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Scunthorpe Utd 0 Rovers 1

Antonsson's strike secures win over Scunthorpe

12 September 2017

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Rovers made it four league wins on the spin for the first time in 10 years with a 1-0 victory over Scunthorpe United.

Fresh from scoring his first Rovers goal in the 3-0 win at Rochdale at the weekend, Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson grabbed the only goal of the game on 58 minutes, side-footing home Elliott Bennett's pin-point cross.

Earlier, Rovers debutant Rekeem Harper had the best chance of a goalless first half, but he headed wide when well placed, whilst Dominic Samuel felt he should have had a penalty after being brought down in the box.

After Antonsson's goal, Tony Mowbray's men again had penalty appeals waved away, this time for handball, before Derrick Williams came to Rovers' rescue with a superb goal-line clearance to deny Neal Bishop.

Substitute Danny Graham had a great chance to make the points safe nine minutes from time, before Scunthorpe twice came close to a late equaliser, but David Raya made a superb save to deny Funso Ojo and Paddy Madden saw a shot deflect inches over the bar.

However, Rovers held out to claim a fourth straight league success - the first time they have achieved the feat since September/October 2007.

Ahead of the game, Rovers welcomed back captain Charlie Mulgrew after the 31-year-old missed the weekend win with an ankle injury picked up on international duty with Scotland.

The defender's return, at the expense of Paul Downing, who dropped to the bench, was one of two changes to the side, with 17-year-old Harper, who joined on a season-long loan from West Brom on deadline day, handed his Rovers debut in place of Craig Conway, who missed out with a hip injury.

Richie Smallwood, who opened the scoring at Rochdale, lined up against the club where he enjoyed a successful loan spell during the first half of last season, scoring once in 19 appearances.

And there was a familiar face in the Scunthorpe side, as former Rovers youngster Josh Morris, who made 22 appearances in blue-and-white halves, started for the hosts.

After an even opening, it was the hosts who registered the game's first chance on nine minutes, as a long ball forward found Madden, who got the better of Mulgrew and his crisp low drive forced a smart save from Raya, who was excellent throughout.

Rovers' first meaningful attack arrived on 16 minutes and it could - and perhaps should - have resulted in a penalty.

Smallwood headed the ball down to Samuel, who saw his initial shot blocked and as he looked to latch onto the rebound, he was bundled to the ground, but the referee waved away the strong appeals.

Moments later, Duane Holmes tried his luck from distance with a swerving shot, which Raya couldn't hold, but Elliott Ward was on hand to clear the danger.

At the midway point in the half, Bennett delivered a corner from the left and Mulgrew headed just wide at the far post.

On the half-hour mark, a trademark Morris free-kick was top corner bound, but Raya got across to tip the ball over the bar.

Moments later, Madden delivered a cross from the right, Paul Caddis' clearing header was poor and Morris shot straight at Raya.

Rovers then created two great opportunities of their own in quick succession. On 37 minutes, Corry Evans played the ball through to Samuel, who raced in behind the Scunthorpe defence, but saw his stabbed shot goalwards saved by Matt Gilks.

Moments later, Bennett delivered a pin-point cross from the right and the unmarked Harper headed just wide from 10 yards. It was a great chance for the youngster to score on his debut!

Just before the break, Morris whipped in an inviting cross from the left and Lee Novak headed straight at Raya.

Rovers made a change at the interval, with Bradley Dack replacing Harper, which added some extra attacking impetus, and the visitors opened the scoring just before the hour mark.

Bennett delivered a peach of a cross from the right and Antonsson arrived unmarked at the back post to side-foot home.

It was the Swedish striker's second goal in as many games and was scored right in front of the Rovers fans, sending them into raptures!

It would prove to be the loanee from Leeds' last involvement, as he was replaced by Graham soon after.

The substitute was immediately involved, as Rovers again felt they should have been awarded a penalty. Evans' deep cross found Graham and his header down clearly hit a hand, but again the referee remained unmoved.

Moments later and the hosts came close to an equaliser. A corner from the left was headed goalwards by Bishop, but Williams was there to clear off the line.

Nine minutes from time and Rovers had a great chance to double their lead. Dack broke free of his marker down the left and cut the ball back to the unmarked Graham, who ought to have scored, but saw his shot superbly saved by the legs of Gilks.

As the clock approached the 90-minute mark, Scunthorpe almost snatched an equaliser. Ojo had time and space to go for goal from long range, but Raya made a superb save to tip the ball over the bar.

Then, in the third minute of added time, a corner from the right fell to Madden at the far post and his shot deflected off a defender and looped inches over the bar.

Rovers held out and they will be looking to make it five league wins on the spin when they welcome AFC Wimbledon to Ewood Park on Saturday.

SCUNTHORPE: Gilks, Townsend, Wallace, Ojo, Madden, Morris, Bishop (van Veen 79), Novak, Holmes (Adelakun 66), Sutton (Clarke 69), McArdle (c).

Subs not used: Watson, Mantom, Hopper, Burgess.

ROVERS: Raya, Caddis, Ward, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Evans, Smallwood, Harper (Dack 46), Bennett, Antonsson (Graham 64), Samuel (Chapman 81).

Subs not used: Leutwiler, Downing, Whittingham, Gladwin.

Goal: Antonsson (58)
Booked: Antonsson, Graham.

Attendance: 4,330 (820 Rovers fans)

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