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Rovers u21s 4 West Ham u21s 3

15 September 2015

Connor Mahoney scored a brilliant late brace, as Rovers Under-21s came from behind three times to beat West Ham 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at Ewood Park.

Following on from his fine double in the dramatic Lancashire Senior Cup victory over Barrow six days ago, the 18-year-old winger was at it again as Rovers recorded their first league victory of the new season.

They were made to work hard for it, as the Hammers led on three separate occasions under the Ewood lights.

Full-back Kyle Knoyle opened the scoring on 10 minutes with a stunning strike from the corner of the area, before Devarn Green raced away to draw Rovers level.

The visitors led at the break through Djair Parfitt-Williams' deflected strike, but Rovers were back on level terms 10 minutes into the second half thanks to Anton Forrester's fine finish.

West Ham regained the lead again on 64 minutes through Josh Cullen's fantastic free-kick, but Mahoney levelled things up on 79 minutes with a stunning set-piece of his own.

And there was still time for the local lad to bag the winner, as, with just seven minutes remaining, his superb solo goal sent the Rovers players, staff and supporters into raptures.

Before the game, Damien Johnson was able to call upon the services of several senior stars, with the likes of Sacha Petshi, Darragh Lenihan and Simon Eastwood all getting useful run-outs.

And it was the experienced Rovers keeper who was called into action early on. On six minutes, Elliot Lee wriggled his way past a couple of players into the box, but Eastwood came out to make a fine save and Jack Doyle completed the clearance.

However, Eastwood was powerless to prevent the Hammers from opening the scoring on 10 minutes, as Lee played the ball out right to Knoyle, who got the better of Modou Cham, before firing an unstoppable shot into the far top-left corner of Eastwood's net.

Ten minutes later and the scores were all-square. Forrester's flick-on sent Green running into space and after out-pacing former Rovers defender Doneil Henry, he rolled a left-foot shot past Tim Brown and in off the far post.

In truth, it was the visitors who carried the greater threat going forward in the first half, as Lee's free-kick deflected behind off the Rovers wall and from the resulting corner, Emmanuel Onariase headed over in the middle.

On the half-hour mark, Marcus Browne tried his luck from long range, but he dragged his shot well wide.

However, the visitors did double their tally just a couple of minutes later, as Parfitt-Williams' strike from the edge of the area took a big deflection on its way into the top right-hand corner.

Henry's 'Rovers return' was cut short, as he didn't reappear after the interval, but the visitors did register the first chance of the second half, as Browne broke down the right, before pulling the ball back from the byline, but Lee skied his shot over the bar from 12 yards out.

Rovers responded well with a flurry of chances and it was only a matter of time before they were back on level terms.

From a Mahoney corner, Lenihan attacked it with a diving header, but Brown made a smart save low to his left.

Petshi then cut in from the left and let fly from the edge of the area, but his crisp strike fizzed just past the post.

The equaliser did arrive on 55 minutes. Cham's corner from the right dropped to Forrester, who took a touch before firing a fantastic shot on the turn into the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the box.

A minute later and following Cham's surging run, Forrester took over and from almost a carbon copy position, his strike deflected just wide of the post. Mahoney took the corner, Lenihan again met it in the middle, but his header was off target.

The chances continued to fall Rovers' way, as, just before the hour mark, Cham fired a free-kick up and over the wall, but Brown made the save, diving to his right.

But against the run of play, West Ham regained the lead for the third time through a set-piece of their own, as Cullen curled a sublime free-kick into the top left-hand corner.

Rovers again responded well. On 70 miniutes, another Mahoney corner from the left was met by Lenihan, who headed over the bar.

Willem Tomlinson then replaced Petshi in midfield and the substitution had the desired effect. On 79 minutes, Tomlinson earned Rovers a free-kick 25 yards out and Mahoney bent a beautiful effort around the wall and into the bottom corner.

Mahoney almost scored a superb second moments later, as Scott Wharton battled to win the ball in the middle, before it was played out wide to Mahoney, who fired a fine strike inches past the far post.

But just a minute later and the England youth international was celebrating his second - and his fourth in the space of a wonderful week. After beating his man in the box, Mahoney rifled a stunning strike from an acute angle into the far top corner with his 'weaker' right foot!

It really was a goal worthy of winning any game.

ROVERS: Eastwood, Nyambe, Wharton, Lenihan, Doyle, Cham, Carson (c), Petshi (Tomlinson 72), Mahoney, Green, Forrester.

Subs not used: Crump, Lavelle, Thomson, Rittenberg.

Goals: Green (20), Forrester (55), Mahoney (79, 83)

Booked: Green (90+4)

WEST HAM: T. Brown, Knoyle, Hendrie, Dobson, Henry (Pask 46), Onariase, Samuelsen, Cullen (c), Lee, Browne (Nasha 71), Parfitt-Williams.

Subs: Boness, J. Brown, Diangana.

Goals: Knoyle (10), Parfitt-Williams (32), Cullen (64)

Attendance: 220

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