LEON Best made a welcome return from injury tonight in Blackburn Rovers reserves’ 2-1 win at home to Sunderland.
Rovers’ circa £3million summer signing has been out of action ever since injuring a cruciate knee ligament in pre-season, but played almost 70 minutes as he stepped up his bid for fitness as an Anton Forrester double helped Rovers secure victory.
Midfielder Dickson Etuhu and right back Adam Henley also made their returns from injury, both playing for an hour, boosting Michael Appleton’s squad options ahead of Rovers’ Championship play-off push.
It was Sunderland who took the lead on just eight minutes as Jordan Laidler’s 20-yard free-kick took a hefty deflection off the wall to wrong foot Greg Sandomierski in Rovers’ goal.
The visitors should have doubled their lead on 19 as Alex Gorrin fired just wide from close range, before Makael Mandron missed the target, with Rovers struggling to get into the game.
The hosts’ first real chance of the evening came on the half hour mark as Fabio Nunes cut into Sunderland’s box before pulling the ball back for Anton Forrester, but the striker dallied and his shot was blocked.
Best’s first chance of the game came on 39 as Nunes’ clever through ball saw him bearing down on goal but, after a good touch out of his feet, his strike was blocked by a retreating defender.
Rovers were level on 42 though as Forrester raced onto a clearance over the top of the Sunderland defence and kept his cool to finish low under goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
After the break, both sides struggled to create much with Nunes volleying wide for Rovers and Mandron heading wide for the visitors.
But with time ticking away Forrester scored his second to make it four goals in two reserve games since signing for the club from Everton.