Knaresborough Town primed for Blackburn Rovers task

Knaresborough Town (pic submitted by Craig Dinsdale)
Knaresborough Town (pic submitted by Craig Dinsdale)

Former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers will stroll into Knaresborough on Saturday for a landmark pre-season friendly at Manse Lane.

Rovers will bring a team of players on the brink of the first team squad for a friendly clash against double cup winners Knaresborough Town.

Leeds United v Blackburn pore season friendly'Paul Robinson back at Elland Road for Blackburn

Leeds United v Blackburn pore season friendly'Paul Robinson back at Elland Road for Blackburn

Town have arranged a family fun-day to welcome the Championship side, with a barbecue and entertainment for the children.

Rovers’ goalkeeper and Knaresborough resident Paul Robinson has been instrumental in arranging Saturday’s friendly, after a conversation with Boro’s reserves boss Jeff Wells six months ago.

The former England number one will not feature in the match, but he said the Championship club would bring a strong squad of talented youngsters.

He said: “It’s a massive game for the club with a team the stature of Blackburn Rovers coming to play a game here.

“No matter what side from Blackburn Rovers come, it’s still Blackburn Rovers coming down here.

“Hopefully there will be a good crowd that comes down to enjoy it as well.”

Rovers won the then called Premiership in 1995 and were in the top tier until being relegated two seasons ago under controversial new owners the Venkys.

But, after a 14-game unbeaten run lifted them close to the play-off places last season, Robinson believes the Lancashire outfit can rise again this year.

He said: “We finished so well last year. I came back into the team and played the last 20 games and we went 14 unbeaten. We missed out on the play-offs by a point or two.

“The play-offs have to be our realistic aim this year if we are not looking to go up automatically.”

Town are not short of experience of playing on the big stage, after beating Eccleshill United to win the NCEL League Cup at Valley Parade last season.

Knaresborough boss Brian Davey has strengthened his NCEL League Cup winners over the off-season and hopes to introduce a minimum of seven players during Saturday’s contest.

Four players have joined assistant boss Rob Hunter from his former club Glasshoughton Welfare, including ex-Boro midfielder Joel Freeston and Venezuelan striker Hilliard Serraon.

Davey said: “We are going to play all the new lads. We have seen them training and seen how hard they work, but we now have to see them in games and see their quality.“

On the game, the gaffer added: “It’s great that teams like Blackburn, whatever side they send, come down here and give ourselves a chance. It’s a money earner essentially and it brings new people down to the club.

“If the crowd is right, and the lads put in a good performance, it will be a good test for us.

“It’s a game we couldn’t turn down.”