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Reserves held by Arsenal

29 October 2012

Rovers Under-21s impress at Leigh Sports Village but have to settle for a goalless draw.

Rovers Under-21s picked up a well-earned point with an impressive display against Arsenal at Leigh Sports Village.

The game ended goalless but it wasn't for the want of trying in an entertaining encounter.

The first half saw chances shared evenly, Kris Olsson missing the best one for the visitors when it seemed easier to score, whilst John O'Sullivan and Kellen Daly were thwarted by saves from Reice Charles-Cook in the Arsenal goal.

The second half was mainly a one-sided affair as Rovers looked to make it back-to-back home wins, but try as they might that elusive goal wouldn't come. Charles-Cook denying O'Sullivan, Haley and Jamie Maclaren whilst Kellen Daly saw a header cleared off the line.

At the other end Jake Kean had a quieter evening but he had to be alert to deny Nigel Netia in added time.

Rovers went into the game looking to avenge their 3-0 loss to the Gunners back in August, but the way the visitors started it looked like it could be a long evening for Gary Bowyer's side.

Arsenal had plenty of opportunities early on, the majority of them stemming from Rovers errors. O'Sullivan passing the ball straight to Jon Toral but he fired straight at Kean, then a minute later, following a break upfield, Adam Henley couldn't control which allowed another shooting chance for Toral which Kean dealt with comfortably.

The chances continued for the visitors, Curtis Haley this time conceding possession cheaply to Nigel Netia but he fired wide, before a dangerous ball across the box saw Martin Angha shoot wide at the back post.

To their credit after weathering that early storm Rovers grew more into the game and eventually they were carving out chances of their own.

On 20 minutes a Hugo Fernandez free-kick struck the wall, the ball spinning to John O'Sullivan but Arsenal 'keeper Reice Charles-Cook saved at the second attempt.

Curtis Haley was denied by a great block from Zach Fagan before following Paulo Jorge's centre Kellen Daly headed goalwards but Charles-Cook claimed.

A Raheem Hanley throw-in merited better as Haley and Maclaren both failed to connect six yards out as the home side tried to maintain that attacking momentum.

After that spell of Rovers pressure it was Arsenal who would have the best chance of the half. A break down the right saw Angha cross and as Peter Wylie looked to clear the ball ran perfectly for Kris Olsson but he somehow fired wide with the goal at his mercy.

Rovers then had a shout for a penalty after Charles-Cook couldn't hold Raheem Hanley's excellent centre, Hugo Fernandez looked to take advantage but was pushed to the ground but Japanese referee Hiroyuki Kimura wasn't interested in the Spaniard's appeals.

The last chance of the first half again fell to a Rovers man as pressure from a corner kick saw the ball arrive with Jack O'Connell but the defender fired over the bar.

The second half wasted little time in providing excitement with both sides creating chances in the opening exchanges after the restart.

Just a minute in and John O'Sullivan delivered a ball from left to right where Jamie Maclaren arrived but he fired over at the back post.

Then Jake Kean was called upon to make an important save as Arsenal's neat approach play presented them with an excellent chance, Josh Rees finding space in the box to shoot only to be thwarted by the Rovers man.

Back up the other end play went with O'Sullivan again providing the ball into the box, Jamie Maclaren found space for a header but it was straight at the Arsenal 'keeper.

The chances continued for the home side, a neat corner routine saw Hanley play the ball into the box but Curtis Haley couldn't get enough purchase on his header allowing Charles-Cook to save.

A minute later and John O'Sullivan was a whisker away from giving Rovers the lead after cutting inside and letting fly the ball taking a vital touch off an Arsenal man to send it wide of goal.

Arsenal then had to clear off the line as Kellen Daly headed goalwards from Peter Wylie's corner, the visitors grateful for Zach Fagan being in the right place to head away.

As was often the case in the first half, the Gunners' best opportunities were down to errors from the home side. On 64 minutes Adam Henley presented the ball to Nigel Netia who found Kris Olsson but Kean was across well to save.

Jamie Maclaren's last action was to sting the gloves of 'keeper Charles-Cook. The Australian Under-20 international latching onto Curtis Haley's knockdown to lash the ball goalwards before it was tipped over the bar.

Rovers continued to press for a deserved winner and it almost came on 89 minutes when a misplaced backpass from Angha caught out Charles-Cook but the ball rolled just wide of goal.

The last chance of the game fell to Arsenal, striker Nigel Netia, who had little in the way of service up front all game, breaking forward to shoot but Kean saved well.

It was an impressive display from Bowyer's young side, the only element lacking was that vital goal.

The Under-21s are back in action on Friday night when Ewood Park plays host to Norwich City, kick-off 7.00pm.

ROVERS: Kean, Henley, R. Hanley, Paulo Jorge, O'Connell (c) (sub Beesley 83 mins), Wylie, O'Sullivan, Daly, Haley (sub Payne 78 mins), Fernandez, Maclaren (sub Cotton 76 mins).

Subs not used: Dilo, Brown.

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

ARSENAL: Charles-Cook, Angha (c), Bihmoutine, Hayden, Fagan, Hajrovic (sub Siemann 46 mins), Reees, Mugabo (sub Jebb 85 mins), Netia, Olsson, Toral (sub Jeffrey 66 mins).

Subs not used: Lipman, Iliev.

Goals: None.

Booked: Hayden.

Attendance: 464,

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