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Report: Everton U23s 2-1 Rovers U23s

Ellis Simms' late goal proves decisive for the reigning Premier League 2 champions

16 September 2019

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Ellis Simms' late strike proved the difference as Rovers suffered a narrow defeat to reigning Premier League 2 champions Everton at Goodison Park.

The substitute had only been on the pitch for nine minutes before his match-winner, which was calmly tucked beyond Joe Hilton in the final quarter of an hour.

Joe Rankin-Costello's smart finish equalised for Rovers just moments after the break following Lewis Gibson's opener midway through the first half.

Rovers had their chances to level late on, most notably through Jack Vale and Harry Chapman, but an encouraging display wasn't enough to take anything back to East Lancashire.

Billy Barr named three changes to the team from the one that started against Accrington Stanley in the Lancashire Senior Cup a week earlier.

Ryan Nyambe, Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel all missed out, with Sam Barnes, Jacob Davenport and Vale replacing the trio.

The game repesented a first outing for Davenport since picking up a knee injury in pre-season, whilst Vale returned after a minor knock kept him out on any involvement for Wales Under-21s in the recent international break.

A lively start saw chances arrive for both sides, with Joe Hilton saving well with his feet from Anthony Gordon's strike, before both Joe Grayson and then Davenport fired over at the other end.

Soon after the hosts hit the post when skipper Morgan Feeney glanced a header against the woodwork from Anthony Evans' menacing corner.

But midway through the half the Toffees did take the lead, with the goal coming from another Evans free kick. The ball in from the midfielder was perfect for Gibson, who was at the back post to knock beyond Hilton and into the bottom corner.

Gordon flashed a header over the upright as David Unsworth's side looked to double their advantage before the break.

With seconds of the half remaining, Alex Denny saw his curled effort held by Hilton as the home team's slender advantage was taken into half time.

Whatever Barr said to his charges at the break certainly appeared to work as Rovers bagged an equaliser just three minutes into the second half.

Harry Chapman's corner was put into a great area and Rankin-Costello controlled brilliantly before swiveling and firing into the bottom corner with his left foot.

Everton's Evans was looking their brightest spark, and he clattered the base of the post just prior to the hour before Dennis Adeniran curled wide of Hilton's left-hand post.

It was an end-to-end encounter on Merseyside, and Vale flicked just wide with 17 minutes remaining after getting on the end of a looping Sam Hart cross.

But soon after Everton regained the lead with the impressive Gordon this time the architect.

The forward threaded a pass through to substitute Simms, who went one on one with Hilton before calmly slotting past the Rovers man and into the corner.

The visitors didn't give up hope, with Chapman firing over a Stefan Mols cross from the left with only four minutes remaining.

Simms cracked the post in added time in the final chance of an entertaining spectacle at a chilly Goodison.

Everton U23s: Tyrer, Denny (Mampala, 56), Foulds, Baningime, Feeney (c) (Astley, 75), Gibson (Simms, 67), Adeniran, Charsley, Gordon, Markelo, Evans.

Unused substitutes: Barrett, Iversen.

Goal: Gibson, 22, Simms, 76.

Booked: Baningime, 35, Markelo, 90.

Rovers: Hilton, Doyle, Barnes, Grayson (c), Hart, Lyons (Whitehall, 77), Davenport (White, 59), Rankin-Costello, Mols, Chapman, Vale.

Unused substitutes: Eastham, Thompson, Brennan.

Goal: Rankin-Costello, 48.

Booked: Davenport, 28.

Referee: Karl Evans.

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