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Match Reports

PL2: Rovers 3 Wolves 2

26 September 2016

Rovers development squad showed tremendous battling qualities to defeat Wolves 3-2 in a dramatic Premier League 2 clash at Lancs FA.

The home side roared into a two-goal lead thanks to a strike from Lewis Hardcastle and a penalty from Anthony Stokes, but two goals in as many second half minutes saw Wolves draw level.

It then got worse for Rovers when they were reduced to ten men when Stokes was inexplicably shown a second yellow card.

But Damien Johnson's youngsters roared back to claim the victory thanks to a wonderful goal from Lewis Mansell. The forward showing great strength and determination to hold off his marker to lob the keeper and secure the points.

Under the lights at Leyland the match was slow to get going, with little in the way of goalmouth action until Rovers took the lead on 26 minutes.

After good work from Joe Rankin-Costello resulted in the midfielder being fouled just outside the area, Stokes hit the resulting free-kick into the wall, however as the ball came back out it was smashed into the top corner by Hardcastle via a deflection.

Ten minutes later and the Rovers lead was doubled from the penalty spot. A surging run from Ryan Nyambe saw the defender tripped in the area. Stokes making no mistake from 12-yards.

The Rovers youngsters were showing a tremendous work-rate, giving the opposition very little time when in possession and the almost got their reward of a third on the stroke of half-time when Jack Doyle crossed from the left. But the ball was an inch too high for Mansell to direct his header goalwards and although Hardcastle put the ball back into the mix, no-one in a blue and white shirt could force the ball home.

But as good as Rovers were in the first half, they couldn't repeat that early in the second with the visitors taking full advantage.

Only three key saves from Andy Fisher kept Wolves from opening their account before they did, but the young goalkeeper was powerless to stop visiting captain Connor Ronan from scoring from the spot after Matty Platt had fouled Ennis.

Three minutes later Wolves were back on level terms as play down the right resulted in Bright Enobakhare forcing the ball home high at the near post.

With both sides having everything to play for, the game suddenly became a bad-tempered and fractious affair, and certainly not helped by increasingly questionable decisions by the referee.

Stokes was booked for dissent after a clash with Aaron Simpson, before the Wolves defender then clattered into the Rovers man from behind. The referee quickly brandished a yellow followed by a red much to the amazement of everyone. Wolves coach Scott Sellars even thought it was his man who had been sent off, but it was Stokes who was instructed to leave the field.

But despite that setback Rovers roared back and regained the lead in tremendous fashion on 74 minutes.

Battling hard for the ball in midfield Willem Tomlinson sent a wonderfully timed pass forward, Mansell plucked it out of the air and although he was hauled to the ground in the area, the young forward still managed to clip the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net for his third of the season.

Fisher was quickly called upon to keep Wolves at bay once more, a corner from the left picked out Christian Herc, unmarked he headed goalwards but the Rovers keeper made a fantastic one-handed save.

That would be as close as Wolves would come to grabbing a late equaliser as Johnson's side, urged on by the watching Owen Coyle, saw the remaining minutes out to clinch a third Premier League 2 win this season.

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Doyle, Tomlinson, Platt, Wharton (c), Mahoney (sub Grayson 46 mins), Hardcastle, Stokes, Mansell, Rankin-Costello.

Subs not used: Travis, Ascroft (GK), Howarth, Magloire.

Goals: Hardcastle 26 mins, Stokes (pen) 36 mins, Mansell 73 mins.

Booked: Stokes 66 mins, Fisher 90+1 mins.

Off: Stokes 68 mins.

WOLVES: Burgoyne, Simpson, Deslandes, Herc, Johnson, Leak, Wilson, Ronan (c), Ennis (sub Finnie 73 mins), Enobakhare, Randall (sub Delacoe 79 mins).

Subs not used: Upton, Odoffin, McKenna.

Goals: Ronan (pen) 59 mins, Enobakhare 62 mins

Booked: Simpson 68 mins, Leak 88 mins.

Attendance: 204.

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