The Rovers broke new ground when, after just a week of training, they opened their pre-season with a game against Cleethorpes Town of the Northern Counties East League at Cleethorpes in front of a record crowd of 752 that will do the Cleethorpes club coffers a world of good.
The first half Rovers eleven included two new signings, two of the members of last season’s Youth team, who have been signed on professional forms and one trialist. The Rovers started well by going straight on to the attack. Brown headed wide from a cross by Cotterill on the right and Bennett was put away down the left by Morgan-Smith and cut inside before firing wide of the near post.
However, in the sixth minute the Rovers took the lead when Cotterill, on the right, put in a low cross to the near post where goalkeeper Fenty failed to hold it and spilled it into BROWN’s path for him to stab into the net. But the home team were not fazed by this and in the next ten minutes won a couple of corners, Flett fired over the bar from 25yards and a good run down the home left by Mascall was spoilt when his cross was easily caught by Gary Woods in the Rovers goal.
The Rovers then settled down and began to move the ball from man to man leading to a cross by Cotterill that Syers headed wide. Friend then surged forward on the half hour and hit a fine drive from 30yards that sailed over the bar. As time ran down to the break a good run by Barrett down the home left finished with him firing wide then, with two minutes to go, Mascall ran about sixty yards through the middle before firing over.
Changes were made in the Rovers ranks for the second half and again they started well bringing two fine saves from substitute Drury in the home goal. Then five minutes in and a handball in the penalty area by Cawley was penalised by the referee pointing immediately to the penalty. BALL picked the ball up, placed it on the spot and hammered past the keeper to put the Rovers two-up.
Seven minutes later and Mascall was played in on goal with only Maxted to beat but the keeper made a fine save to his left as the Town man tried to shoot past him. The home team tried hard to get something out of the game, with substitutes coming and going but the Rovers were pretty well in command, with Martin Woods and Keegan controlling midfield. Twenty minutes from time assistant-manager Brian Carey came on for Friend and made his presence felt on the opposition.
The Rovers played some good football in this half and one such move led to manager SAUNDERS getting on the scoresheet in the 89th minute with a tremendous drive from 15yards after Ball pulled the ball back from the left byline. A minute later and a great link-up by McCormick, who put the ball down the right to Baxendale and a flick on for BALL to end the move by shooting into the net.
Immediately on the restart Cleethorpes went down the right where Hanslip put over a cross to the far post. McCormick’s header was meant for the keeper but it hit the inside of the post and inadvertently bounced off MAXTED into the net. Then, almost unbelievably, the home team added another a couple of minutes later when HANSLIP fired in after playing a one-two with a team mate.
Unfortunately Sawyer, of Cleethorpes Town was sent off in the fourth minute of added time for an off-the-ball-incident on Baxendale in front of a linesman. Other than this it had been a hard fought game played in a good spirit and the workout was good for the Rovers lads.
Teams – Cleethorpes Town starting line-up – Miles Fenty (Scott Drury 46 mins); Tim Lowe, Richard Peck, Simon Ballard, Daniel Barrett; Jonathan Oglesby, Steve Cooper, Darren Hanslip, Alex Flett, Luke Mascall; Mark Cooper.
Various substitutes came on during the second half
Rovers – Gary Woods (Jon Maxted 46 mins); Jake McCormick, Liam Wakefield, George Friend (Brian Carey 70 mins), James Husband (Dean Saunders 81 mins); David Cotterill (James Baxendale 46 mins), David Syers (Martin Woods 46 mins), Brian Stock (Paul Keegan 46 mins), Amari Morgan-Smith (Paddy Mullen 46 mins); Kyle Bennett (Greg McDermott 46 mins), Chris Brown (Jordan Ball 46 mins)