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Rovers u18s 4 Norwich u18s 2

20 April 2015

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A Sam Joel hat-trick helped Rovers Academy increase their unbeaten run to six matches after a 4-2 win over Norwich City on Saturday.

The Academy top scorer took his goal tally to 16 in the league and 18 in all competitions with a treble to ensure victory against the Canaries.

Rovers started brightly at Brockhall, taking the lead after just six minutes. Joel getting in around the back of the Norwich defence to shoot, and although his initial effort was saved, the 17-year-old fired home the rebound.

That woke the visitors up and they were the stronger side for the majority of the first half as the home side struggled to cope with their shape.

Norwich drew level at the midway point of the half through a long-range strike, before defensive frailties set in as a long run by a Canaries defender went unchecked and he fired home to make it 2-1 to the visitors.

Rovers were struggling to wrestle control of the game off Norwich, but they were handed the chance to end the half on level terms with a penalty just before the break.

After Joel had been fouled in the box the striker dusted himself down and made no mistake from 12-yards to make it 2-2.

A talking to at half-time ensured a different Rovers side came out in the second and they regained the lead just on the hour.

Defender Mark Edgar took an inswinging corner from the right and it eluded everyone in the area to fly into the back of the net. The second time this season that the young Northern Ireland international has scored direct from a corner.

Ten minutes later and Rovers finally rammed home their advantage with Joel completing his hat-trick. The forward using the decoy run of Ramirez Howarth to great effect to notch his third of the afternoon.

Rovers and Joel should have scored more in the closing stages, in particular an excellent chance went begging at the back post when Stuart Callaway crossed for the striker but he headed wide.

Further opportunities were spurned by the home side but they had done enough to register their fifth win in their last six games.

"We did deserve to win," said coach Brian Carey. "We were dominant in an attacking sense and had chances to score more.

"But Norwich will feel a little bit unlucky, they certainly had a good go and made life difficult, even at 4-2 up. It was only at the end that we could have made it a lot more comfortable.

"It was a good test for the lads, it was a good game for them."

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Edgar, Hardcastle, Platt, Wharton, Joel, Tomlinson, Wall (sub Askew 84 mins), Howarth (sub Mehew 80 mins, Callaway.

Subs not used: Ascroft, Pirretas, Grayson.

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