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Arsenal u21 0 Rovers u21 0

17 October 2014

Rovers Under-21s put in an excellent performance as they picked up an impressive point on Friday night at Arsenal.

The focus was very much on the returning Theo Walcott, but it was Rovers who caught the eye with a determined showing against a stronger Gunners side.

Rovers had the better of the chances in the first half as Darragh Lenihan and Hygua Tanner were kept at bay by Arsenal keeper Ryan Huddart.

Whilst the home side forced the pace as the second half wore on with Rovers stopper Ryan Crump called upon to make a series of fine saves. The best of which saw him tip a Daniel Crowley free-kick onto the crossbar.

Both sides threatened in the closing stages, Rovers' display rewarded with a deserved share of the points.

Whilst Rovers welcomed back Devarn Green for the first time this campaign, they were up against a much more experienced side as hosts Arsenal were able to call upon a trio of first team stars.

The return to action of Theo Walcott drew a healthy crowd to Meadow Park, he was joined by Abou Diaby and Serge Gnabry in the Gunners' starting XI.

After an opening in which Rovers saw plenty of the ball, it was perhaps inevitable that Walcott would create the first opening of the game.

For once the England forward escaped the clutches of the impressive Jack Doyle to burst goalwards, he squared for Gnabry but Kellen Dally blocked well to thwart the midfielder.

Rovers responded well, fashioning an opportunity of their own. Neat approach play saw Dean Rittenberg move the ball onto Bradley Bauress who crossed for Connor Mahoney but he mis-kicked in front of goal.

Eric Kinder's side were restricting the home side to few chances with goalkeeper Ryan Crump having little to do. Instead it was Arsenal stopper Ryan Huddart who was the busier of the two.

On 31 minutes he had to race off his line to claim the ball at the feet of Hyuga Tanner as the Rovers midfielder chased Green's ball over the top.

Then Irish Under-21 international Darragh Lenihan was next to test the Arsenal keeper with a low strike, but Huddart got down well to claim.

The first half ended with yet another Rovers chance as Mahoney and Tanner combined down the right but Green just couldn't reach the Australian's centre at the back post.

It had been an impressive first half from the young Rovers and they started in the same manner at the beginning of the second.

Five minutes after the turnaround Tanner tried his luck with a shot low to the near post, Huddart again alert to his efforts.

Devarn Green came through an hour on his return to action, his replacement, Modou Cham, was the next to test the Gunners. Taking advantage of Jack Doyle's excellent decoy run, Cham cut inside to fire goalwards but his shot flashed just wide.

As the second half wore on the home side grew more into the game with Rovers goalkeeper Ryan Crump called upon to thwart Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Daniel Crowley in quick succession.

The save of the match came six minutes from time as Crowley bent a free-kick goalwards, it seemed to be heading towards the top corner before Crump's fingertips flicked the ball onto the crossbar and away.

Both sides pressed without reward in the closing stages, a draw the fair result on an encouraging evening for the young Rovers.

ARSENAL: Huddart, Moore, Ormonde-Ottewill, Diaby (c) (sub Johnson 68 mins), O'Connor, Ajayi, Maitland-Niles, Akpom, Gnabry (sub Zelalem 60 mins), Crowley, Walcott (sub Iwobi 46 mins).

Subs not used: Kamara, Macey (GK).

Goals: None.

Booked: Maitland-Niles.

ROVERS: Crump, Carson, Doyle, Lenihan, Lavelle, Daly, Mahoney, Tanner (sub Joel 85 mins), Rittenberg (sub Preston 79 mins), Bauress (c), Green (sub Cham 60 mins).

Subs: Williams (GK), Paulo Jorge.

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 1158

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