A youthful Rovers Under-23s side kicked off their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 victory over Clitheroe at Shawbridge.
After Jordan Eastham pulled off a sensational penalty save, goals either side of the break from Stefan Mols and Jack Vale secured the win.
With a host of Rovers’ regular Under-23s featuring in the first team games against Macclesfield and Mansfield 24 hours earlier, the visitors fielded a young starting line-up, with only Brad Lyons, Louie Annesley and Mols providing some experience.
Rovers made a bright start, with Chanka Zimba denied by the Clitheroe keeper inside 30 seconds, before again seeing a shot saved on nine minutes. Luke Brennan then played in Lyons, who slid his shot just wide of the post.
The hosts were handed the opportunity to open the scoring just before the half-hour mark when the referee awarded a very soft penalty for a foul on Elliot Pond, but justice was served when Eastham made a superb save to keep out the striker’s spot-kick.
Substitute Sam Burns then fired over from 25 yards, before Rovers broke the deadlock in spectacular style on 42 minutes, as Zimba’s cross looped into the air and Mols fired an unstoppable overhead kick past the Clitheroe keeper.
Less than two minutes after the restart and Rovers doubled their lead with another well-taken finish.
A corner from the left was flicked on by Annesley and Vale volleyed the ball into the top corner with virtually his first touch.
Clitheroe came close to pulling one back moments later when Jordan Darr fired just wide of the far post.Chances were few and far between thereafter, until Sam Durrant almost added a third in the 90th minute, but he just couldn’t stretch far enough to connect with James Connolly’s centre.
After the game, Head of Academy Coaching Tony Carss said: “It was a really good and worthwhile exercise, especially for the younger lads to play against senior opposition, which isn’t something they get to experience very often.“
"It was tough game physically. I think we had some good bits of play and created some good chances, but then different parts of the game were more of a challenge for us.
“We could have been better in the final third, but overall it was very pleasing – a couple of goals, a clean sheet, we could have scored more and everyone has come through it with some more fitness in their legs.”
Rovers: Eastham, Jackson (Boyomo 46), Whitehall, Annesley, Pike, Durrant (Burns 33), Lyons (Saadi 61), Saadi (Connolly 33), Brennan (Garrett 63), Mols (Durrant 61), Zimba (Vale 46).