A YOUNG Rovers side recorded a narrow 1-0 victory after a tight pre-season encounter against Stockport County at Edgeley Park tonight.

Zak Gilsenan got the decisive goal during the second half, slotting home from the penalty spot.

Jon Dahl Tomasson named a young side, although the likes of Scott Wharton and John Buckley were included.

Adam Wharton also got the nod. The promising youngster had been sidelined with a muscle problem and also missed last weekend’s fixtures through illness.

Despite his time on the sidelines, the midfielder was keen to get on the ball during the opening stages and nearly managed to play Gilsenan through, but Jordan Smith reacted quickly to rush out of his goal and cleared the danger.

Connor Evans then tried his luck from distance. His strike took a nick off a defender but Aynsley Pears kept hold of it.

Tomasson’s men enjoyed plenty of the ball in the first half but struggled to break down the hosts, who looked dangerous on the break at times.

Tanto Olaofe had a shot blocked by Sam Barnes, who was making only his second start since returning from an ACL injury.

But Barnes nearly made a costly error moments later when a Stockport forward pounced on his weak backpass. Evans failed to take advantage in the box and Rovers eventually managed to clear their lines.

Midway through the first half, the hosts had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Matthew Corlett after the ball struck a defender in the box.

A Stockport trialist then tried his luck with a free-kick form 25 yards but his strike sailed over the bar.

Rovers had a slight scare when Pears spilled a corner, but it came to nothing to the goalkeeper’s relief.

Tomasson’s men started to have a bit more joy in the final third towards the end of the half, with Jake Batty sending a low drive wide of the post from outside the box.

Batty then forced Smith into a smart stop from a tight angle after a bursting run down the left flank.

Stockport had a chance to open the scoring on the stroke of half time when Olaofe managed to get in behind the backline, but Pears stood tall and made a good stop.

The shot stopper also parried Madden’s strike around the post before managing to get something behind Evans’ cut-back from the bye-line just before the half-time whistle.

After the break, Ryan Croasdale sent a thumping strike just over the bar after Rovers had dealt with an initial corner.

Pears then made a decent stop low to his right from another Evans strike from distance. He also managed to get back up quickly and prevent a corner.

Just before the hour mark, the goalkeeper denied a Stockport trialist at his near post. Evans had a free header at the far post from the resulting corner but failed to hit the target.

Olaofe then managed to beat the offside trap and latch onto a lovely ball by Madden. His low cross was inches away from Croasdale but Scott Wharton managed to get the slightest of touches on it.

Madden also had a huge chance to break the deadlock but somehow poked wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.

He was made to pay when Rovers took the lead 20 minutes from time. Batty was hauled down in the box and Gilsenan kept his cool to send Smith the wrong way from the spot.

James Edmondson then had a big opportunity to double the lead after a scuffed kick by the Stockport goalkeeper but he dragged an effort wide on his wrong foot.

Adam Wharton was replaced by Harley O’Grady-Macken with 15 minutes to go, ending a positive workout on his return to action.

The hosts seemed to tire during the latter stages and Rovers’ pressing began to force errors in the opposition half. Gilsenan won the ball back high up the pitch and had Smith beaten with a curling effort, but the ball cannoned back off the foot of the post.

Inside the final five minutes, Tom Bloxham sent a header wide at the far post before Dallas Omoruyi lashed over after an error at the back.

There were eight minutes added before the final whistle, in addition to five extra minutes in the first half, with the new EFL immediately coming into effect ahead of the new campaign.

Tomasson’s men conclude their pre-season schedule tomorrow afternoon when they welcome Girona to Ewood Park (3pm).

Rovers: Pears, Brittain, Barnes (Gamble 63), S Wharton, Batty, Gilsenan, Garrett, Buckley (Weston 67), A Wharton (O’Grady-Macken 75), Edmondson, Bloxham. Subs not used: Eastham, Hilton, Atcheson, Davies, Montgomery, Wood.

Referee: Matthew Corlett.

Attendance: 2,416 (878 Rovers).