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Report: Rovers U23s 3-1 Manchester City U23s

Damien Johnson's youngsters turn on the style to earn a win at Ewood Park that secures safety in Premier League 2

15 April 2019

Rovers Under-23s turned on the style to secure Premier League 2 safety with a game to play after a comprehensive victory against Manchester City's Under-23s at Ewood Park

It's now 12 wins in the last 16 outings for Johnson's charges, whose second half performance earned a deserved three points for the hosts in front of more than 1,000 supporters on home turf.

All the action came in the second 45 minutes, with goals from Dan Butterworth (penalty), Jack Vale and Harry Chapman putting Rovers in command before Benjamin Garre's spot-kick earned City a late consolation.

Jacob Davenport and Harry Chapman both got minutes under their belts from the start, whilst the visitors included £42m French defender Eliaquim Mangala.

Chapman had the first opportunity of the game, and after beating Iker Pozo with a wonderful flick, he blazed over when the best option would have been to play in the open Vale after just 15 minutes.

Chances were few and far between for both sides, but with two minutes to go until half-time, Chapman's pinpoint left-foot cross found Joe Rankin-Costello, but the in-form right-back headed just past Daniel Grimshaw's right-hand post.

Soon after and another Chapman delivery caused panic, but whilst his corner was perfect for Hayden Carter at the back post, Grimshaw was in the right place to hold.

Rovers had the majority of the play in the first half, but the teams went into the break level, with City struggling to create anything of note.

Johnson's side continued their dominance after the break, with Chapman firing a free-kick over the bar just seconds into the half.

The hosts did have the ball in the net on 49 minutes, but after Butterworth's low ball was flicked on by Vale, Charley Doyle tapped home, but was adjudged to be offside.

But a moment later more threatening play from Chapman saw the flanker taken down in the box, which gave Butterworth the chance to give Rovers the lead.

The forward stepped up and drove the spot-kick low to Grimshaw's right-hand side to put the hosts a goal up in emphatic style.

Johnson's youngsters continued to probe, with Carter heading a Chapman corner over the upright soon after the opener.

The impressive Chapman missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 on the hour mark as he shook off Eric Garcia, but smashed over the upright when clean through on goal.

But Rovers weren't to be denied as Vale turned and bent a sublime strike into the far corner, giving Grimshaw no chance.

City did finally work a chance, but Felix Nmecha's free-kick from 20 yards whistled past Charlie Albinson's right-hand post with under 20 minutes remaining.

Soon after and 2-0 became 3-0, with Vale involved again in the flowing move that led to Chapman's lovely finish.

The Welshman played the winger in with a perfect pass and Chapman finished with aplomb, despite Grimshaw getting a touch on his slotted finish.

Good feet from Nmecha saw the striker hauled down in the box by John Buckley and substitute Garre stepped up to fire into the corner, sending Albinson the wrong way.

But it wasn't to blot Rovers' display, with victory well earned and deserved at Ewood, with confidence boosted ahead of next week's Premier League Cup quarter-final clash with Everton at Goodison Park.

Rovers Under-23s: Albinson, C. Doyle, Thompson, Davenport, Magloire (c), Carter, Rankin-Costello, Buckley, Vale, Butterworth, Chapman (Mols, 90).

Unused substitutes: Eastham, Annesley, Barnes, Saadi.

Goals: Butterworth pen, 51, Vale, 63, Chapman, 77

Booked: Magloire, 45, Carter, 71, Davenport, 79, Buckley

Manchester City Under-23s: Grimshaw, Garcia (c), Sandler, Mangala, Wilson, Pozo, Poveda, Doyle, Gonzales (Garre, 71), Nmecha, Bernabe (Touaizi, 71).

Unused substitutes: Scott, Rosler, Frimpong.

Goal: Garre pen, 83

Booked: Pozo, 55

Referee: Declan Bourne

Attendance: 1,215


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