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U21s lose to Boro

16 December 2013

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The Under-21s disappointing season continued on Monday evening with a 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough.

Superb strikes in each half from Andre Bennett and Emmanuel Ledesma saw the visitors run out comfortable winners at Leigh Sports Village.

Paul Robinson had a busy night on his return to action, whilst new signing Connor Mahoney looked lively as a second half substitute, but they were the only bright points on an otherwise frustrating night.

For the match against 'Boro, Rovers were able to call upon seniors Robinson, Markus Olsson and Yann Songo'o. But despite the starting eleven having plenty of first team experience it was the visitors who were on the front foot from the off.

Just seven minutes in and Paul Robinson was given an early test after neat approach play by 'Boro but he saved Cameron Park's shot low down at his post.

Rovers responded with a chance of their own, Joe Fryer first denying John O'Sullivan before thwarting Hugo Fernandez as he looked to follow up.

Middlesbrough were seeing more of the ball and having the territorial advantage but it should have been Rovers to open the scoring. A superb 24th minute ball over the top from Darragh Lenihan was brilliantly controlled by Fernandez, but despite taking the attack inside the area he seemed in two minds and neither shot nor passed to a Rovers player in the six-yard box and the chance was gone.

It proved to be a pivotal chance as sixty seconds later it was Middlesbrough who would take the lead.

A cross from the right was punched clear by Robinson, but as the ball dropped to Andre Bennett outside the box, he was shown inside by Fernandez and the defender needed no second invitation, curling a lovely effort that went in off the far post giving Robinson no chance.

Darragh Lenihan was over with a shot from distance before Middlesbrough striker Emmanuel Ledesma saw a shot blocked for a corner by Markus Olsson. The resulting kick saw the ball fall to Park but he could only hook it into the awaiting arms of Robinson.

The second half saw the visitors start strongly, with only a superb save from Paul Robinson preventing Ledesma from doubling their lead. The Middlesbrough man letting fly from the corner of the area only to be denied by a tremendous one-handed save from the Rovers man.

However two minutes later Robinson would have no chance as slack marking allowed Ledesma to get space in the box once more and he certainly didn't waste it lashing an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net. A quite sensational strike.

Rovers did have the ball in the back of the net on 68 minutes after Lenihan's pass played Slew in on goal, but a late call by the linesman's flag ruled it out.

Eric Kinder gave new signing Connor Mahoney a half hour runout and the 16-year-old didn't disappoint on his Rovers bow.

On 75 the former Accrington youngster cut in from the right to shoot left-footed but Joe Fryer got down well to save.

Sixty seconds later and Mahoney was appealing for a penalty. Racing towards the goal from the right he was tripped by Bennett, but the linesman on the far side ruled that the connection was outside the area.

After that Rovers huffed and puffed but it was only in the second minute of added time that Fryer was called upon to do more work, saving brilliantly to keep out John O'Sullivan's free-kick.

ROVERS: Robinson, Daly, Olsson, Lenihan, Songo'o, Tumwa (sub Mahoney 62 mins), Fernandez, O'Sullivan, Slew, Payne, Fabio Nunes (sub Rittenberg 82 mins)

Subs not used: Urwin (GK), Preston, Bauress.

Goals: None.

Booked: Lenihan, O'Sullivan.

BORO: Fryer, Bennett, Wledji, Jackson, McNab (sub Halliday 15 mins), Morris, Park, Waters, Ledesma (sub Jones 83 mins), Wyke, Williams.

Subs not used: Coddington (GK), Kitching, Kneeshaw.

Goals: Bennett 25 mins, Ledesma 57 mins.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 162

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