A strong Reds team had no problems brushing aside Blackburn in the Lancashire Senior Cup in a battle of the two tenants at Leigh Sports Village. United gave starts to Adnan Januzaj, Ander Herrera and Anders Lindegaard was well as Jonny Evans, whose appearance saw him beginning the road back from injury, and were a class above Rovers throughout.
Although United started more brightly, Lindegaard was forced to save well in the eighth minute when Green broke free and hit a rasping shot towards the keeper’s top left corner. Despite that early scare, it was no surprise when the Reds took the lead after fifteen minutes. Januzaj’s defence-splitting pass carved open the oppostion with ease, finding Janko, whose low cross was comfortably tapped in by Will Keane.
Janko was a consistent threat on the right and, when he cut inside towards the Blackburn area and was brought down, the ensuing free kick brought United’s second goal. Januzaj cleverly cut the ball back for Herrera to strike home through the crowded penalty area. Januzaj almost got on the scoresheet himself ten minutes before the break when his shot from distance was palmed away by Crump. Minutes later, the keeper had to be on his toes again to keep out a curler from Herrera.
Goal number three wasn’t long in coming, however. Three minutes from the interval, Andreas Pereira picked the ball up in the middle of the park and kept going, before unleashing a shot from the edge of the box that found its target. Soon after, Herrera instigated a move that ended with Keane having his shot saved at the near post; just before half-time, another long-range shot, this time from Ben Pearson,was beaten away for yet another Reds corner.
The fourth goal arrived just after the break. When Will Keane’s shot was blocked, Joe Rothwell, on for the injured Josh Harrop, made no mistake from the rebound. Despite the scoreline, Blackburn showed some willingness to make a game of it in the second half and Lindegaard was called upon to make a sharp save from a free kick before a cross flashed across his goal without finding a Rovers boot. Their efforts left space for United to exploit, however, and Pearson again went close on the hour mark, his fierce shot taking a deflection that sent it into the side netting. As the threat, such as it was, faded, United resumed control and threw numbers forward again. Rothwell grabbed his second just before the eighty minutes mark when a slick passing moved ended with Pearson setting him up to guide the ball home from the edge of the box.
The only negatives on the night were a couple of injuries, the first to Harrop in the first half and the second to Thorpe, who limped off shortly after the fifth goal went in with what looked a nasty foot injury. Given the defensive reshuffles United have had to carry out this season, it’s astonishing Thorpe hasn’t had more opportunities with the first team and this latest misfortune may well slow down his anticipated progress even further.
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