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Post-Match Report

Match report: Blackburn 1-3 Arsenal U-23s

Balogun

Blackburn U23 -

Leyland County Ground
Premier League 2 - Division One
Premier League 2 - Division One
  Blackburn U23
      
              Mols (27)
          
   crest
Blackburn U23
Mols (27)
1 3
  Arsenal U23
      
                  Balogun (30 pen
                   84 pen
                   90 pen)
            
   crest
Arsenal U23
Balogun (30 pen
84 pen
90 pen)

WHAT HAPPENED 

Folarin Balogun hit a hat-trick of penalties in our opening fixture of the Premier League 2 season on Monday night, as we ran out 3-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers.

Rob Holding played 63 minutes as he continues to regain match fitness, while Emile Smith Rowe made his first start since returning from injury.

With that in mind, there were plenty of positives ahead of kick-off - but it was the hosts who opened the scoring when Stefan Mols raced behind our defence and coolly slotted into the bottom corner.

However, their lead would last all of three minutes, as Balogun forced a foul from Louie Annesley inside the penalty area, leaving the referee with no other choice than to point to the spot. The 18-year-old’s initial effort was saved, but he made no mistake with the follow up. 

Shortly after the break James Hillson produced a stunning diving save to deny Jack Vale from close range, before Zak Swanson failed to apply the finishing touch to a promising attack.

The Rovers defence had given a good account of themselves throughout the evening, making a number of last-ditch tackles and vital interceptions - but in the end our pace and movement proved decisive, as Balogun and Trae Coyle won two penalties in the final 10 minutes. 

Balogun stepped up for both and showed great composure to complete his first hat-trick at under-23 level.

WHAT’S NEXT 

Steve Bould’s side are set to face Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday, August 16. 

The game will take place at Meadow Park with kick-off at 7pm (UK time). 

Interview

‘It was huge for Emile to score here’

Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe continued his recovery from injury on Friday night as he played 62 minutes in our 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League 2.

The young midfielder looked sharp on the ball and capped off his performance with a fine goal, dribbling past three players on the edge of the area, before firing a snapshot into the top left corner.

We spoke to Steve Bould after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on how he saw the victory…
Not that great to be honest. I thought in the first half Brighton were better than us and there were one or two words said in the dressing room that you don’t really want to say at times, but the second half was much, much better and we looked more urgent. We were running about a little bit more and moving the ball a little quicker. We had a lot of chances in the second half, so it was just disappointing in the first half. I know we were against the wind and it wasn’t easy at all, but we didn’t move the ball quick enough and we were doing it with too many touches. To be fair to Brighton, they’re a good side so in the end it was a good result for us.

on his attacking line-up…
Well, sometimes it’s what you’re given. It’s what the first team give us, or don’t give us. Sometimes our players will dictate how we play, so it was a bit attacking and we struggled to get out a little bit. In the second half with the wind we were much, much better and played with more urgency. When Jordan came on we changed the system and looked better on the ball. The disappointment for me is that we allowed them to score in the last three or four minutes. A clean sheet even at this level is always welcome.

on the importance of building momentum at this stage of the season…
It’s great and I’ll say this a thousand times, winning isn’t the be all and end all at this level. But it’s great to win because it’s a great habit and it’s something they have to know as a professional footballer. We’re in a winning business. The biggest disappointment over the last two games has been the performance. We’re much better than we’re showing at the minute and we’re hoping during the season that those performances pick up.

on Smith Rowe scoring and building up his fitness…
It’s huge for him. He played 45 minutes in the first game and got to 60 today, and we were always going to take him off, so it was great that he scored just before he came off. He’s building up his fitness and as far as we know he’s having no problems with his old injury, so it’s a major plus for everybody.

on whether he’s enjoyed being back in the dugout as head coach…
Yeah, I’m loving it. I know I don’t look like I’m loving it sometimes, but I think that’s just always the case! I’m enjoying coaching, planning and working with the kids. They’re good kids.