Rovers back to winning ways in the league
By Gary Brigden
The first team bounced back from four winless Combined Counties league games on Saturday, with a hard fought 3-0 win over a very good Southall side, in a windswept match at Gander Green Lane.
The early stages saw both sides struggle to come to terms with the conditions, which favoured the visitors in the first half, and all to frequently passes from both sides went astray. It was the visitors who went closest to opening the scoring on eight minutes when the ball was threaded through to Oladimeji Olajubo but he fired just wide of the left hand post.
Ollie Ellaway did well on 15 minutes clawing away a loopy wind assisted cross from the left, just ahead of the advancing Gary Senior, and on 19 minutes a great ball by Peter Dean, who was the standout player in the first half was headed goalwards by Olajubo but comfortably saved by Ellaway. At the other end Ollie Twum got beyond Louis Dailey but his ball to Daryl Cooper-Smith was well defended by Southall's Lorissa Dampha.
Midway through the half and a long ball over the top to Twum saw him clattered outside the area by Rory Mullane, earning the keeper a booking, which would come back to haunt him later in the game.
Kyle Henry did well on 26 minutes and his deep cross found Twum but his volley was comfortably saved low to his right by Mullane. Almost immediately neat work in the middle of the park by Jack Roper and Darreon Mark saw the ball find its way to Dean and his ambitious shot from distance forced Ellaway into a scrambling save away to his right. From the corner Mark put his header well wide.
On the half hour good work by Dailey saw Ellaway punch his cross clear, but only to Dean who put his shot wide of the left hand post. Rovers almost took the lead on 33 minutes, a tremendous ball down the line by the available again Craig Nelson found Henry, his low cross was fired goalwards by Twum but blocked superbly by Dailey.
Five minutes before the break and Southall had an opportunity to score, a ball down the line to Olajubo found him one on one with Guy Baskerville, and with a man over, credit the SCR man who showed maturity beyond his years not to rush the ball, and allowed players time to get back and defend, we gave the ball away again and Ellaway did well to deny Mark from close range. Half time came with the game level.
Jack Bennett fired against the left hand post in the opening minute of the second half, and from the goal kick a huge clearance by Ellaway set Henry away, but he was denied by a good save by Mullane.
Southall made a change on 48 minutes replacing Wade Burton with Damel Dioum, and we made our first change on 52 minutes with Adam Allen making way for Phil Page. It almost provided an instant breakthrough with Cooper-Smith finding Page but Dailey got across to make a clearing challenge.
On the hour a mistake by Dampha allowed Page in on goal, but Mullane managed to make a great tackle to clear the ball for a corner, and from Henry's delivery Cooper-Smith headed over the bar.
Rovers went close from a corner just after the hour, but a quick break by Southall saw Bennett find Dean, but his low shot was well saved by Ellaway.
Rovers were starting to get on top, and were agonisingly close to opening the scoring on 65 minutes, great work by Malachi Robinson saw him drill over a low cross from the left, which was inches in front of both Page and Henry.
Both sides made their second changes on 70 minutes with Henry making way for Alberto Lubango for Rovers, and the influential Dean leaving proceedings for Aaron McLeish.
Lubango almost opened the scoring with his first touch, more tremendous work by Twum saw him get beyond Dailey, and his low cross found Lubango who was unable to find the target with his effort.
Rovers made the breakthrough on 74 minutes, Twum again outpaced Dailey on the right, and faced with Mullane he drilled his effort low beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner to give Rovers the advantage.
Rovers were now firing on all cylinders, and a Page ball on 76 minutes found Lubango who was just unable to set up Cooper-Smith. It was 2-0 on 78 minutes, Twum's low cross was heading towards Lubango, who was bundled over at the back post. Cooper-Smith stepped up and fired the spot kick beyond Mullane. It was his last action as he made way for Mason Seagroatt.
Twum and Page linked up well on 83 minutes, with Page cutting inside Dailey, and his fizzed shot was well saved by Mullane away to his left. Southall made their final change on 84 minutes with Olajubu making way for Claudio Owusu.
Senior was denied by a tremendous block by Baskerville on 88 minutes before Rovers rounded off the scoring in stoppage time. A corner was cleared into the air, Seagroatt challenged for the ball but was barged into by Bennett for a second penalty. Mullane was given a second yellow for his protests, and Page smashed home the spot kick.
Next up for Rovers is Saturday's trip to Walton & Hersham and a league cup quarter final tie against Hanworth Villa on the 18th March.