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Report: Blackpool 0 Rovers 2

Rovers sign off an unbeaten pre-season with victory over Simon Grayson's charges at a soaking Bloomfield Road

27 July 2019

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Rovers completed pre-season with a comfortable victory over Blackpool at a sodden Bloomfield Road thanks to goals from Adam Armstrong and Ben Brereton.

The victory means Tony Mowbray's side have come through the five pre-season tests unbeaten ahead of the big Championship kick-off at Ewood Park next weekend.

It was a game that the visitors largely bossed, in tough conditions on the Fylde Coast against Simon Grayson's League One Tangerines.

Armstrong got Rovers off to the perfect start with a brilliant finish before Brereton completed the victory with a close range strike late on.

The hosts rarely troubled, but another positive for the boss will have been a second successive clean sheet in the space of four days.

There was a first appearance for recent capture Christian Walton, as Mowbray named a strong team against a new look Blackpool side.

The Brighton & Hove Albion loanee started in goal, whilst Elliott Bennett returned from injury to play at right back in place of Joe Rankin-Costello.

Charlie Mulgrew partnered Darragh Lenihan in the heart of defence, and an attacking lineup saw the likes of Sam Gallagher, Bradley Dack, Armstrong and Graham all start in a menacing-looking front four.

Options on the bench included the returning Corry Evans, and Joe Grayson, who was up against father Simon, the current Blackpool boss.

It didn't take long for Rovers to earn an early advantage as Armstrong cut in from the left before curling a delightful strike beyond the despairing dive of fellow Geordie Jak Alnwick and into the top right-hand corner after only three minutes.

More good work from Armstrong provided the next opportunity soon after, with only good defending from former Rover Ryan Edwards stopping Graham's goalbound effort from close range.

The hosts nearly worked an equaliser on 11 minutes, but after good work from another former Ewood man in Nathan Delfouneso, towering forward Armand Gnanduillet was wasteful and failed to test debutant Walton.

Rovers were looking comfortable and having the majority of the posession on the Fylde Coast, and more nifty footwork from Armstrong led to Graham's flick towards towards goal just lacking the necessary power to truly test Alnwick at the midway point of the first half.

The duo combined again on the half hour mark, and Graham was left wondering if it was going to be his day as he slid wide of the target with just Alnwick to beat.

Gallagher almost made it 2-0 just before the break, but after being played through by Graham, the summer signing saw an alert Alnwick out to clear the danger before the former Southampton man nodded over a teasing cross from the advanced Elliott Bennett.

So Rovers took the lead into the break, but four minutes after the interval Blackpool would have forced an equaliser were it not for the long legs of Walton.

After a neat one-two between Michael Nottingham and ex-Rover Jay Spearing, the former was in, but after prodding goalwards, Walton showed great reactions to deny the right back, whose shot took a deflection off Darragh Lenihan.

It took Rovers until the 67th minute to test Alnwick, with Armstrong - this time on the right - finding substitute John Buckley lurking on the edge of the box, but the youngster's effort was comfortable for the home 'keeper.

At the other end, ex-Rover Liam Feeney blasted well wide of Walton's left-hand post after initial good defending from skipper Mulgrew.

A plethora of alterations saw Mowbray rest up a number of the senior players, with eight changes made for the final 15 minutes.

Two minutes later and one of the substitutes doubled the lead for Rovers, with Brereton in the right place at the right time to capitalise after Alnwick spilled a Richie Smallwood free kick into his path.

It's now two goals in the last two games for Brereton, who has certainly managed to stake a claim for a starting berth for next week's Championship opener against Charlton Athletic.

That was to be the last action of what was a decent workout for Rovers, and with a number of impressive showings in pre-season, Mowbray has decisions to make ahead of the return of the real football on Saturday.

Over to you, boss!

Blackpool: Alnwick, Anderton (Husband, 59), Edwards, Delfouneso (Pritchard, 80), Spearing (c) (Devitt, 80), Kaikai (Guy, 80), Nottingham (Feeney, 59), Thompson, Tilt, Turton, Gnanduillet (Hardie, 59).

Unused substitutes: Mafoumbi, Tollitt, Yussuf, Sims, Ceesay, Shaw.

Rovers: Walton, Bennett (Nyambe, 75), Lenihan (Rankin-Costello, 75), Mulgrew (c) (Grayson, 75), Downing (Bell, 75), Johnson (Smallwood, 75), Travis (Evans, 75), Armstrong, Dack (Buckley, 59), Gallagher (Brereton, 75), Graham (Rothwell, 59).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Magloire.

Goals: Armstrong, 3, Brereton, 78

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 3,876 (1,741).

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