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Development Squad

PL2 Report: Rovers 2 West Ham 1

3 February 2017

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Rovers' Under-23s recorded their third win in a row with a hard-working 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Friday night.

After getting the better of Burnley in the Premier League Cup, and Brighton in the League on Monday, Damien Johnson's side were on the winning side once more at Lancs FA, Leyland.

A stunning Anthony Stokes strike just four minutes in the match saw Rovers in front, but Grady Diangana soon levelled for the Hammers.

But excellent work from Connor Thomson on the right flank saw his cross put into his own net by Josh Pask ten minutes before the break.

Whilst the first half was an open encounter, the second half was a much tighter affair with Rovers restricting the opposition to very little. The home side came the closest to extending their advantage with a shot from Thomson that bounced down on the line after hitting the crossbar.

West Ham put the Rovers back line under pressure in the closing stages, but they saw out the match intelligently to claim the points.

The Under-23s made one change from the side that defeated Brighton 2-0 on Monday evening as Anthony Stokes came in for Daniel Butterworth, and within four minutes the Republic of Ireland international was celebrating a stunning opening goal.

Chasing a flick-on from Lewis Mansell down the right, the striker hit a sumptuous effort that flew across the box and into far corner of the goal.

The visitors looked to hit back straight away with Diangana letting fly from 20-yards out, Rovers keeper Andy Fisher flinging himself to his left to turn the ball aside.

In what was a whirlwind start to the match, Stokes was then unfortunate not to have a second goal to his name. Lewis Hardcastle teeing up the shot, but West Ham keeper Nathan Trott got fingertips to the effort to push it onto the corner of post and bar and away.

However on 17 minutes the Hammers drew level. Left back Vashon Neuville hit a clever ball into the area and Diangana got the deftest of touches to guide it in off the post.

Stokes fired a free-kick into the arms of Trott, before West Ham midfielder Moses Makasi was next to try his luck as play opened up for him. But his curling effort went just beyond the far post.

In what was a thoroughly entertaining first half it would be the home side who'd go in at the break in front. Connor Thomson with a cross from the right that Josh Pask diverted into his own net.

The second half saw Rovers use their possession more intelligently than in the first and that lead to fewer clear-cut openings for the opposition.

A miscued clearance from Joe Rankin-Costello allowed Hammers forward Joe Powell to race through, but he fired wide of the near post in what was a rare opening the London club.

At the other end Willem Tomlinson had a sight of goal but his strike from distance sailed over. Then good improvisation from Stokes saw him flick narrowly wide.

On 64 minutes the home side were inches away from making it 3-1. Midfielder Thomson raced towards goal, taking the ball past his marker before striking from just inside the area, but he was unfortunate to see it crash off the underside of the bar with the officials ruling that it hadn't crossed the line.

The closing stages saw Rovers grow stronger as they restricted the opposition to very little in the final third, seeing out the remaining minutes well to seal a third victory on the trot.

"We were a bit disappointed with the first half performance, we sat off them a bit too much," Johnson told Rovers PlayerHD.

"We scored two good goals but in terms of the performance we were slightly disappointed.

"We upped it in the second half and dug in and were better, but the boys know that we can better than that." 

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Doyle, Tomlinson, Magloire, Platt (c), Thomson, Hardcastle Stokes, Mansell (sub Butterworth 73 mins), Rankin-Costello (sub Mols 78 mins).

Subs not used: C. Doyle, Powell, Grayson.

Goals: Stokes 4 mins, Pask (OG) 34 mins

Booked: None.

WEST HAM: Trott, Knoyle, Neufville, Makasi, Pask, Rice (c), Kemp (sub Hamilton 86 mins), Sylvestre, Powell (sub Ford 78 mins), Diangana, Holland.

Subs not used: Forde.

Goals: Diangana 17 mins.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 167

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