Rovers’ pre-season got off to a winning start when they made the short trip to Rossington Main on Tuesday evening. An individual piece of magic from Alfie May gave Rovers an early lead, while a second half goal from Max Watters along with an own goal secured a comfortable 0-3 victory.
Rovers named a strong side for the first-half including summer signings Brad Halliday, Reece James and Madger Gomes.
Rossington registered the first effort on target within five minutes of the start. James conceded a foul around 25 yards out and the resulting free-kick was headed goalward. Ian Lawlor collected the ball easily in the Rovers goal.
Halliday was the first to go close for Rovers. A burst of pace took him beyond the Rossington Main midfield, and he let fly from the edge of the box. His low, driven effort was just wide.
Rovers began to build the pressure. James Coppinger picked the pocket of the Rossington centre-back and found John Marquis with a pass. The return pass was just short of its target but Coppinger was able to make the most of it, but his effort was blocked en route to goal.
May broke the deadlock with a sublime curling effort which sailed past Rossington – and former Rovers – ‘keeper Jan Budtz and into the top corner. The away team should have doubled their lead soon after. A great pass found John Marquis through on goal with just the ‘keeper to beat – he dragged the effort narrowly wide.
The next half-chance also fell Rovers’ way. Some sharp passing through midfield gave Matty Blair the smallest of openings from 20-yards out. He struck the ball well but there were too many bodies between him and the goal and the ball took an inevitable deflection wide.
A good ball over the top by the home team meant Jordan Buckham was able to break the offside trap to put himself one-on-one with an onrushing Lawlor. The Rossington number nine misjudged his attempted chip and the Irishman caught the ball easily.
A wayward strike by Joe Wright and another by John Marquis concluded the first-half action.
It was all change for the second half with eleven substitutes made. The second-half team included most of the U23s team along with first-team regulars Ali Crawford and Kieran Sadlier.
Rovers doubled their league immediately after the break. A Sadlier cross was turned in at the back post by a Rossington defender. Just moments later, Rovers extended their lead further when Watters fired low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The boys in red and white hoops were relentless in attack, creating chance after chance. The first fell to Danny Amos who had a great run to buy himself space to shoot – he struck it well but a big hand from Budtz denied him.
Rovers did turn the ball in for a fourth time, an Elliott Walker cross was finished nicely by Watters, but the striker was ruled offside.
Rossington’s best chance of the second half came just after the hour mark, when the home side’s number ten ran through and pulled a good effort wide.
At the other end, a reaction goal line clearance was the only thing preventing Will Longbottom from getting his name on the scoresheet with a clever backheel. Seconds later, Sadlier was denied - his thunderbolt strike produced an excellent save from Rossington’s replacement ‘keeper.
The ‘keeper was in the action again soon after producing another top class save this time to deny Crawford from distance.
With ten minutes left on the clock, the ‘keeper made another save to deny Watters, tipping his effort around the post. Shane Blaney got his head to the resulting corner, but his effort was cleared off the line by Buckham.