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Development Squad

REPORT: Everton U23s 1-1 Rovers U23s

Dan Butterworth on target, whilst Jacob Davenport comes through 60 minutes

8 February 2019

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Rovers Under-23s' hopes of progressing in the Premier League Cup hang in the balance after a 1-1 draw away to Everton.

The result means that Rovers sit third in the table on seven points, two behind Sheffield United and four behind the Toffess, who have now qualified for the knockout phase.

After a goalless first half, in which Jack Vale had a goal ruled out for offside, Rovers opened the scoring less than a minute after the restart when Dan Butterworth drilled a shot home from close range.

However, Everton responded well and equalised on 69 minutes when the lively Anthony Gordon finished smartly past Charlie Albinson.

Rovers' final group game is against Doncaster Rovers on Monday February 25th, when they know that only a win will do if they are to stand any chance of progressing further in the competition.

Ahead of the game, Damien Johnson made three changes to the side that thrashed Leicester City 7-1 on Monday night.

Summer signing Jacob Davenport made his first outing since scoring in a 2-1 Premier League 2 victory over Liverpool in October, as he stepped up his recovery from a series of injury setbacks, while Louie Annesley made his first start since joining Rovers in January from Gibraltar champions Lincoln Red Imps.

There was also a change in goal, as Albinson came in for Andy Fisher, who has joined National League North side FC United of Manchester on a month-long loan.

Everton won the reverse fixture at the LFA County Ground in Leyland 1-0 back in November, courtesy of an Okera Simmonds own goal.

In bitterly cold conditions in Southport, Rovers made a bright start, creating several chances in the early exchanges.

Everton keeper Mateusz Hewelt showed a safe pair of hands to hold onto dangerous deliveries from first Davenport and then Joe Rankin-Costello, before Rovers ought to have taken the lead on nine minutes.

Stefan Mols supplied an inviting free-kick from the left, which fell kindly for Tyler Magloire, who somehow fired wide of the target from close range.

A minute later, Vale, who scored twice on Monday night, latched onto a ball over the top and slotted past the Everton keeper, but the linesman ruled the goal out for offside. It looked a close call.

As Rovers continued to dominate, John Buckley rode a couple of challenges, before dragging a shot wide from 25 yards out.

Everton registered their first chance of the game on 14 minutes, as Fraser Hornby's free-kick took a wicked deflection off the Rovers wall, wrong-footing Albinson, but the ball bounced inches wide of the right-hand post.

From the resulting corner, Bassala Sambou, who played under manager Tony Mowbray at Coventry, headed over the bar from close range.

The big chance of the half went Everton's way on 36 minutes. Sambou's pass found its way through to Hornby, one-on-one with Albinson, who stood up strong to make a smart save.

Moments later, Dennis Adeniran tried his luck with a fierce volley from 25 yards out, which was too hot for Albinson to handle, but he saved at the second attempt.

Rankin-Costello fired high and wide after engineering an opening for himself, as the first half ended goalless.

However, it took Rovers just 45 seconds to open the scoring after the restart.

Buckley did well down the right to break into the box and get to the byline, his deflected cross was flicked on by Mols and Butterworth was in the right place to slam the ball home from close range.

In front of the watching Rovers boss, Davenport was neat and tidy in possession and not afraid to stick his foot in and win the ball back for the visitors on numerous occasions, before he was replaced by Hayden Carter after getting a valuable 60 minutes under his belt.

Everton responded well to going behind and created two good openings in quick succession.

On 64 minutes, Gordon's curler from outside the area forced a fine save from Albinson, diving away to his left.

And just a couple of minutes later, Nathan Broadhead played in Lewis Gibson, whose left-foot shot bounced back off the base the post.

But it was a let-off Rovers didn't learn from, as Everton equalised from their next attack on 69 minutes.

Sambou flicked the ball on to Gordon, who raced through on goal and confidently volleyed the ball past Albinson.

Rovers pushed for a winner in the closing stages, but they were unable to fashion any clear openings, as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

Johnson's side are back in action on Monday when they host Accrington Stanley in the semi-final of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup at the Rovers Academy, kick-off 1pm.

EVERTON: Hewelt, Astley, Foulds, Denny (Mampala 68), Ouzounidis, Gibson, Gordon, Adeniran (Markelo 56), Hornby (c), Sambou, Broadhead. Subs not used: Hilton, Iversen.

Goal: Gordon (69).

ROVERS: Albinson, C. Doyle, Magloire (c), Annesley, Buckley, Rankin-Costello, Davenport (Carter 62), Mols, Paton, Butterworth, Vale.
Subs not used: Eastham, Saadi, Whitehall, Piliukaitis.

Goal: Butterworth (46).
Booked: C. Doyle (70).

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