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Rovers 1 Accrington Stanley 2

23 April 2019

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Two goals in the first-half were Rovers undoing as they lost out to Accrington Stanley.

Strikes from Sean McConville and Paul Smyth saw the visitors take a two-goal lead into the break but, despite a lot of pressing in the second half, Rovers were only able to force one goal - Danny Andrew's late free-kick strike.

Manager Grant McCann made three changes from Good Friday's visit to Sunderland, with Tom Anderson, Ali Crawford and Alfie May coming in to replace Andy Butler, Ben Whiteman and James Coppinger.

The visitors made three changes themselves from their 3-0 defeat at home to Luton Town on Saturday, with former Rovers' youth academy goalkeeper Jonny Maxted called into the side to replace the suspended Dimitar Evtimov, with Paul Smyth and Ben Richards-Everton also coming in for Callum Johnson and Scott Brown.

Rovers started the brighter and had the game's first opportunity inside the opening three minutes , with Andrew's free-kick from the right-hand side of the penalty area being flicked over the bar by Ross Sykes.

Accrington grew into the match, with a succession of corners and free-kicks into the Rovers penalty area seeing both Billy Kee and Richards-Everton go close with headers, before Jordan Clark blazed a volley from distance over the bar.

They then took the lead after 17 minutes as a swift counter-attack was Rovers undoing. Smyth's burst down the right-hand side saw him get the better of Anderson and his cross was met by the unmarked McConville at the back post, and he volleyed into the back of the net to hand Stanley the advantage.

Tommy Rowe tried his best to get Rovers level as the game ticked towards the half-hour mark, with his trickery seeing him open up space, albeit on his weak foot, inside the Stanley penalty area, though Maxted was down well to deny the home captain.

McConville, buoyed by his opener, then should have doubled the lead little over a minute later as he connected with Clark's low ball across goal, only to shoot well wide of Marko Marosi's left post.

Mallik Wilks' cross in then gave Rovers a good chance to get on the scoresheet, with his ball being met at the back post by May who nodded down for John Marquis, but the striker's shot was blocked by a Stanley defender.
It would be a block that would prove to be crucial as just a minute later, the Stanley lead was doubled in superb fashion as Smyth chased a long ball forward and knocked it down before looping the ball brilliantly over Marosi to extend the visitor's advantage on the stroke of half time.

Rovers upped the ante after the interval, with Wilks shooting from the right-hand side with his left foot, however his low drive was just wide of the post.

Half-time substitute Kieran Sadlier was next to come close, with his strike from distance looking destined to ripple the back of the net, only for a Stanley deflection onto Maxted's crossbar and away.

Marquis' ambitious chest and volley a minute later would almost pay off too, with his powerful shot hitting the roof of the Stanley net, but Rovers looked dangerous as they went in search of pulling a goal back. Sadlier again went close to getting Rovers back into it as he hit another left-footed shot just over the bar.

A free-kick around 20 yards out was hit by Andrew into the corner via a deflection to give the hosts a glimmer of hope of getting back into the game late on.

That faint glimmer was almost realised as a long ball forward by Paul Downing was headed down towards Sadlier, but his half-volley agonisingly struck the base of a post in what was the last action of the game.
Rovers now must get back to winning ways when they travel south to face Oxford United in Sky Bet League One on Saturday.


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