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Report: Rovers Under-23s 3-1 Leicester City Under-23s

Rovers produce arguably their best performance of the season to return to winning ways in Premier League 2

13 December 2019

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A vintage performance saw Rovers earn a terrific victory over in form Leicester City at Ewood Park and end the Foxes' eight-game winning streak in all competitions.

Goals from Dominic Samuel, Dan Butterworth and Brad Lyons did the damage as Rovers produced arguably their best display of the season to stop the visitors from extended their 11-game unbeaten streak.

Rovers raced into an early two-goal lead in the first half before Admiral Muskwe pulled one back midway through the half.

Chances were few and far between before Andy Fisher saved a George Hirst penalty and Rovers went up the other end to add a third of the night in tough conditions to help Billy Barr's side return to winning ways.

Richie Smallwood started in midfield, just as he did in the last game at Arsenal, and partnered Jacob Davenport in the middle of the park.

Samuel returned from illness to lead the line, whilst a new look centre back partnership saw run outs for Sam Barnes and Tyler Magloire following injury.

Leicester included Rovers Academy graduate Callum Wright in their starting XI in what was an unchanged side from the team that began their last outing - a victory against Everton Under-23s.

The first attempt of the encounter came seven minutes in at a drizzly Ewood Park, but Hayden Carter's left footed attempt from just inside the box was comfortable for visiting stopper Viktor Johansson to gather.

But a minute later they did take the lead through a close range finish from Samuel.

After Stefan Mols' first cross was cleared back into his path, the winger's next ball in reached Butterworth, with his flick goalwards simply tapped home at the back post by the lurking Samuel.

Things got better for Rovers soon after as the hosts were awarded a penalty midway through the half when the lively Butterworth was brought down in the box.

He dusted himself down to slam the penalty low and hard to Johansson's right, and although the Swede got a touch, he couldn't keep out the forward's effort.

The visitors went in search of grabbing a goal back, but Hirst skewed wide from 12 yards with just Fisher to beat after a scramble in the box in what would be the first of two notable battles between the pair in the game.

A Leicester goal did come a moment later when Muskwe slid under Fisher after latching on the end of a great ball through by defender Darnell Johnson.

Rovers rallied and went in search of a quick response, with Samuel twice going close to adding to his and Rovers tally only to have Johansson in his way on both occasions.

Rovers went into the break with the slender advantage, but the scoreline could and shout have improved 10 minutes after the interval.

A weaving solo run from Harry Chapman saw the winger skip past a couple of challenges and set up Samuel, but he took too long to pull the trigger and the danger was cleared.

Chances were few and far between in the early stages of the second half prior to Leicester being awarded a spot kick with 17 minutes remaining.

Chapman was harshly adjudged to have barged Mitchell Clark over in the box and Hirst had a chance to level the score for the Foxes.

The striker opted for a placed attempt but Fisher guessed right to hold onto the forward's attempt and preserve Rovers' advantage.

A horrific attempted clearance from Filip Benkovic saw the Croatian let in Samuel, but the frontman dragged his strike wide from the edge of the box with five minutes remaining.

But there was to be a late goal that ensured Rovers wouldn't regret that miss and it came through substitute Brad Lyons.

The Northern Irishman had only been in for six minutes, but that was enough time to secure the three points with a lovely slotted finish after getting on the end of a perfect pass from Lewis Thompson.

That was to be the last of the action as Rovers picked up a richly deserved three points on home turf.

Next up for Barr's boys is a trip to Newcastle United in the final group game of the Premier League International Cup, kick-off is 7pm at the Northumberland FA HQ on Friday 20th December.

Rovers Under-23s: Fisher, Carter, Thompson, Davenport (Paton, 77), Barnes, Magloire (Vale, 67), Mols (c), Smallwood, Samuel, Butterworth (Lyons, 83), Chapman.

Unused substitutes: Eastham, Jackson.

Goals: Samuel, 9, Butterworth pen, 21, Lyons, 89.

Booked: Smallwood, 26, Barnes, 56

Leicester City Under-23s: Johansson, Johnson, L. Thomas (Eppiah, 46), G. Thomas (c) (Reghba, 86), Ughelumba, Benkovic, Clark, Dewsbury-Hall, Hirst, Wright (Leshabela, 60), Muskwe.

Unused substitutes: Davies, Daley-Campbell.

Goal: Muskwe, 27

Booked: Benkovic, 53

Referee: Lewis Smith.

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