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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 1 Norwich City 4

Rovers suffer opening day defeat

6 August 2016

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Rovers started the new season in disappointing fashion as they slumped to a 4-1 home defeat by Norwich City.

The visitors showed no signs of a Premier League hangover as they raced into a three-goal half-time lead as Jacob Murphy, Wes Hoolahan and Cameron Jerome all found the back of the net.
Steven Naismith added a fourth for the Canaries early in the second half, and although Anthony Stokes gave the home fans some cheer with his first goal for his new club, it proved to be mere consolation.
Owen Coyle handed two players their 'second debuts' for the opening match of the 2016-17 season.
Summer signings Liam Feeney and Danny Graham both started the match against the Canaries, whilst fellow new boys Gordon Greer, Jack Byrne, Anthony Stokes and Stephen Hendrie were all named amongst the subs.
It was a cagey opening in the Lancashire sunshine, but once the visitors got their noses in front they took full control of the match.
On 12 minutes Ben Marshall was caught in possession by Alex Tettey, and as Murphy escaped the clutches of Adam Henley, the Norwich man slammed an unstoppable 20-yard strike into the top corner.
Five minutes later and the Canaries' advantage was doubled. A neat passage of play saw the visitors work the ball to Hoolahan and he fired low beyond Jason Steele.
Rovers were then forced into a change with Elliott Ward unable to continue. Gordon Greer on as his replacement.
But the former Brighton man could only watch on as Norwich added a third soon afterwards. Murphy's ball in from the right was allowed to travel across the six-yard box to where Jerome somehow squeezed it home at the back post to leave Rovers with plenty to do.
Struggling to get a foothold in the game, Rovers rarely threatened in the final third in the first half. An Elliott Bennett cross that eluded everyone in blue and white the closest John Ruddy's goal came to be breached.
Anthony Stokes was introduced at the start of the second half, replacing Bennett who had been carded in the first half. That meant a move out to the left for Marshall, with Stokes slotting in alongside Danny Graham.
The second period was slow to get going as the Norwich physio saw more involvement than most, but despite the stop-start nature, it was still the visitors carrying the greater threat. Murphy going close to grabbing his second of the game when his shot went through the legs of Steele, the Rovers keeper fortunate to see the ball come back off the post.
But the former Premier League side's quality was there for all to see when a fourth goal duly arrived on 58 minutes.
More intricate passing from the side in yellow had Rovers at sixes and sevens, Hoolahan threading the ball through to Naismith who finished well.
The Rovers faithful were finally given something to cheer about when the home side pulled a goal back on 67 minutes.
Feeney with a cross from the right and Stokes rose highest to head back across goal and beyond Ruddy for his first goal in Rovers colours.
Graham mis-kicked in front of goal moments later, before Stokes forced Ruddy into making a low save. But as the ball ran free, Shane Duffy was unable to force home the rebound.
Rovers forced a series of corners in the closing stages, Darragh Lenihan nodding one over, whilst the lively Stokes forced the Norwich keeper into palming a dangerous centre behind.
It was an encouraging end to the game, but the damage had been done much much earlier.
ROVERS: Steele, Lowe (c), Duffy, Ward (sub Greer 21), Henley, Akpan (sub Byrne 63 mins), Lenihan, Feeney, Marshall, Bennett (sub Stokes 46 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Hendrie, Guthrie, Conway.
Goals: Stokes 67 mins.
Booked: Bennett 16 mins, Greer 76 mins.
NORWICH: Ruddy, Olsson (sub Whittaker 53 mins), Naismith, Howson (c) (sub Mulumbu 76 mins), Jerome, Hoolahan (sub Pritchard 80 mins), Klose, Jacob Murphy, Bennett, Pinto, Tettey.
Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Bassong, Lafferty, Josh Murphy.
Goals: Jacob Murphy 12 mins, Hoolahan 17 mins, Jerome 25 mins, Naismith 58 mins.
Booked: Jerome 69 mins, Mulumbu 80 mins.
Attendance: 12,641 (Including 1535 visiting supporters)

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