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Development Squad

Report: Rovers U23s 7 Leicester City U23s 1

Outstanding Rovers display sees the youngsters glide past 10-man Leicester at Leyland

4 February 2019

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Rovers produced their best performance of the season to earn a convincing victory at home to 10-man Leicester City at Leyland.

Joe Rankin-Costello got Rovers up and running at the Lancashire FA HQ before Calvin Ughelumba saw red just before half time.

Ben Paton scored from the resulting free kick before Stefan Mols made the half time team talk an easy one for Damien Johnson.

Rovers didn't let up in the second half, with further strikes from Jack Vale, John Buckley and Charley Doyle earning the Development Squad a mammoth victory on home turf.

Johnson had to shuffle his pack a little following the departures of a few members of his squad towards the end of the transfer window, which meant youngsters Jalil Saadi, Vilius Piliukaitis and Isaac Whitehall were all on the bench.

New capture Louis Annesley, who signed from Lincoln Red Imps a week beforehand, started his Rovers career on the bench.

Visitors Leicester included former Rovers academy winger Callum Wright in their starting lineup, whilst the experienced Matty James, who was born locally in Bacup, was also part of the starting XI.

The Foxes had the first opportunity of the game just four minutes into the Premier League 2 clash, but Ryan Loft could only fire wide of the target under pressure from skipper Tyler Magloire.

Rovers were growing in confidence, and with their opening chance they worked the opening goal midway through the half.

Good work down the left from Dan Butterworth saw the forward pick out Rankin-Costello at the back post, and the midfielder tucked home, despite Viktor Johansson getting a touch on his attempt.

The goal gave Rovers confidence, and their cause was given a further boost with six minutes of the half remaining when defender Ughelumba tripped Jack Vale on the edge of the box.

And from the resulting free kick Paton made it 2-0; confidently smashing home, low into the bottom corner, giving Johansson no chance with five minutes left of the first half.

Things got better for Rovers just three minutes later, as a flowing move ended with John Buckley's low ball in being swept home by Stefan Mols to complete a dream half for Johnson's charges.

The second half started as the first half ended, and Vale got reward for his hard work as he pounced to notch Rovers' fourth of the evening just four minutes into the half.

And two minutes later Vale had his second of the night as he turned and rifled home from close range after a cross from Rankin-Costello was deflected into his path.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Rovers though, and the visitors pulled one back from range through the right foot of Kiernan Dewbury-Hall on the hour mark.

But with 16 minutes to go Rovers made it a super six as a fine one-two between Buckley and Mols left the former to finish things off by cooly slotting past Johansson.

Just 10 minutes later and it was a magnificent seven for the hosts as Paton's excellent delivery from the left was thumped into the back of the net via the head of Doyle from eight yards out. 

And that was to prove the last of the goals as Rovers completed the rout and move out of the relegation zone with it.

Rovers U23s: Fisher, C. Doyle, Thompson (Saadi, 65), Paton, Magloire (c), Platt, Rankin-Costello (Whitehall, 80), Buckley, Vale (Annesley, 72), Butterworth, Mols.

Unused substitutes: Winterbottom, Piliukaitis.

Goal: Rankin-Costello, 20, Paton, 40, Mols, 43, Vale, 49, 51, Buckley, 74, C. Doyle, 84.

Booked: Vale, 41.

Leicester City U23s: Johansson, Ramsay (Husek, 46), Thomas, Sherif (c) (Elewa-Ipakwu, 58), Ughelumba, Pascanu, Dewsbury-Hall, James, Loft (Shade, 46), Muskwe, Wright.

Unused substitutes: Bramley, Tee.

Goal: Dewsbury-Hall, 60

Booked: Sherif, 33, Pascanu, 78.

Sent off: Oghelumba, 38

Referee: Martin Woods.

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