A strong Rovers Under-23s side defeated David Dunn’s Barrow 4-0 in a behind closed doors friendly this afternoon.
Goals from Amari’i Bell, John Buckley, Ben Brereton and Joe Rankin-Costello secured the win for the hosts in the Brockhall sunshine.
Following the cancellation of the first team friendly against Everton, the game against the League Two newcomers provided the perfect opportunity for manager Tony Mowbray to get more match minutes into the legs of his senior squad.
There were 10 changes to the team that defeated Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in the first round of the Carabao Cup at the weekend, with Bell the sole survivor and the left-back opened the scoring inside three minutes.
Elliott Bennett found Joe Rothwell, who threaded the ball through to Bell, who beat the offside trap and ran through to slot the ball under the Barrow keeper.
Jacob Davenport saw a shot tipped round the post and a John Buckley effort deflected wide, before Rovers came close to doubling their lead with a carbon copy, as Rothwell again played in Bell, but after cutting inside onto his right foot, he blazed over the bar.
The home side made a couple of changes at the break, with Brereton replacing Bell and Tyler Magloire coming on for Hayden Carter and Rovers added a second goal 10 minutes after the restart.
Following a sustained spell of pressure, which including some dazzling skills from Tyrhys Dolan, Barrow failed to clear their lines and Buckley slid in to score.
Davenport had another shot saved low to the keeper’s left, before Rovers again rang the changes on the hour mark, and one of the new introductions made an instant impact.
Harry Chapman collected a pin-point pass from Magloire, before cutting in from the left and seeing his shot saved, but Brereton was on hand to snap up the rebound – lifting the ball over the keeper before tapping into the empty net.
More changes followed and with it came Rovers’ fourth. On 69 minutes, Luke Brennan centred from the left into Rankin-Costello, who had his feet clipped in the box as he collected the cross. The 21-year-old, who netted his first senior goal in the weekend win against Doncaster, took the penalty himself and confidently fired it into the top right corner.
Rovers could have added to their tally in the final 20 minutes, as Lewis Travis curled a shot just wide, Brennan saw a shot saved and Rankin-Costello’s close-range effort was deflected over the bar, all in quick succession.
Brereton then delivered a peach of a cross for Chapman, who headed over, before the final chance fell to Brereton, whose crisp volley from Lewis Thompson’s deep cross was well saved.
ROVERS: Eastham, Nyambe (Pike 67), Carter (Magloire 46), Mulgrew (Wharton 60), Williams (Thompson 60), Bell (Brereton 46), Davenport (Johnson 67), Buckley (Rankin-Costello 67), Bennett (Travis 67), Rothwell (Chapman 60), Dolan (Brennan 60).