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Development Squad

PL2 Report: Rovers 3 Fulham 2

18 April 2017

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Rovers' development squad have given themselves a great chance of reaching the end of season promotion play-offs after coming from behind to defeat Fulham 3-2 on Monday night.

Both sides went into the match looking for points to aid their quest for promotion, but it was the Rovers who ended on the winning side on a dramatic night at the County Ground.

Fulham were dominant throughout the first half but it wasn't until the second that they opened the scoring when George Williams latched onto a high ball forward to score.

But Rovers' response was emphatic with Lewis Mansell firing the hosts level just three minutes later, before Joe Grayson forced home Lewis Hardcastle's in-swinging corner.

It got better for the Blues soon after when Willem Tomlinson got on the scoresheet to make it 3-1 and although Williams grabbed his second of the match deep into stoppage time at the end of the match it would prove to be mere consolation.

The victory sees Rovers move into the final play-off spot, they know that victory over Aston Villa next Monday will see them extend their season further.

It was a youthful Rovers side that took to the field at the County Ground with just Stephen Hendrie and Willem Tomlinson with any first team outings.

But whilst the visitors were similarly inexperienced, it was they with the early pressure as forwards Elijah Adebayo and George Williams combined in the area inside six minutes, but the offside flag was raised just as Williams slotted home.

Then a ball across the six-yard box by Mattias Kait was a touch behind Adebayo, but whilst the young Fulham striker improvised brilliantly with a back-heel, Andy Fisher in the Rovers goal was alert to clear the danger with his legs.

With Rovers struggling to gain any momentum going forward, Fulham continued to force the pace. Adebayo saw a close-range shot deflect wide, before the home side needed timely blocks from Fisher and Tomlinson to keep them at bay.

A nice touch on the run from Adetayo Edun saw the Fulham defender race into the box, but his effort flashed just past the far post, another chance fell Adebayo's way, but he snatched at a chance in front of goal and fired wide.

It wasn't until the final ten minutes of the half that Damien Johnson's side finally started to pose any threat.

Good play on the right from Lewis Mansell saw him tee up Daniel Butterworth, but from 12 yards out his left-footed shot deflected wide.

Then in added-time at the end of the first half Hendrie struck a wonderful effort on the half-volley but Fulham keeper Magnus Norman got fingertips to the ball to push it over the crossbar.

Joe Rankin-Costello glanced an early chance at the start of the second half just past the post, but it was Fulham who drew first blood soon afterwards.

Half-time substitute Jerome Opoku hit a simple ball over the top to where Williams raced in on goal and he fired past Fisher to give the visitors a 53rd minute lead.

But their advantage would last just three minutes as Rovers hit back straight away.

Good pressure from the Blues saw Tomlinson pick out the run of Hendrie on the left and his low centre was side-footed high into the net by Mansell.

Hendrie fired narrowly over for Rovers, before Fisher kept out Fulham's Kait with a near-post save. But after Daniel Butterworth saw a 68th minute shot deflect behind, the Rovers would score from the resulting corner.

Lewis Hardcastle sent the ball over from the left, and although the initial effort was kept out, Grayson forced home the rebound.

Having turned the match around, Rovers continued with their much improved second half showing and made it 3-1 just eight minutes later,

Attacking well down the right Connor Thomson had the beating of his man and his ball into the box was lashed home by Tomlinson.

Rovers could have added further goals to their tally in the final ten minutes. Tyler Magloire volleyed narrowly over the angle from a corner kick, before another flowing move from the the home side saw Thomson cross from Butterworth but he smashed the ball just over.

In the closing stages Magloire made a goal saving block to keep out a goalbound effort from Kait.

It would prove to be an important stop as the visitors netted a second five minutes into added time. Harris with a shot that was well kept out by Fisher, but Williams was on hand to tap home his second of the match.

But Rovers saw out the remaining minutes without any further concerns to record an impressive home victory to set things up nicely for their final league game against Aston Villa next Monday at Ewood.

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Hendrie, Tomlinson, Magloire, Grayson, Thomson, Hardcastle (c), Mansell, Butterworth (sub Mols 89 mins), Rankin-Costello.

Subs not used: C. Doyle, Powell, Wright, Thompson.

Goals: Mansell 56 mins, Grayson 68 mins, Tomlinson 76 mins.

Booked: Hardcastle 30 mins, Tomlinson 65 mins.

FULHAM: Norman, Sheckleford, Edun, Smile (sub O'Riley 36 mins), Davies (sub Opoku 46 mins), Jenz, de la Torre, Kait, Adebayo, Williams, Thorsteinsson.

Subs not used: Ashby-Hammond, Harris, Elstone.

Goals: Williams 53, 90+5 mins.

Booked: Harris 86 mins, Opoku 90+3 mins, Edun 90+6 mins.

Attendance: 181

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