NEW Blackburn boss Michael Appleton had his first look at some of his squad as he watched Rovers’ Under 21 side slip to a 3-0 defeat to Everton at Leigh Sports Village.
And while he would have been impressed at the tenacious way in which the young Blackburn side stuck to their task against Everton – of the starting 11 only Paulo Jorge and Jordan Slew had any senior experience – it was in the end a comprehensive victory for the Toffees.
With Gary Bowyer once again directing operations from the touchline, Rovers started well with Osayamen Osawe lifting a shot over the bar after good work from Jorge.
But while Rovers looked tidy on the ball in midfield, Everton carried the greater threat and it was no surprise when they took the lead on 25 minutes when Conor McAleny fired across Matthew Urwin into the far corner.
Rovers seemed content to find their opportunities on the break and their best chance of the half came when Ryan Edwards drove a free kick just wide.
It took just three minutes after the break, however, for Everton to reassert their authority when Francisco Junior calmly swept home.
It got worse for Bowyer’s side just five minutes later when they were undone by a goal of true Premier League quality.
Tyias Browning darted down the right hand flank and cut an inviting low cross back to the onrushing John Lundstram, who smashed the ball first time into the roof of the net.
Rovers were finding it tough going, with only a snapshot from substitute Jamie Maclaren on 66 minutes causing the Everton defence any concern, but they did fashion one clear-cut chance with five minutes to go.
Substitute Edinho Junior was felled in the box and picked himself up to take the penalty but his low effort was well saved by Jan Mucha as battling Rovers suffered defeat.
ROVERS: Urwin, Wylie, Beesley, Paulo Jorge, Edwards, O’Connell, O’Sullivan, (Hands 71) Payne, Slew (Maclaren 49), Evans, Osawe (Edinho 80). Subs not used: Dilo, Lenihan.