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Best returns as Anton bags brace

18 February 2013

Leon Best made a welcome return on Monday evening as Rovers Reserves defeated Sunderland 2-1 at Leigh Sports Village.

The £3m summer signing had been out of action since pre-season with a cruciate knee ligament injury but played 67 minutes as a brace from Anton Forrester saw Gary Bowyer's side come from behind to defeat the Black Cats.

The match also saw Dickson Etuhu and Adam Henley also return after injury, the pair playing just over an hour as the Reserves made it back-to-back victories.

Rovers may have had the stronger of the two sides but it the visitors Sunderland who took the lead at Leigh after just six minutes.

A clumsy foul by John O'Sullivan saw Sunderland take full advantage as Jordan Laidler's 20-yard free-kick found the back of the net courtesy of a deflection to wrong-foot Grzegorz Sandomierski in the Rovers goal.

That lead should have been doubled on 17 minutes but Alex Gottin slammed Mitchell's centre the wrong side of the upright.

Rovers' first attack of note stemmed from Leon Best striding forward, he found Fabio Nunes cutting in from the left but the Portuguese youngster fired high over the bar.

A hard-working first-half from Best yielded a goalscoring opportunity on 38 minutes but the returning striker saw his shot blocked.

Rovers had struggled to carve out too many chances but they drew level on 40 minutes. A Will Beesley ball forward was missed by Scott Harrison and Anton Forrester took full advantage to race through before firing low past Pickford.

Just past the hour mark Dickson Etuhu and Adam Henley were replaced by Hugo Fernandez and Peter Wylie respectively. The 63 minutes serving them well in their bid to return to full fitness.

Five minutes later it was Leon Best's turn to depart, the striker receiving warm applause from the Leigh crowd on his return to action.

Mandron went close for Sunderland on 71 minutes when he headed a Liam Marrs cross wide of goal, whilst a shot from Josh Morris was only a yard wide after he cut in from the right.

Five minutes from time Rovers grabbed their second of the game and it was Anton Forrester once more. The former Everton youngster finding space in the area to head home a Fabio Nunes cross from close-range for his fourth goal in two outings.

Sunderland pressed for a way back in the closing stages but Craig Lynch fired over when well placed on the edge of the box.

"I'm delight with the performance, especially in the second half," said Reserve team boss Gary Bowyer.

"We started slowly and conceded the goal which was poor from us, but our response was pleasing and we told them that in the dressing room.

"Leon, Dickson and Adam were class tonight, the way they went about it was excellent, their attitude was spot on.

" I thought Leon's movement was good, the timing of his headers was excellent. We just have to be patient and don't be expecting too much too soon but from a starting point it was magnificent. To get over an our is a credit to him."

Rovers: Sandomierski, Henley (sub Wylie 62 mins), Beesley, Etuhu (sub Fernandez 63 mins), Edwards (c), Daly, Morris, O'Sullivan, Forrester, Best (sub Maclaren 67 mins), Fabio Nunes.

Subs not used: Urwin, Cotton.

Goals: Forrester 40, 85 mins.

Booked: O'Sullivan.

Sunderland: Pickford, Marrs (c), Ferguson, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Gorrin, Mandron, Lynch, Honeyman (sub Noble 70 mins).

Subs not used: Wilson, Joyce, Smith.

Goals: Laidler 6 mins.

Booked: Laidler.

Attendance: 237

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