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Match Reports

Report: Rovers U23s 2 Reading U23s 0

Second half goals from Butterworth and Nuttall ensure three points are taken against the Royals

9 February 2018

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Two second half strikes ensured Rovers made it three wins from their last three games as Damien Johnson's side cemented their place at the top of the table in Premier League 2.

Dan Butterworth handed Rovers the lead just after the half time break before Joe Nuttall bravely added a second on a chilly night at the Lancashire FA HQ.

It was a pretty comfortable display throughout, with the added bonus being Darragh Lenihan playing the full 90 minutes as he stepped up his comeback from a broken metatarsal suffered at Southend on the opening day of the season.

Andy Fisher was rarely tested as Rovers secured the three points in confident fashion

Both Lenihan and Nuttall started the game for Johnson's side, in the two changes from the starting XI which defeated Fulham last week.

Lewis Mansell dropped to the bench, whilst Joe Rankin-Costello missed out on the squad through injury.

Johnson included trialist Chiori Johnson and Okera Simmonds in the squad, who are on the books of Arsenal and Liverpool, respectively.

The visitors included highly rated England Under-17 World Cup winner Danny Loader in their starting XI.

It was Reading who had the first opportunity on four minutes, but after an error from Tyler Magloire, Ben House could only slam wide of the target from close range.

Moments later and Jack Evans dragged inches past the post after some neat play from Charley Doyle.

Rovers were starting to get shots away and after a flurry of blocks from the Royals defence, Doyle fired over the upright.

Midway through the half and a good breakaway from Dan Butterworth led to him finding Nuttall, whose powerful attempt took a deflection before looping just over Liam Driscoll's crossbar.

A wicked Reading free kick saw Gabriel Osho head into the grateful gloves of Andy Fisher, as the Royals started to grow into the game on the half hour mark.

Five minutes later and trialist Johnson got on the end of a lovely cross in from Evans but saw Liam Driscoll tip the ball around the post.

From the resulting corner Driscoll was called into action again. A superb corner from Joe Grayson found the head of Lenihan, who connected well but saw the Royals 'keeper get down well to deny him.

Six minutes into the second half and Rovers went ahead. Good play from Butterworth on the left led to him going for goal, and his attempt took a deflection, looped over Driscoll and nestled nicely into the corner.

A moment later and a cross-shot from the rampaging Evans narrowly drifted past the post. At the other end, Frost smashed over from the edge of the box under pressure from Lenihan.

Rovers were knocking at the door for a second and Driscoll did well to hold another powerful Grayson delivery from a free kick.

Lenihan went on mazy run just a minute later, but saw his dink denied by Driscoll before the follow up effort from Nuttall was blocked.

From the resulting corner, Charley Doyle smashed Grayson's corner onto the top of the bar as Rovers looked to up the ante.

Reading weren't done and were pushing men further up, which led to Osho firing wide of the target with just under 20 minutes to go.

But a couple of minutes later and Rovers gained further daylight between themselves and the opponents.

A header back towards Driscoll saw Nuttall nip in bravely ahead of the Royals stopper and the ball trickled over the line, despite the striker being clattered by the 'keeper.

Rovers saw the game out comfortably and professionally in the end and will hope to continue their fine run ahead of Monday's trip to Watford in the Premier League Cup.

Rovers Under-23s: Fisher, Lenihan, Evans, Doyle, Magloire, Grayson, Johnson (Simmonds, 78), Hardcastle (c), Nuttall (Mansell, 90), Buckley, Butterworth (Vale, 85).

Unused substitutes: Carter, Albinson.

Goal: Butterworth, 51, Nuttall, 73

Booked: Lenihan, 30

Reading Under-23s: Driscoll, Howe, Osho (c), Holmes, Medford-Smith, East, Rollinson (Coleman, 85), Holsgrove, House, Frost, Loader.

Unused substitutes: Green, Desbois, Shokunbi, Odimayo.

Booked: Howe, 44, House, 45

Attendance: 198


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