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Report: Newcastle U23s 2-3 Rovers U23s

John Buckley scores twice as Rovers Under-23s edge a five-goal thriller away to Newcastle United

20 December 2019

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John Buckley scored twice and produced a dazzling display, as Rovers Under-23as ended their Premier League International Cup campaign with an entertaining 3-2 victory away to Newcastle United.

Rovers raced into a two-goal lead inside 16 minutes, as Buckley converted Harry Chapman’s centre, before Chapman brilliantly bent home a superb second moments later.

The visitors should have been ought of sight in the first half, as Buckley was denied on several other occasions, but Rovers let Newcastle back into the game on the half-hour mark, as skipper Thomas Allan scored from the spot.

The Magpies drew level 10 minutes into the second half, as Allan netted his second of the game in spectacular style, but Buckley won it for Rovers 15 minutes from time with another neat finish.

It was an impressive performance from Rovers, who went into the game unable to progress further in the competition, having lost 2-0 to Hertha Berlin in their opening group game, before suffering a cruel 2-1 defeat to Benfica.

Newcastle were still looking to qualify for the knockout stage, having drawn 1-1 with Benfica, before beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 last time out.

Ahead of the game, Billy Barr made six changes to the side that defeated Leicester City in Premier League 2 action at Ewood Park a week ago.

Sam Hart and Brad Lyons both returned to the starting line-up after lengthy injury lay-offs, whilst Buckley was given a run out, having found first team opportunities hard to come by in recent weeks.

There were also starts for goalkeeper Joe Hilton, midfielder Ben Paton and forward Jack Vale, who led the line in place of the injured Dan Butterworth, who is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

Rovers started strongly, registering three chances in quick succession early on.

Vale twice saw efforts blocked on the line, before the Welshman teed up Buckley, but his shot was well saved by Jake Turner in the Newcastle goal at point-blank range.

The breakthrough was coming and it arrived on 13 minutes, as Buckley found Chapman on the overlap to his left, he got to the byline before cutting the ball back to Buckley, who tapped home from six yards out.

It should have been 2-0 a minute later, as Vale again played in Buckley with a clever reverse pass, but Turner made another superb save.

But on 16 minutes, Rovers get the second goal their play deserved. Richie Smallwood picked up possession before laying the ball square to Chapman, who struck a lovely first-time shot into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Buckley was tormenting the Newcastle defence and he came close to adding a third on 24 minutes, as he danced past a couple of players, before seeing his shot saved by the legs of Turner.

Moments later and the hosts halved the deficit. Stefan Mols brought down Rosaire Longelo in the box and Allan, who scored twice against Hertha Berlin in their last group game, stroked the spot-kick into the bottom right corner.

The final action of the half belonged to the two best players on the pitch, as Chapman showed some neat skill to beat his man and get the byline, before cutting the ball back to Buckley, who saw his goal-bound shot blocked.

Rovers picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, with Chapman again looking lively down the left, before seeing his shot deflect behind by Turner at his near post.

However, on 55 minutes, Newcastle were back level, as Allan grabbed his second of the game with a sensational 30-yard strike right into the top corner.

Rovers responded well. On 65 minutes, Buckley got the ball through to Vale, who made contact at full stretch, but Turner smothered the shot and Vale hurt himself in the process.

On 69 minutes, a well-worked move from Rovers saw Chapman break forward and feed Lewis Thompson on the overlap and his cross was volleyed into the arms of Turner by Ben Paton.

Moments later, Buckley broke clear and played in Luke Brennan, whose centre was turned over his own bar by Lewis Cass.

Rovers ought to have retaken the lead when Mols played a ball over the top to Chapman, who raced clear on goal, but he was denied by Turner when one-on-one.

The goal Rovers deserved arrived seconds later, as Chapman crossed from the right and Buckley took a touch before coolly slotting the ball beyond Turner.

The action didn't end there, as Newcastle pressed hard for an equaliser late on.

On 82 minutes, Victor Fernandez created space for a shot, but Joe Hilton made a smart save with his legs.

A minute later, Newcastle had the ball in the back of the Rovers net, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

All of a sudden, Rovers were leading a charmed life, as Hilton made two big saves in quick succession to deny Allan his hat-trick, before substitute Yannick Toure could only find the side-netting.

But Barr's boys held on to claim the points and end both their Premier League International Cup campaign and the calendar year on a high.

NEWCASTLE: Turner, Barrett, Walters, Young, Cass, McEntee, Allan (c), Sangare, Sorensen (Toure 71), Fernandez, Longelo.
Subs not used: Langley, Francillette, Gamblin, De Bolle, Anderson.

Goals: Allan (30 pen, 55).

Booked: Longelo (82), Young (90+5).

ROVERS: Hilton, Mols (c), Barnes, Magloire, Hart (Thompson 60), Smallwood, Paton, Lyons, Buckley, Chapman, Vale (Brennan 72).
Subs not used: Eastham, Whitehall.

Goals: Buckley (13, 75), Chapman (16).

Booked: Chapman (33), Barnes (62), Lyons (82).

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