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Development Squad

Rovers U23s 4 Fulham U23s 0

Goals from Wright, Nuttall, Rankin-Costello and Mansell see Rovers romp to victory

25 September 2017

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Callum Wright
Callum Wright

Rovers Under-23s were back amongst the goals as they returned to winning ways in fine style with an emphatic 4-0 Premier League 2 victory at home to Fulham.

Academy scholar Callum Wright was instrumental in the success, scoring a superb opener on nine minutes, before setting up Joe Nuttall for Rovers' second just before the half-hour mark.

Nuttall was forced off after injuring himself in the process, before Fulham's Isaac Pearce was stretchered off and taken to hospital with what looked like a serious injury.

Rovers didn't let the long delays disrupt their impressive display, as Joe Rankin-Costello swept home his sixth of the season on 55 minutes, before Wright claimed his second assist, crossing for substitute Lewis Mansell to head home 10 minutes later.

With the contest put to bed, 16-year-old Welsh starlet Jack Vale was brought on for his debut and he won a penalty late on, but Rankin-Costello blasted his spot-kick against the woodwork. 

Ahead of the game, Rovers made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 away to Norwich City last weekend.

With Lewis Hardcastle and Joe Grayson suspended and Jack Doyle and Willem Tomlinson injured, that meant first starts at Under-23 level for scholars John Buckley and Ben Paton, whilst Connor Thomson also came into the starting line-up.

Rovers started brightly, with Buckley firing wide of the target from distance on four minutes and Nuttall seeing a low shot saved by Magnus Norman on seven minutes, before the hosts opened the scoring moments later.

Wright advanced forward from midfield, before unleasing a stunning 30-yard strike into the top left-hand corner. A terrific way to open his account! 

The hosts thought they had doubled their lead on 13 minutes, when Nuttall converted Lewis Travis' pin-point cross, but the striker was adjudged to have strayed offside. It was a close call.

Rovers remained in the ascendancy and went close again at the midway point in the half. Wright did brilliantly to break down the left, his cross found Stefan Mols at the far post, he played the ball back inside to Nuttall, whose shot on the turn was saved by Norman.

The second goal Rovers' display deserved did arrive just before the half-hour mark. Wright played a ball over the top for Nuttall to chase, he won the race and lobbed the Fulham keeper for his eighth PL2 goal - and ninth in all competitions - this season.

The Rovers striker was flattened by the onrushing Norman in the process and after lengthy treatment, he was replaced by Mansell.

Soon after, Isaac Pearce collided with Rovers keeper Andy Fisher and the Fulham player had to be stretchered off, with Mikolaj Kwietniewski coming on in his place.

That meant 14 minutes of stoppage time went up on the board at the end of the first half!

In the 10th added minute, Fulham registered their first effort at goal, as Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson lifted a ball over the top to Rafa Soares, who forced a smart save from Fisher at his near post.

Just like they did in the first half, Rovers started the second half in impressive fashion.

On 47 minutes, Buckley sliced a left-foot shot wide of the target, before Rankin-costello broke through, with Mansell in space to his right, but he opted to go for goal himself and Norman made the save.

However, the third goal did arrive on 55 minutes and what a well-worked team goal it was. It started with Fisher, continued by Travis, before the ball was played out wide to Thomson and his low centre was superbly swept home by Rankin-Costello.

Just past the hour mark, Moritz Jenz was denied by Fisher at one end, before Wright was denied his second of the game by Norman straight down the other.

On 65 minutes, Rovers added a fourth. Buckley played the ball out left to Wright and his cross was headed home by Mansell.

Moments later, Fisher made a superb save to deny Elijah Adebayo from point-blank range, before Travis twice put his body on the line to block the follow-ups.

On 72 minutes, 16-year-old Vale came on for his debut and he made an instant impression, playing in Rankin-Costello, who fired wide of the upright from the edge of the area.

The young substitute was involved again as Rovers ought to have added a fifth two minutes from time. Jack Evans linked well with Vale, who was brought down in the box, but Rankin-Costello's penalty cannoned against the crossbar.

It would have been the third time this season that Rovers have netted five goals in a league game.

Overall, it was an extremely satisfying night for Damien Johnson's young side, who kept a clean sheet, scored four well-worked goals and could have added a few more.

ROVERS: Fisher, Thomson, Paton, Travis, C. Doyle, Platt, Mols, Buckley (Evans 73), Nuttall (Mansell 33), Rankin-Costello, Wright (Vale 72).
Subs not used: Albinson, Carter.

Goals: Wright (9), Nuttall (29), Rankin-Costello (55), Mansell (65)

FULHAM: Norman, Jenz, Soares (Elstone 63), Edun, Davies, Atkinson, De La Torre (Nabay 63), O'Riley, Adebayo, Pearce (Kwietniewski 45), Dagur Thorsteinsson.
Subs not used: Ashby-Hammond.

Booked: Norman, Adebayo.

Attendance: 259

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