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Match Reports

Rovers 1 Stoke City u21 0

Joe Nuttall's debut goal seals the victory.

29 August 2017

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Joe Nuttall came off the bench to score the winner on his debut, as Rovers kicked off their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a 1-0 victory over Stoke City Under-21s at Ewood Park.

The 20-year-old hot-shot, who has started the season in fine form with six goals in three games for Rovers' Under-23s, prodded home the only goal of the game on 77 minutes.

Up until that point, there had been little in the way of clear-cut chances created by either side.

The lively Harry Chapman, who provided the assist for the goal, saw a well-struck shot saved in the first half, whilst Lewis Travis had a couple of penalty claims waved away.

Charlie Adam looked the most likely to make something happen for the visitors, who were restricted to a host of hopeful strikes from distance throughout, including a stoppage-time free-kick which flashed just past the post.

Ahead of the game, manager Tony Mowbray opted for a mix of youth and experience, as he made 10 changes to the team that defeated MK Dons 4-1 at the weekend.

Derrick Williams, who opened the scoring against the Dons, was the only survivor from Saturday's side and he was given the captain's armband.

Academy graduates Andy Fisher and Travis were handed their Rovers debuts, whilst Willem Tomlinson and Jack Doyle made their first starts.

Danny Graham, Peter Whittingham, Liam Feeney, Ben Gladwin, Ryan Nyambe and Chapman were also brought into the starting line-up, with Craig Conway, Elliott Ward and Paul Caddis given the evening off.

For the visitors, former Rovers youngster Tre Pemberton, who joined Stoke in the summer, started against his old club.

Stoke started well and had the game's first chance inside three minutes. Adam delivered a corner from the left, Scott Wara headed goalwards and Tyrese Campbell flicked the ball just the wrong side of the post.

A minute later, Chapman went on a superb solo run, past about six Stoke players, only to be denied by a last-ditch challenge, which saw the ball go behind for a corner.

Rovers' first effort at goal arrived on eight minutes, as Whittingham delivered a corner to the back post and Graham headed down, but Jakob Haugaard made a routine save.

On 17 minutes, Adam saw a shot from the edge of the area comfortably saved by Fisher, then moments later, Travis played in Chapman, who created space for a shot, but his powerful drive was straight at Haugaard.

Rovers had penalty appeals waved away at the midway point in the half, as Travis played a one-two with Feeney, before bursting into the box, but Cameron McJannet made a perfectly-timed tackle.

With the game in need of a spark, Adam tried to provide it with a shot from halfway, but Fisher was well positioned to make the save.

Rovers were dealt a blow on 38 minutes when Williams limped off, to be replaced by debutant Platt. The enforced changed meant that Rovers' goalkeeper and back four were all Academy graduates.

As the half drew to a close, Tomlinson tried his luck from long range, but his crisp strike fizzed just over the bar, before Travis again went to ground in the box, this time under a challenge from Adam, but again the referee ignored the appeals.

On the stroke of half-time, Oliver Shenton picked up possession and advanced forward, before drilling a shot just past the post.

Rovers made a second change at the break, with Richie Smallwood coming on for Nyambe at centre-back, with Graham taking the armband.

The hosts created an opportunity right at the start of the second half, but after robbing Adam of possession, Chapman blazed horribly high and wide.

Stoke replied with an effort of their own, as Adam surged past several Rovers players through the centre, before firing just wide of the bottom corner.

The visitors' best chance of the game arrived just past the hour mark. From a free-kick from the left, Mark Waddington couldn't direct his header on target, Shenton drilled the ball into the six-yard box and Harry Souttar's close-range touch deflected the ball straight at Fisher.

Rovers made their third and final change on 64 minutes, with Nuttall coming on for his debut in place of Gladwin and he was immediately involved, latching onto a ball over the top, before the chance was snuffed out by the Stoke defence.

On 67 minutes, Daniel Jarvis forced a superb fingertip save from Fisher, to tip over his 25-yard strike, before Rovers finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes later.

Chapman threaded a perfectly-weighted ball through and Nuttall won the race to poke the ball past the advancing keeper, who hurt himself in the process.

After an eight-minute delay, which saw Haugaard stretchered off, the same duo almost combined again for a Rovers second.

From a long ball forward, Chapman headed the ball into the path of Nuttall, who again raced through on goal, but this time substitute keeper Daniel Gyollai made the save.

Deep into stoppage time, Adam curled a free-kick inches past the post, whilst Chapman saw a curling effort saved by Gyollai, as Rovers saw out the remaining minutes to claim the three points.

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Nyambe (Smallwood 46), Williams (Platt 38), Doyle, Feeney, Whittingham, Tomlinson, Chapman, Gladwin (Nuttall 64), Graham.

Subs not used: Raya, Bennett, Antonsson, Samuel.

Goal: Nuttall (77)

STOKE CITY U21s: Haugaard (Gyollai 85), Adam, Shenton, Souttar, Campbell, Waddington, Banks, Jarvis, Pemberton, McJannet, Wara.

Subs not used: Hill, Devlin, Da Silva, Sorensen, Cherdieu, Ayoola.

Booked: Banks, Souttar, Adam

Attendance: 1,501 (including 86 fans from Stoke)

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