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Armthorpe Welfare 0 Rovers 9

11 July 2017

Liam Mandeville hit a hat-trick as Rovers opened their pre-season campaign in style at Armthorpe Welfare.

Boss Darren Ferguson used almost his entire first-team squad, with Mathieu Baudry, Craig Alcock and Alex Kiwomya sitting out as precautionary measures due to injury.


The match was preceded by a minute’s applause in memory of Bradley Lowery, the young Sunderland fan whose battle against cancer united football, after his recent death.


Rovers started brightly in the heavy rain, and had the ball in the net after five minutes through an Alfie May header - but an offside flag meant it did not count.


Early chances were not converted, with Tommy Rowe and Niall Mason both seeing efforts go over and May seeing another effort saved by the legs of home goalkeeper Dave Bramley.


Andy Williams twice went close before Rovers broke the deadlock after 29 minutes. Tommy Rowe headed home from close range after Andy Butler had flicked on a cross.


That goal did wonders for Rovers’ confidence, and two minutes later James Coppinger made it 2-0 with a crisp low shot into a bottom corner.


Coppinger doubled his tally for the evening inside 60 seconds of the restart, collecting a pull-back from Williams and slotting home to make it 3-0.


And a minute later Rovers had a four-goal advantage. Tyler Walker, looking to impress after signing a six-month contract this summer, put in a deep cross which Williams headed home at the far post.


That burst of goals put the result beyond doubt, but despite the best efforts of Alfie Beestin - who shot just wide at the near post - and Alfie May - who was again thwarted by a close-range save from Bramley - the score remained 4-0 at the interval.


Ferguson made nine changes for the second period, with only Joe Wright and Tyler Garratt remaining from the opening half.


An early own goal from the home side was disallowed, apparently for offside, with Ben Whitman marking his first Rovers appearance with an impressive goal from outside the area after 57 minutes. His effort left Adam Stevens, who took over in goal at the break for Welfare, with no chance.


The flurry of goals in the second period did not come quite as quickly as in the first, but Liam Mandeville notched the sixth of the game after 62 minutes.


He turned the ball home from close range after John Marquis, captaining the side for the second half, had seen his effort saved.


Left-Back Danny Andrew almost matched Whitman for the best goal of the game, with only a great save from Stevens denying his direct free-kick.


Marquis got the goal his work-rate deserved after 75 minutes, deftly flicking the ball home after a smart move with Gary McSheffrey.


Mandeville got his second of the evening moments later, rifling the ball home, before completing his hat-trick with six minutes to go when he was on hand after Marquis had hit a post with an effort which he had cooly lifted over Stevens.


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