Rovers U18s 3 Sunderland U18s 1
Rovers Under-18s kicked off the first of three home games in seven days with an impressive 3-1 win over Sunderland at Brockhall on Tuesday afternoon.
The Academy had just four games remaining going into the match, with three of them at home over the next week.
David Lowe's young side saw first goals at Under-18 level from Scott Wharton and Stuart Callaway in the first half, and although the visitors pulled a goal before the break, Ramirez Howarth's second goal in consecutive matches to confirm a welcome win.
After a slow opening in blustery conditions the game sprang into life on 20 minutes. A through ball from Lewis Hardcastle was missed by the Sunderland stopper, but his blushes were spared as the ball ran just wide.
Then from a Lewis Mansell cross Stuart Callaway was narrowly over before Sunderland captain Lynden Gooch had a low shot saved by Callum Williams.
On 36 minutes the deadlock was broken. From Jack Doyle's corner from the right, Lewis Mansell first headed against the crossbar, then the post, but defender Scott Wharton was on hand to fire home.
Four minutes later and the home side lead was doubled when a slide-rule pass from Yeray Torres saw Stuart Callaway through on goal, he rode the challenge of one defender before slipping the ball under the advancing keeper and into the empty net.
However, Rovers' two-goal lead barely lasted a minute as the Black Cats hit back, winger Jordan Blinco cutting in from the left to steer the ball into the bottom corner.
At the start of the second half Blinco fired wide as the visitors looked to get back on level terms. The Rovers back four, a full compliment of Under-16 players, having to work hard in keeping them at bay.
That defensive rigidity was rewarded on 75 minutes when Rovers broke to score a third goal, Ramirez Howarth showing great skill to collect a pass before turning and firing home from the edge of the area with a sweet left-foot shot.
Sunderland pressed long into added time for a way back into the match, but the young Rovers held strong to pick up a deserved three points.
"It was a very pleasing performance," said coach David Lowe. "We were workmanlike and played with commitment and enthusiasm.
"Hopefully this result will stand them in good stead for the remaining games this season and into next season's campaign."
The Under-18s are back at Brockhall when they face Reading this Saturday, kick-off 11am, before they play Stoke City on Tuesday 15th, kick-off 11.30am.
ROVERS: Williams, Platt, Doyle (sub Askew 46 mins), Wharton, Nyambe, Wassi, Mansell (sub Fawns 68 mins), Hardcastle, Howarth, Torres (sub Grayson 88 mins), Callaway.
Subs not used: Fisher, Mols.