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Development Squad

Report: Newcastle U23s 0 Rovers U23s 2

Goals from substitutes Thomson and Wright earn Rovers the points

20 October 2017

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Rovers Under-23s moved up to second in the Premier League 2 table with a 2-0 victory away to Newcastle United.

Goals in each half from substitutes Connor Thomson and Callum Wright earned Rovers their fifth league victory of the campaign.

Ahead of the game, Damien Johnson made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Brighton on Monday night.

Summer deadline day signings Sam Hart and Rekeem Harper were given some game time, after finding opportunities limited at first team level, whilst Charlie Albinson came in for Andy Fisher in goal and Joe Grayson replaced the suspended Willem Tomlinson.

Scott Wharton continued his comeback from injury with a 75-minute run-out.

Newcastle also had some senior experience on show, with Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons starting for the hosts.

And it was the Magpies who threatened first, as Aarons' corner on 10 minutes was cleared only as far as Callum Smith, whose effort struck the bar.

Joe Nuttall, who has netted 10 PL2 goals this season, registered Rovers' first effort at goal, on 17 minutes, but it deflected kindly into the path of Freddie Woodman.

Rovers were forced into an early change, as Thomson came on for the injured Grayson and it was the substitute who opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark.

Thomson's cross from the right deflected off defender Macaulay Gillesphey and looped over Woodman in the Newcastle goal.

Moments later, Nuttall had another sight of goal, but he failed to test the Newcastle keeper from just inside the area.

The visitors picked up where they left off after the break, with Stefan Mols seeing a close-range shot deflect narrowly wide after a quick counter-attack on 48 minutes.

At the other end, Aarons fired wide of the target, before a flurry of bookings and substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.

With 15 minutes remaining, Rovers introduced Wright in place of Wharton and the Academy scholar would go on to make a telling contribution.

On 78 minutess, Joe Rankin-Costello cut the ball back to Wright, who steered a shot wide of the near post, but just three minutes later, the substitute did get his name on the scoresheet with a superb strike past Woodman from 20 yards out.

Rovers saw out the remaining minutes with relative ease to secure the points and extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to five games.

After the game, Johnson said: "We weren't at our best, but we showed some different qualities, such as resilience and character, in order to get the win.

"I've been pleased with a lot of our football in possession this season, but tonight our passing wasn't as crisp.

"Connor Thomson came on and impacted the game, and I felt that we improved in the second half. Callum Wright also came on and scored a terrific goal late on.

"Rekeem and Sam both settled in well, worked hard and showed some quality as well, which helped us. It was good for them and for the manager, who came up to watch us.

"Overall, we can be better. However, we've played better and lost this season. Sometimes you have to find a way to win and we did that tonight."

NEWCASTLE: Woodman, Gillesphey, Sterry, O'Connor, Cameron, McNall, Colback (Yarney 76), Barlaser, Smith, Aarons (Heaney 82), Heardman (Sangare 73).
Subs not used: Harker, Bailey.

Booked: Heardman, Cameron, Gillesphey.

ROVERS: Albinson, Travis, C. Doyle, Platt, Wharton (Wright 75), Hart, Grayson (Thomson 22), Harper, Mols, Rankin-Costello (Butterworth 89), Nuttall.
Subs not used: Dillon, Mansell.

Goals: Thomson (32), Wright (81)
Booked: Rankin-Costello, Mols, Thomson

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