A wet afternoon greeted spectators to a friendly pre-season encounter between Knaresborough Town and a Blackburn Rovers XI made up of mainly Under 21 players, several of whom had been out on loan to other clubs to gain experience last season.
The match was keenly contested and looked likely to result in a home win until the final five minutes when Blackburn scored three times to run out winners by five goals to four. Both sides could be happy with the game as could the healthy crowd of 243 which was treated to some fine play.
Paul Hagreen saved an early effort from Hyuga Tanner but Danny Wright fired a shot which was dealt with by the Blackburn goalkeeper, Ryan Crump.
Despite Blackburn holding much of the early possession, it was the home side which went ahead in the 19th minute when Matt Duerden headed back across goal from Craig Radcliffe’s corner from the right, and Colin Heath was able to react the quickest to beat Crump.
Blackburn levelled in the 32nd minute when a left wing centre just evaded Nick Radcliffe and Tanner was able to head home.
Seven minutes later, Heath headed home Seb Carole’s cross from the right to put his side back ahead and in the 42nd minute he side-footed home his third after Hiliard Sarrao beat a man down the left before passing across goal to allow Heath the easiest of finishes.
In between those goals, the very-lively Tanner had a free kick saved by Hagreen, who dived to save at the feet of the same player just before the half time whistle.
Anthony O’Connor spurned a good chance for Blackburn just before they made seven substitutions which would eventually change the game.
The first of those substitutes, Sam Lavelle, headed in a centre from the left to make the score 3-2 in the 70th minute and a minute later, Modou Cham fired narrowly wide as the fresh impetus started to take effect.
Liam Gray’s effort was tipped wide by Crump and from the resulting corner, Graham Whitehead’s shot hit Tom Robinson and beat the goalkeeper for Knaresborough’s fourth goal.
Hagreen made a good save to deny Paulo Jorge, but having made another save in the 85th minute, he was powerless to stop Jordan Slew making it 4-3.
The play was now completely one way and Jordan Preston became the third of Blackburn’s substitutes to score when he ran in from the right against a tired defensive line.
That was in the 89th minute and the visitors took the lead in the 90th minute when Slew cut in again from the right and fired home.
A final disappointment, but a match that promised much for Knaresborough’s new season as the new faces started to gel and get to know each other alongside the stalwarts from the last campaign which ended so memorably with the Cup final success at Bradford City.
Knaresborough Town (3) 4 Blackburn Rovers XI (1) 5
Team: P.Hagreen; R.Mortimer (D.Wilson), M.Duerden (S.Cook), N.Radcliffe (T.Robinson), C.Radcliffe; S.Carole (G.Eustance), L.Gray, J.Bradley, D.Wright (B.Littlefair); C.Heath (G.Whitehead), H.Sarrao.
Blackburn team: Ryan Crump; Jake Adelson, Jack Doyle, Kellen Daly, Anthony O’Connor, Jordan Knight, Devarn Green, Hyuga Tanner, Dean Rittenberg, Bradley Bauress, Connor Mahoney. Subs. (all used from 60 minutes): Sam Lavelle, Lenny Wilson, Paulo Jorge, Modou Cham, Jordan Slew, Jordan Preston, Luke Wall, David Carson.