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Report: Rovers 1 Girona 1

30 July 2016

A second pre-season goal from Ben Marshall saw Rovers earn a 1-1 draw with Girona.

Fresh from his strike against Blackpool seven days ago, the midfielder fired the home side in front on 27 minutes with a sweet drive following a fine jinking run.

But the lead would last a little over 60 seconds as the visitors hit back straight away. Samuelle Longo applying the finishing touch at the back post after a corner had been flicked on.

Only two fantastic second half saves from Girona keeper Rene stopped Rovers from recording  victory on home soil. The Spaniard first kept out a fierce effort from Shane Duffy, before getting fingertips to Darragh Lenihan's perfectly placed strike.

Duffy then saw a goal ruled out for offside, and although Girona pressed the home side back in the closing stages, Jason Steele dealt with everything that came his way.

Rovers finish their summer programme this Sunday away at Notts County, before the Sky Bet Championship returns next Saturday with Norwich City the visitors to Ewood.

For the penultimate pre-season friendly, boss Owen Coyle named a strong starting XI for the visit of Girona.

Jason Steele started in goal, behind a back four of Jason Lowe, Shane Duffy, Elliott Ward and Adam Henley.

Liam Feeney and Elliott Bennett offered width in midfield, with Jack Byrne, Hope Akpan and Ben Marshall in the centre, Danny Graham up front.

It was the visitors with the first effort of note after eight minutes, with Pere Pons trying his luck from 25-yards after collecting a lay-off from Portu. But the Girona captain was well off target with his strike.

A sweeping cross-field pass from Marshall saw Lowe race down the flank, his first-time cross was claimed out of the sky by Rene in the Girona goal just as Danny Graham was ready to pounce.

On 14 a clearance from Rene went straight to Marshall who immediately fired goalwards, but the ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The deadlock was broken just past the midway point of the half with a piece of brilliance from Marshall. Collecting a pass round the corner from Bennett, the midfielder raced unopposed towards goal before finding the bottom left corner of the goal with a smart shot from the edge of the box. His second goal this pre-season.

However Rovers' lead would last barely 90 seconds as the visitors hit straight back.

A corner from the right was sent into the box and as the ball skimmed off the head of Lowe, Samuelle Longo hooked the ball into the back of the net.

Girona almost grabbed the lead on 32 minutes thanks to a great cross from Javi Alamo, but goalscorer Longo couldn't direct his header on target. Then a great through ball set Portu away but whilst his shot beat Steele, it crept wide of the far post.

Danny Graham, who has found the back of the net three times this pre-season, went close to adding to his goal tally ten minutes before the break when he controlled a centre from Adam Henley, but his shot deflected just past the post.

The resumption of play after the half-time break saw Rovers make three changes as Darragh Lenihan, Stephen Hendrie and Anthony Stokes replaced Byrne, Lowe and Feeney. The visitors made nine outfield changes.

Like the first half the second was slow to get going, but Rovers went close to regaining the lead with two excellent efforts.

A corner from the left was cleared only as far as Duffy and he hit a stinging shot that Rene did well to thrust a hand out to stop the effort.

But the Girona keeper then topped that save with an outstanding one moments later as from the resulting corner, Lenihan curled a left-footed shot goalwards. It seemed destined for the top corner but Rene somehow got fingertips to the Irishman's effort.

Trialist Gordon Greer replaced Ward just past the hour mark, but it was Steele who was called into action to keep out a low shot from Christian Herrera, before he comfortably collected a deflected free-kick from Ruben Alcaraz.

Shane Duffy had the ball in the net for Rovers from a Marshall free-kick. But he was flagged offside as the Girona defence raced out en masse.

Both sides continued to make changes as Danny Guthrie and Connor Mahoney were introduced for Rovers, but it was the visitors who posed the greater threat in the closing stages.

Girona substitute Eloi Amagat, twice went close. First he saw a shot blocked by Hendrie, before he dragged a further chance wide. Then fellow sub Herrera saw a drive claimed by the Rovers keeper.

Rovers end their pre-season programme on Sunday when they take on Notts County at Meadow Lane, before next week's big kick-off at Ewood Park against Norwich City.

ROVERS: Steele, Lowe (c) (sub Hendrie 46 mins), Duffy, Ward (sub Greer 62 mins), Henley, Feeney (sub Stokes 46 mins), Akpan (sub Guthrie 70 mins), Byrne (sub Lenihan 46 mins), Bennett (sub Mahoney 76 mins), Marshall, Graham.

Subs not used: Raya (GK), El Bakhtaoui, O'Sullivan, Wharton.

Goal: Marshall 27 mins.

GIRONA: Rene R, Alcala, Granell, Pere Pons (c), Portu, Aday, Longo, Juanpe R, F. Sandaza, K. Olivas, Javi Alamo.

Subs: Bounou (GK), Sebas, Ramalho, Eloi Amagat, R. Alcaraz, Christian H., Vivancos, Felipe A. J., Cifuentes, Lekic, S. Alamo, Manel.

Goal: Longo 29 mins. 

Attendance: 2131.

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