts back-pedalling time and time again. Adam Henley clipped a ball forward to Tom Cairney saw him spread the ball to Craig Conway but Toure defended well.

Rovers came back once more through Conway, his centre having to be headed behind at the near post by Glen Johnson under pressure from Gestede.

Then from a Ben Marshall long throw Gestede again had the beating of the Liverpool defence, but Simon Mignolet claimed his on his line. Moments later Marshall again found Gestede with a ball in the box, the Benin international looked to strike on the volley, but Sterling, operating as a makeshift left-back, blocked the effort.

But the best chance of the half for Rovers came on 32 minutes. Another sweeping move saw Marshall lay the ball off to Cairney, Gestede dummied the pass to allow it to run to Conway, but the Scottish international fired over the bar from just inside the box.

A minute later the hosts did have the ball in the back of the net, but it was correctly chalked off for offside as substitute Toure had strayed as he fired home from Sturridge's flick.

It wasn't until injury-time at the end of the first half that Simon Eastwood was tested in the Rovers goal.

He easily claimed a shot from Lazar Markovic that deflected off Markus Olsson, but Sturridge posed more of a threat with a vicious left-footed strike that Eastwood did well to beat away.

Fired up by an impressive first half showing, Rovers were a whisker away from taking the lead just four minutes into the second half.

After good work to win a corner on the right, Conway sent the ball into the box, Baptiste, who has three goals to his name already this season, connected well with his header, but Mignolet pulled off a great save to tip over the bar.

It was a bright start from the blue and whites but slowly the hosts started to get more of the ball in Rovers' final third.

A 66th minute free-kick typified the effort the Rovers players were putting in. Sturridge saw his kick strike the wall, the ball ran out to Emre Can who shaped to shoot but Corry Evans brilliantly threw himself in front of the ball to block.

Mario Balotelli, on as a sub for Markovic, tried an audacious effort from distance but only found the Rovers fans. He did better with a forward ball to Sturridge, the England strike slamming a first-time effort wide of goal.

Cup hero from the earlier rounds, Chris Taylor added much needed fresh legs as he replaced Ben Marshall, and to their credit Rovers always carried an attacking threat.

The tireless Gestede looked for Cairney but Johnson had to defend well, whilst Henley, Conway and Cairney were always winning runners in the final third.

Liverpool huffed and puffed in the closing stages, Balotelli shot straight into the arms of the barely worked Eastwood, whilst Phillipe Coutinho only found the side-netting from a tight angle.

6000 Rovers fans worked as hard as the 11 on the field and when just the one additional minute was shown at the end of the 90, the cheer was almost the loudest of the afternoon.

The loudest came a minute later, as Andre Marriner blew the final whistle, to mean Rovers can look forward to fully deserved replay at Ewood next month.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Coutinho, Henderson (c), Sturridge, Lallana, Can, Sterling, Skrtel (sub Toure 11 mins), Markovic (sub Balotelli 59 mins).

Subs not used : Ward (GK), Lambert, Moreno, Sakho, Williams.

Goals: None.

Booked: Can.

ROVERS: Eastwood, Henley, Baptiste, Kilgallon (c), Olsson, Conway, Evans, Williamson, Marshall (sub Taylor 68 mins), Cairney, Gestede.

Subs not used: Steele (GK), Spurr, Brown, Rhodes, Henry, Lenihan.

Goals: None.

Booked: Cairney.

Attendance: 43,820 (including 5747 Rovers fans).

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