U23: BLACKBURN ROVERS 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Premier League Cup
Monday 26th February
The County Ground, Lancashire FA HQ (PR25 2LF)
Blackburn Rovers U23s secured top spot in their Premier League Cup draw following a goalless draw with Southampton.
Charlie Albinson made numerous excellent saves to deny the visitors, who had the better of the chances.
Blackburn’s best chance came via a Lewis Hardcastle penalty, but Southampton ‘keeper Jack Rose saved his low effort.
Rovers manager Damien Johnson named three under-16 players in his squad, with James Connolly starting and Isaac Whitehall and Sam Burns both making appearances from the bench.
The game got off to the worse possible start for Blackburn, Joe Grayson going down in the first minute with injury and being stretchered off, replaced by Whitehall.
After an injury to Southampton’s Yan Valery, resulting in the Frenchman being substituted, the match sparked into life past the 30 minute mark.
Michael Obafemi met a cross from Matthew Tella for the visitors on 32 minutes but his sliding effort was well saved by Albinson.
Albinson was called into action again soon after, making a fine stop from Obafemi who had found himself clean through in the centre of the box.
Blackburn had the better of the end of the half, a great run from Lewis Mansell allowing him to beat several defenders, but his shot was off target under heavy defensive pressure.
Mansell found himself at the centre of proceedings again just minutes later when he was brought down by Klarer in the box.
The resultant penalty was taken by Hardcastle but was well saved by Rose low to his left.
It was Hardcastle who had the first effort of the second half, his curling first time effort from the edge of the box tipped over by Rose on 50 minutes.
There was more bad news on the injury front for the home side five minutes later, Lewis Mansell limping off to be replaced by Burns.
Albinson was called into action on 62 minutes, positioning himself well to save a Tella effort.
He was almost left embarrassed on 67 minutes, a skewed clearance hitting Obafemi in the leg, but fortunately the ball fizzed wide of the left post.
He redeemed himself later on, making an excellent reaction save to deny Tella from 10 yards, before comfortably catching a speculative long range effort from substitute Tom O’Connor.
Will Smallbone then found space for the visitors inside the box but his effort was also saved.
Southampton continued to have chances as the game wore on, Obafemi seeing an effort blocked in stoppage time, but that proved to be the last kick of the game and Rovers held on for a point which sees them top the group with 10 points.
Blackburn XI: Albinson, Wood, Travis, Connolly (Magloire 89), Doyle, Grayson (Whitehall 4), Dolan, Hardcastle, Mansell (Burns 56), Whyte, Simmonds
Subs not used: Byrne
Southampton XI: Rose, Valery (O’Connor 31), Vokins, Rowthorn, Klarer, O’Driscoll, Mdlalose (Johnson 58), Slattery, Obafemi, Smallbone, Tella
Subs not used: Wood, Latham, Olomola
Referee: Mr T Bramall