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Report: West Brom U23s 1 Rovers U23s 4

Three late goals see Rovers U23s end their PL2 title-winning season in some style

23 April 2018

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Rovers Under-23s ended their title-winning campaign on a high as three late goals helped secure a 4-1 win away to West Brom.

Damien Johnson's side, who secured top spot without kicking a ball on Friday night, opened the scoring inside 13 minutes when Matty Platt volleyed home Joe Grayson's corner.

West Brom's cause was made doubly difficult when Alex Bradley was shown a straight red card just before the half-hour mark.

Albion drew level when Jonathan Leko converted Callum Morton's cross just past the hour mark, but Rovers scored three late goals to secure the spoils.

On 85 minutes, substitute Dan Butterworth marked his comeback from injury with a stunning strike, which went in off the woodwork.

And as four minutes of added time went up on the board, there was still time for two more goals.

Joe Nuttall took his tally to 14 PL2 goals for the season with Rovers' third on 94 minutes, before Lewis Mansell stroked home the fourth with the last kick of the game.

It was a fitting end to what has been a fantastic season for Rovers' development squad.

Ahead of the game, Damien Johnson stuck with the same starting XI that suffered a narrow defeat at home to Aston Villa last time out.

There was a familiar face in the West Brom line-up, as Rekeem Harper, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Rovers, started for the hosts.

And the former Rovers midfielder was involved straight from the off, as the Baggies threated the Rovers goal with just 45 seconds on the clock.

After skipping past Willem Tomlinson down the right, Harper swung over a cross from the byline and Evan Pierce glanced a header just wide of the far post.

After a slow start, Rovers opened the scoring with their first real attack of the game on 13 minutes.

Grayson delivered a corner from the left and Platt escaped the clutches of his marker to volley home in the middle.

Stefan Mols twice went close at the midway point in the half - first steering a volley wide of the target, before heading straight into the arms of Alex Palmer from Grayson's cross.

A minute later and the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Bradley was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Tyler Magloire.

Rovers created a couple of decent chances to take advantage soon after, as Joe Nuttall found himself clean through on goal, but Palmer made a smart save with his legs, before Mols got in behind the Baggies defence, but he too was denied by the West Brom keeper.

In a rare attack at the other end, Callum Morton looked to twist and turn his way past Grayson, before seeing his deflected shot parried past the post by Andy Fisher.

Just like they did in the first half, West Brom threatened the Rovers goal inside of the first minute of the restart, as Robbie McCourt crossed from the left, but Pierce fired high over the bar in the centre.

Rovers registered their first attempt of the second half on 56 minutes when Grayson's corner from the left was half-volleyed goalwards by Tomlinson, but Palmer plucked the ball out of the air.

The visitors made a change just past the hour mark, as Okera Simmonds replaced John Buckley, but just seconds later Albion equalised.

Morton did well down the right, before picking out Leko in the centre and the West Brom winger tapped home from close range.

Rovers came close to regaining the lead on 75 minutes when Simmonds' shot fell kindly into the path of Tomlinson, whose shot deflected inches wide of the post.

From the resulting Lewis Hardcastle corner, Nuttall saw his shot saved.

On 80 minutes, Butterworth saw a stinging cross-shot from the right tipped over the bar by Palmer, but the substitute wasn't to be denied moments later.

Travis' cross fell kindly for Butterworth in the area and the substitute smashed a shot in off the underside of the bar.

As four minutes of added time went up on the board, there was still time for some more Rovers goals.

On 93 minute, Mansell saw a shot saved, but a minute later, Jack Evans broke forward and the ball fell to Nuttall on the edge of the area and the striker coolly slotted home his 14th league goal of the season to take him to the top of the PL2 goalscorers charts.

Then, a minute later, Simmonds' shot was blocked and Mansell tucked home the rebound with the last kick of the game.

That goal and the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes of celebration, as the players celebrated their title success with champagne and a champions banner in front of the travelling fans!

WEST BROM: Palmer, Meredith, Harmon (Wilding 34), Ferguson, Jameson, McCourt, Bradley, Harper, Morton, Leko, Pierce (Clayton-Phillips 90).
Subs not used: House, Brown, Azaz.

Booked: McCourt, Leko, Wilding.
Off: Bradley.
Goal: Leko (61).

ROVERS: Fisher, Buckley (Simmonds 61), Platt (Mansell 89), Magloire, Grayson, Evans, Hardcastle, Tomlinson, Travis, Mols (Butterworth 71), Nuttall.
Subs not used: Albinson, Barnes.

Booked: Platt.
Goals: Platt (13), Butterworth (85), Nuttall (90+4), Mansell (90+5).

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