Sam Burns scored a superb hat-trick as Rovers Under-23s defeated Carlisle United 4-0 in a pre-season friendly at Brockhall.
The 18-year-old striker netted twice inside the opening quarter of an hour with two carbon copy finishes, before completing his hat-trick with a fine looping header late on.
The game provided defender Scott Wharton and midfielder Jacob Davenport with an opportunity to get 90 minutes under their belt, whilst new signing Connor McBride, who arrived from Celtic last week, got his first run-out in Rovers’ colours.
Rovers made a strong start and opened the scoring with a really well-worked goal with less than six minutes on the clock. Dan Pike freed Luke Brennan down the right and his centre was converted by Burns from close range.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead moments later as Brennan delivered a corner from the left, but Wharton’s towering header crashed against the post.
Rovers’ second goal did arrive on 14 minutes. Following a quickly-taken throw, Davenport found Brennan, who beat his man down the right and his cut-back from the byline was swept home by Burns, inside the keeper’s near post.
A third almost arrived minutes later, but Isaac Whitehall saw his shot saved and Pike’s back post header was cleared off the line.
Rovers continued to dominate after the break and made it 3-0 midway through the second half. More good football from the hosts saw Davenport find substitute Stefan Mols, who broke into the box and saw his shot saved, but Brennan was on hand to slot home the follow-up.
Carlisle came close to pulling a goal back with two long-range strikes that whistled just past Jordan Eastham’s upright, before Rovers scored their fourth of the game on 81 minutes. Jalil Saadi sent a ball into the box and Burns timed his run to perfection, before planting a lovely looping header over the Carlisle keeper and into the net for his hat-trick.
Rovers created a couple more chances before the 90 minutes was up, as Lewis Thompson’s left-foot drive was a whisker wide of finding the far corner and Pike had another back post header saved on the line.
It was an impressive performance from Billy Barr’s young side, who have one final friendly to play before they kick-off their Premier League 2 campaign at home to Manchester City on Friday September 18th.
ROVERS: Eastham, Pike, Saadi, Wharton, Thompson, Whitehall (Mols 46), Davenport, Lyons, Brennan, McBride (Paton 61), Burns.
Subs not used: Annesley.
Goals: Burns (6, 14, 81), Brennan (65)