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Derby County u21s 0 Rovers u21s 1

26 April 2015

Rovers Under-21s maintained their recent good form with a 1-0 win over Derby County on Friday afternoon.

After a busy week in which the young Rovers played for two hours on Monday night in the U21 Premier League Cup against Southampton, they dusted themselves down to put in a professional and dogged performance against Derby at their training ground.

In a tight contest, the only goal of the game came after 36 minutes when a Dean Rittenberg shot was blocked on the line but then rebounded into the back of the net off the unfortunate Ethan Wassall for an own goal.

Derby had gone into the match hoping to close the gap on league leaders Middlesbrough, but they more than found their match with Eric Kinder's side, particularly in the first half.

After the gruelling tie at St. Mary's, Kinder unsurprisingly chose to freshen up his squad with Kellen Daly, Mark Edgar, Lewis Hardcastle and Hyuga Tanner coming in. There was also a first U21 start for Academy top scorer Sam Joel.

From the off the young Rovers served their intensions, their pressing play restricting the Rams to very little as the visitors enjoyed the better of the exchanges.

Hyuga Tanner went close with a diving header that flashed wide before the deadlock was broken just past the half hour.

Rovers worked the ball well down their left to where Rittenberg escaped to shoot, but whilst his effort across goal was cleared off the line, the ball rebounded back off Wassell and into the back of the net.

In the second period the heavy week of travel and football started to take it's toll, and Rovers came under increased pressure from the home side.

Opportunities for Rovers were limited, Connor Mahoney could have done better when well placed, whilst the pace of the ball just prevented substitute Lewis Mansell from getting in after escaping his marker's clutches.

Tom Koblenz, Charles Vernam and Ivan Calero all had chances for Derby as they looked for a late leveller, but with David Raya in impressive form in goal, and another resolute display from the defenders, they couldn't find a way through as Rovers claimed back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

"We played against a Derby side who are chasing promotion and matched them toe-to-toe," said Kinder.

"We played quite well in the first half but in the second the week caught up with us and we were on our knees at the end.

"It was a stubborn, defensive performance, David Raya made two outstanding saves, and we held on for what was a great win.

"It shows what the side has become, we'd have caved in earlier on in the season, but we've developed a never-say-die attitude and a desire to win a football match which is thoroughly pleasing.

"We've got Wolves on Monday so I'll freshen up the squad once more and in the final two games of the season give some of the younger lads their chance."

The Under-21s are back in action against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the BRFC Academy this Monday, kick-off 1.00pm. Admission is free, all supporters are welcome.

ROVERS: Raya, Daly, Edgar, Hardcastle, Lavelle, Jones, Carson (c), Bauress, Rittenberg (sub Mansell 65 mins), Tanner (sub Thomson 85 mins), Joel (sub Mahoney 59 mins).

Subs not used: Wharton, Crump.

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