Joe Nuttall Blackburn Rovers

U23: Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Reading

Report by Ryan Smart (UCLan)
Premier League 2: Division Two
Friday 9th February, The County Ground (Lancashire FA HQ)
Goalscorers: Butterworth (51), Nuttall (73)

Second half goals from Danny Butterworth and Joe Nuttall were enough to hand Rovers a comfortable victory over Reading.

The victory extends Damien Johnson’s side’s unbeaten run to 12 games, increasing their lead at the top of the Premier League 2 Division Two to four points. 

Butterworth’s goal came six minutes after the interval, his deflected effort looping over Reading ‘keeper Liam Driscoll.

Nuttall’s goal was more fortunate after a clearance from Driscoll hit the forward in the chest, the ball ending up in the back of the net.

There was even more positive news for Blackburn, Darragh Lenihan completing 90 minutes as he continues his recovery from a broken metatarsal. 

The visitors saw the majority of the ball in the early stages, playing out from the back with Blackburn looking to close them down.

Reading had the first shot on target on three minutes, a low cross was not cleared by Blackburn and Ben House’s effort went wide of the post from inside the box.

Rovers had an excellent chance to score two minutes later, John Buckley beating a number of defenders before shooting from inside the box but his effort, along with his and Nuttall’s follow up, were blocked by the Reading defence.

The ball fell to Charley Doyle but his 25-yard drive went over the bar.

Both sides continued to have their fair share of openings, Reading’s Tyler Frost seeing his effort from the right hand side of the box hit the side netting.

He followed that up with a mazy run into the box just a minute later, beating a number of Blackburn defenders before his effort was blocked for a corner.

The visitors continued to put pressure on, captain Gabriel Osho having a free header inside the box from a free kick but his effort was straight at ‘keeper Andy Fisher.

Blackburn had their best opportunities of the half when Chiori Johnson connected with a low cross from the left but his shot was well saved by Driscoll.

Driscoll then pulled off another excellent save from the resulting corner, this one almost a carbon copy of the last as he parried away Lenihan’s header.

The half ended with a brief scuffle after a tackle on Blackburn’s Lewis Hardcastle, Reading’s Teddy Howe and House seeing yellow as a result.

Second Half

Blackburn started the second half positively and scored the opener on 51 minutes, great work from Butterworth on the left of the box allowing him to get a shot away which looped over Driscoll and into the corner.

Reading almost instantly equalised, Frost’s left footed shot on 53 minutes from just outside the area fizzing narrowly wide.

Lenihan gave away a free kick on the edge of the box on 57 minutes after catching Frost, with Holsgrove’s resultant free kick wide of the right hand post.

The Irishman found himself at the other end of the pitch for Rovers on 68 minutes, his good work created a shooting chance but it was well saved. Nuttall had a follow up on the edge of the area but his effort was crucially blocked with only three defenders covering the goal line.

Joe Grayson took the corner, Charley Doyle rising highest to win the header but his attempt was tipped over the bar by Driscoll.

Nuttall extended Blackburn’s lead in slightly fortuitous circumstances on 73 minutes after Reading’s goalkeeper raced out to claim a defensive header.

He connected with the ball but his clearance hit the Blackburn striker and looped behind into the net to make it 2-0.

Despite Reading’s best efforts, they could not find a way back into the game, Johnson’s side taking home three vital points.

Blackburn U23s XI: Fisher, Lenihan, Evans, Doyle, Magloire, Grayson, Johnson (Simmonds 78), Hardcastle, Nuttall, Buckley, Butterworth (Vale 85)
Subs not used: Carter, Albinson, Mansell

Reading U23s: Driscoll, Howe, Osho, Holmes, Medford-Smith, East, Rollinson (Coleman 85), Holsgrove (Shokunbi 60), House, Frost, Loader
Subs not used: Green, Desbois, Odimayo