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Development Squad

Simmonds scores perfect hat-trick

Okera bags a treble as Rovers Under-23s defeat Darwen 5-0

25 July 2018

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Okera Simmonds scored a perfect hat-trick as Rovers Under-23s defeated AFC Darwen 5-0 at the Anchor Ground.

Ben Paton also bagged a brace as Damien Johnson’s side maintained their 100% pre-season record, securing a fourth straight win without conceding a goal.

Rovers dominated the first half, creating numerous chances, but came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form.

Trialist Kieran Holsgrove had the first opportunity of the match, on eight minutes, after latching onto Paul Caddis’ through ball, but he couldn’t direct his shot on target.

Holsgrove then turned provider, playing in Simmonds, who looked to lift the ball over the advancing keeper, who made a smart reaction save.

At the midway point in the half, a superb cross from Caddis picked out Simmonds in the centre, but his audacious acrobatic volley could only find the side-netting.

The same duo combined 10 minutes later as Caddis again crossed from the right for the unmarked Simmonds, who saw his free header superbly saved by the Darwen keeper.

Caddis was then a whisker away from opening the scoring himself just before the break, as his crisp strike was tipped just wide of the top corner.

Rovers came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half, scoring four goals in less than 15 minutes.

Just a minute after a restart, Caddis again broke down the right, before cutting the ball back to the unmarked Paton, who took a touch before rifling home from inside the area.

Two minutes later, John Buckley played a through ball to Simmonds, who raced through on goal, before cutting inside onto his right foot and burying the ball into the bottom corner.

On 53 minutes, Simmonds slipped in Jack Evans, whose centre was tapped home by Paton from close range and just six minutes later, Evans again provided an assist, delivering a sumptuous cross from the left to the back post, where Simmonds rose expertly to head home.

Charlie Albinson was called upon for the first time in the game on 63 minutes, coming off his line quickly to smother a shot, before Rovers wrapped up the scoring on 66 minutes when Simmonds converted Caddis’ centre to complete his perfect hat-trick.

Twelve months ago, Rovers defeated Darwen by the same scoreline in a friendly, with Joe Nuttall netting a hat-trick, and Simmonds will be hoping to have a similar season to the one Nuttall enjoyed with both the Under-23s and first team last term.

ROVERS: Albinson, Caddis, C. Doyle, Magloire, Grayson (Carter 65), Evans, Paton, Mols, Holsgrove (Buckley 46), Butterworth, Simmonds (Mansell 76).
Subs not used: Winterbottom, Platt, Thompson, Hardcastle.

Goals: Paton (47, 53), Simmonds (49, 59, 66).

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