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05 August 2023 Venue The Eco-Power Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 0 Harrogate Town 1

5 August 2023

The new season opened with a defeat for Rovers as a second half penalty gave Harrogate Town all three points.

Joseph Olowu was controversially judged to have fouled Abraham Odoh in the box and Jack Muldoon struck home the spot kick.

Seven of the summer’s ten new arrivals were handed starts by manager Grant McCann with Deji Sotona and Tyler Roberts coming off the bench in the second half.

After a rather scrappy start to the game, it was Rovers who had first sight of goal when Tommy Rowe nodded over the bar under considerable pressure after Joe Ironside headed a corner back across from the far post.

But it was the visitors who provided the first big chance. Rod McDonald sent Muldoon scurrying clear in the box with a well-weighted pass only for Ian Lawlor to come to Rovers’ rescue with a fine save. The Irish keeper, in an excellent personal performance, also held a follow-up effort from Sam Folarin.

Jack Senior produced a brilliant sliding challenge to prevent Folarin getting a clear sight of goal after being played in behind by Abraham Odoh.

Luke Molyneux pounced on a half-clearance and looked to loft the ball over Harrogate keeper Mark Oxley but watched it drop agonisingly wide.

Lawlor showed his alertness to punch out a corner that threatened to curl straight in under his bar before pushing away a follow-up from Dean Cornelius.

Ironside was millimetres away from putting Rovers ahead as he just failed to reach a low centre by Senior.

Olowu superbly denied Muldoon the chance to break clear into the box with a brilliant sliding challenge 20 yards out.

And there was last-gasp heroics at the other end soon after. Rowe danced into the box and the ball eventually fell to Jon Taylor, who looked to pick his spot only to be denied on the line with a brilliant block from Matty Foulds.

The visitors took the lead on 66 minutes when Olowu was harshly adjudged to have fouled Odoh inside the box. Muldoon stepped up and confidently fired home.

McCann sprung into action and sent on Sotona and Roberts for their debuts, with George Miller following soon after.

And Miller almost made an immediate impact as he raced to meet a Senior cross, only for Joe Mattock to get in just ahead of him for the visitors.

And Harrogate keeper Oxley produced a stunning fingertip save to keep out a header from Owen Bailey that was heading in.

Lawlor denied Harrogate substitute Matty Daly following a mazy run but it was Rovers who would push hardest as the game ticked into 14 minutes of time added on.

Rovers were denied a penalty of their own as Roberts tumbled in the box.

Sotona drew a simple save from Oxley after a surging run into space. And in the dying moments, Jamie Sterry sent the ball back across from a deep Roberts cross but no Rovers player could make the decisive contact.

Rovers: Lawlor, Sterry, Olowu, Wood, Senior, Broadbent, Bailey, Rowe (Roberts 68), Molyneux (Biggins 85), Ironside (Miller 71), Taylor (Sotona 68). Subs not used: Bottomley, Anderson, Maxwell.

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