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Report: Leicester City U23s 1-1 Rovers U23s

Battling Rovers pick up a point on the road to get up and running in Premier League 2

19 August 2019

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A second half strike from Joe Grayson ensured Rovers got off the mark in Premier League 2 in Billy Barr's first game as permanent manager.

Grayson levelled the score against Leicester City at a chilly King Power Stadium after Ali Reghba's early opener for the hosts had handed The Foxes a half time advantage.

But Rovers improved after the break and deservedly worked a goal themselves through Grayson's close range finish, against a club for whom father Simon represented more than 200 times in the early 1990s.

The visitors will count themselves unfortunate to have not earned more for their efforts, with Joe Rankin-Costello twice going close to finding the net before the equaliser.

But there could well have been late heartache for Rovers, with Andy Fisher producing an excellent stop late on to ensure the visitors of a precious point on the road.

Sam Hart and Harry Chapman were two of seven changes made by new boss Barr for the clash against The Foxes, whilst the hosts included a Rovers Academy graduate in Callum Wright, who moved to Leicester in January 2018 for an undisclosed fee, in their starting XI. 

The experienced Swiss stopper Eldin Jakupović, formerly of Hull City, started in goal for the hosts, who themselves made a number of alterations from last week's draw at Everton.

The visitors got off to the worst possible start as Leicester took the lead inside the opening two minutes on home turf. Reghba was threaded in behind the Rovers backline before calmly sliding the ball under the onrushing Fisher and into the back of the net.

Rovers responded well, with Chapman seeing his effort deflect just past the post after the winger weaved away from a couple of opponents before cutting in and going for goal.

At the other end, only the toes of skipper Matty Platt stopped George Thomas' pass from reaching Reghba, before the home striker saw Fisher in his way to touch his close range effort onto the post soon after.

Barr's boys had had more of the ball, but had struggled to create too many chances of note against a resolute Foxes side, who went in at the break with a narrow advantage.

But just moments into the second half that advantage could have been doubled.

Tom White's pass was cut out by Thomas, and neat interplay eventually led to a chance falling the way of Admiral Muskwe, who fluffed his lines and scuffed wide of Fisher's right-hand post.

Two quickfire chances came the way of Rovers and Joe Rankin-Costello just before the hour as Barr's side upped the ante looking for a route back into the game.

A fine run from the rampaging right back saw his strike tipped away for a corner by Jakupovic, before the same player was denied by the home stopper just a moment later after Platt's header back across goal fell into the youngster's path.

Rovers looked to have renewed belief, and just after the hour the equaliser deservedly arrived.

Chapman took a smart free kick, and his low ball into the box was flicked home by Grayson, who had shown good movement to escape his marker.

It looked like it would end all square with time running out, but Rovers were left thankful for Fisher, who bravely stood tall to stop Muskwe from bagging what would have been a late Leicester winner with just three minutes of the encounter remaining.

The drama didn't stop there, with Stefan Mols close to a late, late Rovers winner in the dying embers of the game, only for Jakupovic to save, before Thomas blazed over at the other end with the last kick of the game.

The result ensured Rovers got up and running in Premier League 2, with Wolves next to visit Leyland on Friday night, kick-off 7pm.

Leicester City U23s: Jakupović, Daley-Campbell (Clark, 58), Benković, Hughes (Pascanu, 74), Ughelumba, Wright (Tee, 77), Dewsbury-Hall, Leshabela, G. Thomas (c), Muskwe, Reghba.

Unused substitutes: Johansson, L. Thomas.

Goal: Reghba, 2

Booked: Daley-Campbell.

Rovers U23s: Fisher, Rankin-Costello, Hart (Thompson, 46), Doyle, Platt (c), Grayson, White, Lyons, Chapman, Mols, Vale.

Unused substitutes: Hilton, Anneseley, Barnes, Brennan.

Goal: Grayson, 64

Booked: White, 62

Referee: James Bell

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