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Report: Bury 1 Rovers 1

28 July 2015

Rovers were given a stern test of their credentials by a strong Bury side in their final away match of this pre-season.

It was an entertaining encounter at Gigg Lane and another excellent workout, as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.

Rovers started strongly with Christian Walton denying John O'Sullivan and Nathan Delfouneso, before Lee Williamson was unfortunate to see an effort deflect onto the crossbar.

Despite that bright start it was the home side who took the lead on 26, Tom Pope firing home at the back post from Chris Hussey's free-kick.

Rovers eventually got their reward just past the hour mark when Craig Conway notched his third goal this pre-season. The Scot hitting a delightful shot from 25-yards that nestled in the bottom corner.

Both sides had opportunities in the closing stages, but neither goal was troubled further.

Next for Rovers is their final pre-season match with Wigan Athletic the visitors to Ewood Park on Saturday, before the big season kick-off at home to Wolves seven days later.

Rovers went into the match without a host of players as Jordan Rhodes, Rudy Gestede, Corry Evans, Chris Brown, Darragh Lenihan and Chris Taylor all remained sidelined, whilst new signings Fode Koita and Sacha Petshi didn't feature.

But Gary Bowyer was able to welcome back Ben Marshall after the attacker missed the match against Oldham Athletic through illness, whilst Nathan Delfouneso, goalscorer against the Latics at the weekend, was given another outing.

Delfouneso wasn't the only trialist on show as Rovers also named former Liverpool and Newcastle United midfielder Danny Guthrie amongst the substitutes, he would feature in the second half.

Rovers were strong starters with John O'Sullivan catching the eye early on. After a couple of menacing runs, the Irishman was the first to test goalkeeper Christian Walton, but the stopper saved his close-range shot well.

On a wet surface both sides were passing the ball round well when in possession, and whilst Bury looked a threat from set-pieces, it was Rovers with the better opportunities at goal.

On 22 minutes neat build-up play from the visitors saw Jason Lowe find Craig Conway, he teed up Marshall to strike from 20-yards, but Walton, who played against Rovers in the league last season for Brighton, got down to turn the shot aside.

A minute later Rovers would go even closer after excellent work from Marshall. The attacker skipped between two defenders to feed Lowe who played in Lee Williamson but his shot took a deflection and struck the crossbar.

The midfielder had broken his goalscoring duck against Rochdale seven days earlier and he was just the width of the bar from notching once more.

However just two minutes later it was the Shakers who did find the back of the net. A free-kick on the right was sent into the area by Chris Hussey and as the ball flashed across the six-yard box, striker Tom Pope, a summer arrival from Port Vale, arrived to prod home at the back post.

Unbowed Rovers went back on the attack and but for another impressive save from Walton they would have been level just three minutes later.

As Rovers attacked down the right O'Sullivan fed Adam Henley on the overlap to sweep a low cross into the box,  Delfouneso struck first time from the penalty spot but the Bury keeper somehow turned the shot aside.

David Raya, who had had very little to do in the first half, then saved low to keep out a Leon Clarke shot after the striker had gotten the better of Shane Duffy. But it was Duffy who should have made the scoreline level at the break, but from a whipped Conway free-kick the defender somehow failed to get a meaningful connection in front of goal.

Rovers introduced trialist Guthrie and the impressive 17-year-old Willem Tomlinson at the break, with Lowe and O'Sullivan making way, but it was the hosts who thought they should have had a second goal just five minutes into the second half.

After Tommy Spurr was adjudged to have handled a cross outside the area, Hussey was again on free-kick duty and again it was impressively struck. As Rovers failed to clear their lines Leon Clarke pounced but Raya saved on the goalline.

The former Wolves man appealed that the ball had crossed the line but the officials were unmoved.

At the other end a fine pass from Marshall sent Delfouneso charging towards goal but his shot was well blocked by Hussey, but it would be less than sixty seconds later that they'd be celebrating a goal their attacking intent deserved.

As had been shown throughout the match, Rovers displayed neat approach play as the ball was worked to Conway 25-yards out, the Scot cut inside from the left took a couple of touches before taking aim, sending a lovely shot into the bottom corner beyond Walton's despairing dive.

So often known for his assists, it was Conway's third goal this pre-season.

Rovers were then relient on Tommy Spurr to ensure the scoreline remained 1-1 as the defender made a pair of key interceptions.

A Bury attack on the break saw Leon Clarke find substitute Danny Rose, but Spurr did well to block the shot.

Then as Duffy sold David Raya short with a back pass, Spurr was on hand to head away Clarke's centre with Rose threatening once more.

But it was from the left boot of Chris Hussey that the Shakers had the most joy. The full back's delivery from set-pieces were a cause of consternation all night, Clarke again going close, Raya needing to smother the ball.

12 minutes from time a third change from Rovers was warmly received by both sets of fans as Anton Forrester replaced Delfouneso. The forward enjoyed a loan spell at Gigg Lane two seasons ago before it was cruelly cut short with a serious knee injury.

The closing stages saw Conway flash an effort a couple of yards wide of goal, before Marshall saw shouts for a penalty waved away as the game ended all square.

Saturday sees the Rovers return to Ewood with Wigan Athletic the visitors in their final pre-season friendly.

BURY: Walton, Riley, Hussey, P. Clarke, Hope, L. Clarke, Pope (sub Rose 66 mins), Jones (sub Sedgwick 70 mins), Soares, Pugh, Cameron (c).

Subs not used: Burgess, Lainton.

Goals: Pope 26 mins.

Booked: None.

ROVERS: Raya, Henley, Spurr, Lowe (sub Guthrie 46 mins), Hanley (c), Duffy, O'Sullivan (sub Tomlinson 46 mins), Delfouneso (sub Forrester 78), Marshall, Conway, Williamson.

Subs not used: Mahoney, Nyambe, Steele, Kilgallon.

Goals: Conway 65 mins.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 1696 (including 522 Rovers fans)

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