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PL2 Report: Rovers 0 Newcastle Utd 2

28 November 2016

Rovers' Under-23s were on the end of a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Newcastle United on Monday evening.

In a close encounter at a chilly Lancs FA, Leyland, it was two second half goals from the visitors that earned them all three points.

Stuart Findlay headed Newcastle in front on 55 minutes after Adam Henley had cleared his first effort of the line, and although the Rovers had opportunities, it was the Magpies who took theirs as Callum Roberts grabbed a second six minutes from time to secure the win.

In contrast to previous Premier League 2 encounters, Damien Johnson was able to call on the services of several first team players for the match against the Magpies and two of those would have early opportunities at the County Ground.

Adam Henley, Wes Brown, Anthony Stokes and Jack Byrne all started for the development squad, and it was Byrne with a sight of goal after three minutes but Newcastle stopper Freddie Woodman made a comfortable save.

Then after Lewis Hardcastle had been pulled to the ground, Stokes took the resulting free-kick, but the Irishman's effort struck the wall.

The visitors responded with a chance made by defender Liam Gibson, racing down the left he centred for Luke Charman but Andy Fisher made a close-range stop.

Connor Mahoney then forced a fine save from Woodman, but Byrne was denied on the follow-up by an excellent block from Curtis Good.

Rovers continued to enjoy the better of the chances as Woodman saved from Byrne once more, but they needed a smart save from Fisher at the end of the first half to ensure the score remained goalless as he kept out a 20-yard strike from the lively Gibson.

The second half saw Newcastle start the stronger of the two sides, and after Yasin Ben Em-Mahanni and Charman had both gone close, the Magpies broke the deadlock on 55 minutes.

A corner from the left was headed goalwards by Findlay and although Henley did brilliantly to clear off the line via the underside of the crossbar, the Newcastle central defender had too much time and space to force home the rebound.

That prompted a bright spell of play from the home side but they never really created any clear-cut openings.

A break from midfield saw Joe Rankin-Costello with sight of goal, but his attempted lob flew high over the goal. Then a lovely flowing move saw Hardcastle tee up Mahoney, but his left-footed effort flashed wide.

Rovers continued to press and probe, Byrne saw a shot turned aside by Woodman, Stokes wide with a shot on the turn from the resulting corner kick.

But any chance of an equaliser ended when Newcastle added a second goal six minutes from time. Substitute Adam Wilson finding Roberts inside and the midfielder curled the ball beyond Fisher.

Rovers pressed until the end, Stokes striking the woodwork as his shot beat Woodman, but as sub Lewis Mansell put the rebound in the back of the net the flag was raised for offside.

"Obviously we are disappointed with the result," said development squad boss Damien Johnson.

"In terms of the performance, between the boxes we were good, it was just that final third where we were poor in terms of our final cross, too many times it was in the keeper's hands or it struck the first man. And that is the last little bit that is important.

"We started the second half poorly and it was disappointing to concede from a set-piece, there was some good play from us but the goals were disappointing.

"When we needed that little bit of quality at the end we just didn't have it."

ROVERS: Fisher, Henley (sub Tomlinson 57 mins), Doyle, Travis, Platt (c), Brown, Mahoney, Hardcastle (sub Mansell 76 mins), Stokes, Byrne, Rankin-Costello (sub Thomson 80 mins).

Subs not used: Magloire, Powell (GK).

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

NEWCASTLE: Woodman, Williams, Gibson, Hunter (c), Good, Findlay, Roberts, Barlaser, Charman (sub Heardman 72 mins), Ward (sub Satka 88 mins), Ben El-Mhanni (sub Wilson 65 mins).

Subs not used: Newberry, Harker (GK).

Goals: Findlay 55 mins, Roberts 84 mins.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 269

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