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Match Reports

Barrow 1 Rovers 2

Goals from Craig Conway and Danny Graham see Rovers win their opening pre-season game.

8 July 2017

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Danny Graham netted a stoppage-time winner, as Rovers kicked off their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 victory away to National League side Barrow.

In a dominant first-half display, the opening goal of Rovers' summer schedule arrived on 41 minutes, as Craig Conway finished off a well-crafted move with a cool finish past the Bluebirds keeper.

The hosts battled back after the break and equalised on 74 minutes when Richie Bennett lobbed David Raya from the corner of the area.

Danny Graham and Barrow's Bennett then wasted clear-cut chances late on, before the Rovers striker slotted home the winner with the last kick of the game.

As expected, 22 players were given an outing in the South Lakes sunshine and Tony Mowbray will have been pleased with the energy levels on show, given that the group only returned to training 10 days ago.

Ahead of the game, the Rovers boss handed three of his summer signings a run-out in the first-half, with Peter Whittingham, Richie Smallwood and Ben Gladwin all named in the starting line-up.

They were joined by another new face, trialist Paul Caddis, who has been training with Rovers since the start of pre-season.

Jason Steele started in goal, with Academy graduates Darragh Lenihan and Scott Wharton forming the central defensive partnership, and last season's Player of the Year Derrick Williams at left-back.

Liam Feeney and Conway, who skippered the side, occupied the wide roles, while 17-year-old Joe Rankin-Costello partnered Gladwin in attack.

Rovers had the first real chance of the game on 11 minutes, as Whittingham's corner was cleared only as far as Feeney, whose top corner-bound shot from the edge of the area had to be tipped over the bar by Stuart Moore.

From the resulting corner, Conway crossed from the left and Wharton headed over in the middle.

On 19 minutes, Feeney switched the play wide to Gladwin, who cut inside onto his left foot, but dragged his shot wide of the target from 20 yards out.

Barrow registered their first effort of the game on 21 minutes when Moussa Diarra crossed from the right and Jordan White's header was claimed under his crossbar by Steele.

On 27 minutes, Rovers built from the back, with Smallwood and Whittingham combining to find Conway in space and he drove at the Barrow defence, before seeing his low shot saved by Moore down to his right.

The best move of the half arrived on 35 minutes, as Smallwood found Caddis in space down the right, he picked out Gladwin in the centre, but after a good first touch, his shot deflected comfortably into the arms of Moore.

Caddis was involved again on 39 minutes as he slipped a clever ball through to Feeney, but his drilled cross from the byline was too high for a team-mate in the middle.

With Rovers well on top, the opening goal duly arrived on 41 minutes. Smallwood dropped deep to pick up possession, his ball forward to Gladwin was cushioned down to Rankin-Costello, whose ball over the top found Conway racing through and he coolly drilled the ball past the Barrow keeper.

On the stroke of half-time, Asa Hall dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area, as the Rovers players headed into the tunnel with a 1-0 lead and a decent 45-minute workout under their belts.

As is often the case in pre-season, there was a complete reshuffle at the break, with an entirely different 11 starting the second half.

The travelling Rovers fans got their first glimpse of £750,000 signing Bradley Dack, who supported Elliott Bennett and last season's top scorer Graham in attack.

Corry Evans, who last featured for Rovers on January 2nd, got his first run-out under Mowbray, alongside young midfield duo Lewis Hardcastle and Willem Tomlinson.

Charlie Mulgrew captained the side, partnering Elliott Ward in defence, with Academy graduates Ryan Nyambe and Jack Doyle at full-back, and Raya in goal.

Rovers picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, with Bennett firing wide from 25 yards out less than a minute after the restart.

Bennett then turned provider moments later, as his deep cross from the left found Hardcastle ghosting in around the back, but he couldn't direct his volley on target.

The Rovers man's namesake, Richie Bennett, tried his luck for the hosts on 66 minutes, but his long-range strike deflected high over the bar.

The sought-after striker was presented with another sight of goal on 74 minutes and this time he made no mistake. Jimmy Dunne played a ball forward and Bennett sent a sublime lob over Raya and into the far corner of the net.

Rovers responded well and had a great chance on 86 minutes, but after getting in behind the Barrow defence, Graham blazed high over the bar.

Then, on 89 minutes, Richie Bennett was presented with an even better opportunity, but Raya got down well to make a superb fingertip save and Nyambe completed the clearance off the line.

As the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark, there was still time for Rovers to grab a winner.

Evans played a diagonal ball out wide to Dack, who picked out Graham in the middle and the 31-year-old, who netted 13 times last season, got his pre-season account up and running with a simple finish.

Mowbray's men will now continue their pre-season preparations out in Austria, where they fly out to on Monday, with Czech side Sparta Prague providing the next opposition on Friday July 14th.

BARROW: Moore, Trialist, Jones, Hall, Trialist, Diarra, Hughes, Harvey (c), White, Bauress, Trialist.
Subs: Trialist, Trialist, Dunne, Fitzpatrick, Bennett, Gomis, Panayiotou, Trialist.

Goals: Bennett (74)

ROVERS 1ST HALF: Steele, Caddis, Lenihan, Wharton, Williams, Feeney, Smallwood, Whittingham, Conway (c), Rankin-Costello, Gladwin.

Subs: Fisher, Travis.

Goals: Conway (41).

ROVERS 2ND HALF: Raya, Nyambe, Ward, Mulgrew (c), Doyle, Evans, Hardcastle, Tomlinson, Bennett, Dack, Graham.

Subs: Fisher, Travis.

Goals: Graham (90+1).

Attendance: 891 (including 418 Rovers fans).

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