Rovers lose their first pre-season game on English soil with a 3-1 loss to League Two side Carlisle United.
Rovers started the game with: Raya, Caddis, Nyambe, Ward, Williams, Smallwood, Evans, Bennett, Dack, Samuel, Graham (c). The notable absences were Mulgrew and Lenihan – which prompted many fans to assume that they will be leaving the club.
Carlisle began the game and only 3 minutes later, Rovers should’ve been 1-0 up. Caddis played the ball back to Dack, who gave it to Samuel – who ballooned the shot over into the terrace behind the net. Rovers continued attacking, with Samuel not connecting with a second shot 4 minutes later.
In the 12th minute, Rovers went behind. Nicky Adams cross dangerously across goal after Rovers didn’t close him down, and Ryan Nyambe turned the ball into his own net.
3 minutes later, Rovers thought they had equalised. Bennett crossed to Graham, who cushioned the ball into Dack’s path, who slotted away but the linesman had his flag up on the far side. However, in the 17th minute, Graham netted against his former employers. Evans threaded the ball through to Bennett, who crossed for Graham. His initial shot was blocked but the rebound found its’ way into the net – for the ex-Carlisle man to get his 5th goal of pre-season.
Both sides continued to have chances – Samuel had a header comfortably saved by the keeper for Rovers whilst Miller did the same for Carlisle. However, 41 minutes in, Hallam Hope found Devitt who had overlapped, he crossed it perfectly to Reggie Lambe who couldn’t miss to give Carlisle the lead.
Rovers went into the break 2-1 down and looking like they would struggle to score again. Rovers kicked off for the second half, and began strong, creating chances but with no end product. Samuel found Smallwood out wide and his ball in gave Rovers a corner – which came to nothing.
However, in the 57th minute, David Raya saved an almost certain goal. Hallam Hope fed Lambe through, who was cleverly denied by Raya.
Then, after 73 minutes, Feeney came the closest that Rovers did in the second half. Bennett squared it to Feeney, who was on the edge of the box, and he curled an effort first time against the bar.
10 minutes later, Bradley Dack should’ve equalised for Rovers. Samuel broke down the middle on the counter before finding Dack who poked it past the keeper, but also past the post.
Rovers were made to pay for their missed chances in the 1st minute of injury time. Shaun Miller exchanged a one-two with a trialist, dummied it and then powered it past Raya to give the Cumbrians a 3-1 win.
The full time whistle went and Rovers had been beaten.
Overall, Rovers looked poor and leggy. Nyambe looked really out of place at the back and this can’t happen in the league whilst Samuel had a touch that was too heavy – hopefully he is just a bit rusty!
Rovers will need to work on this before next week’s opening encounter away at Southend, as they will provide a stern test for us.
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