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PL2: Southampton 0 Rovers 1

An 89th minute winner from Joe Nuttall sees Rovers defeat the Saints

25 August 2017

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Rovers maintained their 100% start to their Premier League 2 campaign but they left it late to claim the points against Southampton.

It looked like Rovers would be left frustrated on the south coast as Saints keeper Jack Rose pulled off a host of fine saves to keep the Lancashire club at bay, but summer signing Joe Nuttall maintained his impressive start to the season with a sixth goal in three outings.

The game appeared to be heading towards it's goalless conclusion until Nuttall popped up in the 89th minute to head home from close-range to give Rovers a deserved victory.

Damien Johnson made two changes from the side that beat Reading last time out as Connor Thomson and Daniel Butterworth replaced Jack Doyle and Stefan Mols.

But despite that reshuffle, Rovers started in the confident manner that had seen them score five in each of their previous two outings.

Lewis Travis, operating on the left side of midfield due to Doyle's absence, was first to try his luck after just four minutes. Collecting a pass from Butterworth, he cut inside onto his right foot to fire goalwards but Rose made a fine save.

The visitors continued to pose the greater threat, Nuttall getting around the back of the Southampton defence, but he couldn't find a team-mate in the centre.

At the other end Andy Fisher was alert to race off his line to clear a dangerous attack, but it was his opposite number who kept Saints in the game just past the half hour.

Collecting a pass from Joe Rankin-Costello, Nuttall powered down the left before returning the ball to his fellow attacker, Rankin-Costello bent his shot towards the far corner, but Rose got down brilliantly to turn the ball aside.

Goalless at the break, Rovers were strong starters once more as the match restarted. Butterworth sent Nuttall racing forward, again he found Rankin-Costello, but the youngster's effort was weak and easily claimed.

Moments later Damien Johnson's side attacked down the right with Thomson showing his marker a clean pair of heels. He found Butterworth inside but the striker could only fire into the side netting.

Another chance went begging just past the hour mark as a whipped free-kick from Joe Grayson picked out Charley Doyle in front of goal, but the defender headed straight at Rose.

Despite being the home side, Southampton's best opportunities came on the break. On 64 minutes quick play saw Marcus Barnes attack down the right but his centre was poked wide by substitute Will Smallbone.

Rovers then made a change of their own as Callum Wright replaced Butterworth, and he could have marked his PL2 debut with a goal as another dangerous delivery from Thomson picked him out, but the 17-year-old couldn't direct his header on target.

It looked like the last chance of the night would be spurned when Lewis Hardcastle fizzed a long-range effort just over the bar two minutes from time, however less than 60 seconds later the Rovers would be celebrating the goal their all-round play deserved.

Wright did well down the left and as his centre skimmed off the head of Callum Slattery in the area, Nuttall showed his impressive goal-poaching prowess to pounce.

SOUTHAMPTON: Rose, Bakary, Jones (c), Cook, Wood, O'Connor (sub Smallbone 62), Little, Slattery, Barnes, Johnson (sub Tella 70), Afolabi.

Subs not used: Latham, Rowthorn, Klarer.

Goals: None
Booked: None

ROVERS: Fisher, C. Doyle, Travis, Tomlinson, Platt, Grayson, Thomson, Hardcastle (c), Nuttall, Butterworth (sub Wright 69), Rankin-Costello.

Subs not used: Jackson, Albinson, Paton, Mansell.

Goals: Nuttall 89 mins.
Booked: C. Doyle, Tomlinson.

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