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Match Reports

Pre-Season Report: Fleetwood 1 Rovers 4

Adam Armstrong scored twice, as Rovers got their pre-season preparations underway in style

22 August 2020

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Adam Armstrong continued his red-hot streak in front of goal, as Rovers kicked off their pre-season preparations with a 4-1 win away to Fleetwood Town.

Armstrong, who netted 17 times last season, was quick to pick up where he left off, firing home just 45 seconds after his half-time introduction at Highbury Stadium, before grabbing a second midway through the second half.

Rovers had started the game well, but fell behind on 14 minutes when Ched Evans converted from a corner.

Tony Mowbray’s men ought to have been level on 19 minutes, but Ben Brereton saw his penalty saved by Joel Coleman after Ryan Nyambe had been brought down in the box.

The equaliser arrived on 26 minutes when Harry Chapman surged forward, before finding the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

Jacob Davenport prevented Evans from scoring his second of the game with a goal-line clearance and Rovers took the lead less than a minute after the interval, as Armstrong converted Tyrhys Dolan’s excellent cross.

Armstrong netted his second and Rovers’ third on 67 minutes, taking advantage of Coleman’s heavy touch to poke the ball into the back of the net.

He was denied a hat-trick just moments later by a superb Coleman save after latching onto a ball over the top.

But Rovers did add a fourth before the finish, as substitute Luke Brennan, who signed a pro deal in the summer, scored with his first touch.

Rovers named two different starting XIs in each half, with Scott Wharton back in a blue-and-white halves following his successful loan spell at Northampton in the first period, partnering Darragh Lenihan at the heart of the defence.

And it was the young centre-back who had the game’s first clear-cut chance inside 10 minutes, but he couldn’t direct his header from John Buckley’s free-kick on target.

A minute later, Buckley went to ground in the box following a positive burst forward by Chapman, but his penalty appeals were waved away.

Rovers threatened again when Buckley’s ball across the face of goal was just out of Chapman’s reach, but the hosts opened the scoring against the run of play on 14 minutes when Paul Coutts’ corner was volleyed goalwards by Danny Andrew and Evans headed home from 10 yards out.

It was almost 1-1 four minutes later, as Chapman played in Brereton, but Coleman made a smart save with his legs. Rovers had an even better opportunity to draw level a minute later, as Nyambe was tripped by Andrew in the area, but Brereton saw his spot-kick saved by Coleman.

On 26 minutes, Rovers were deservedly back on level terms when Chapman drove at the Fleetwood defence, before picking out the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.

Fleetwood came close to regaining the lead on 37 minutes when Evans got his shot away inside the box, but Davenport somehow managed to clear the ball off the line. A minute later, Andy Fisher gave the ball straight to Wes Burns, but he was unable to direct his shot into the unguarded net.

A new XI came out for the second half, with Corry Evans and Derrick Williams returning from injury, young goalkeeper Jordan Eastham getting a first outing at senior level and summer signing Dolan supporting last season’s Player of the Year Armstrong in attack.

And less than 50 seconds after the restart, the diminutive duo combined to fire Rovers in front. Dolan picked up possession on the right and after breaking forward, he delivered a sumptuous cross, which Armstrong swept home with a fine first-time shot.

Eastham was called into action on 50 minutes, diving full stretch to his right to palm Barry Baggley’s drive around the post.

The hosts threatened again on 63 minutes when Andrew crossed from the left and Paddy Madden’s volley went inches wide.

Straight up the other end, Armstrong teed up Joe Rothwell, who fired straight at Coleman from just inside the area.

Rovers’ third arrived in fortuitous circumstances on 67 minutes when Coleman’s miscontrol allowed Armstrong with the simple task of tapping home and he could have completed his hat-trick just a few minutes later, after breaking the offside trap, but the Fleetwood keeper made a superb save to deflect his shot over the bar.

The twinkle-toed Dolan came close to a Rovers fourth on 74 minutes, twisting and turning in the area, before seeing his shot saved.

On 76 minutes, Brennan was brought on for Rothwell, who picked up a slight knock, and the young winger scored with his first touch. After good work by Elliott Bennett down the left, Evans teed up Brennan, whose shot squirmed through the legs of Coleman and trickled over the line.

The four goals, including two for Armstrong, valuable match minutes for the majority of the senior squad, as well as some eye-catching cameos from Rovers' rising stars would all have been particularly pleasing for Mowbray in their first pre-season outing.

Up next for Rovers is a return to the Fylde Coast on Tuesday night for a friendly against Blackpool, kick-off 7pm.

FLEETWOOD: Coleman, Trialist, Andrew, Boyes, Holgate, Burns, Evans, Camps, Baggley, Coutts (c), Madden.

Subs: Cairns, Biggins, Trialist, Hill, Rydel, Trialist, Trialist, Saunders, Matete, Morris.

Goal: Evans (14)

ROVERS 1ST HALF: Fisher, Nyambe, Lenihan (c), Wharton, Bell, Davenport, Travis, Buckley, Chapman, Holtby, Brereton.

Subs: Hilton, Pike, Grayson, Brennan.

Goal: Chapman (26)

ROVERS 2ND HALF: Eastham, Rankin-Costello, Carter, Williams, Bennett (c), Evans, Johnson, Lyons, Rothwell (Brennan 76), Dolan, Armstrong.

Subs: Hilton, Pike, Grayson.

Goals: Armstrong (46, 67), Brennan (78)

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