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Newcastle Utd u21s 1 Rovers u21s 1

17 August 2015

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Rovers' development squad picked up their first point of the season with a hardworking draw against Newcastle United.

A bright start from Damien Johnson's side saw them take a deserved lead on 23 minutes when David Carson squared for Anton Forrester to fire home from close-range.

Rovers pressed for further goals that their play merited, but it was the hosts who drew level just before the break when substitute Jamie Sterry nodded home a Liam Smith cross.

The Lancashire side were strong starters once more in the second half, with Forrester denied by a goal-line clearance from Gael Bigirimana after good work from Carson and Sacha Petshi.

Rovers had controlled the game for long periods but the Magpies came strong in the closing stages, the visitors indebted to four fine saves from Simon Eastwood to ensure a deserved share of the points.

Summer signing Sacha Petshi was handed a runout for the Under-21s, whilst Ryan Nyambe, fresh from his senior debut in the Capital One Cup returned to right back.

In goal was Simon Eastwood and he was called into action after just four minutes to deny new Newcastle forward Ivan Toney.

The former Northampton man collected a through ball from Gael Bigirimana before shooting low, but the Rovers keeper saved well down to his right.

After that it was Rovers with the majority of the forward play, and with Anton Forrester troubling the centre-halves, they certainly carried a threat.

On 12 a ball into space from Sam Lavelle saw Nyambe race into the area, he pulled the ball back for David Carson, but his low shot was saved by Karl Darlow.

Rovers didn't have long to wait for the opening goal of the game, as their promising play was rewarded on 23 minutes.

Patient build-up from the team in red saw the ball worked to Carson in the area and he squared the ball for Forrester to tap home.

Moments later great strength from Forrester saw him hold off his marker to get his shot away, but Darlow stuck out a boot to save.

Rovers were controlling proceedings but it was the home side who grabbed an equalising goal five minutes before the break with a well-worked goal.

Midfielder Liam Smith raced down the left and his centre was nodded home by early substitute Jamie Sterry.

The leveller knocked Rovers with the hosts enjoying their best spell of play, but they stood firm to ensure the scores were level at half-time.

Ten minutes into the second half saw Rovers go close once more to regaining the lead.

Carson took full advantage of the space available to him on the right to race around the back of the Newcastle defence before picking out Forrester. But unlike the first half when the two combined for the opening goal, the striker couldn't control immediately which meant that when he did fire goalwards, the home side were grateful for a fine block on the line from Bigirimana.

Rovers continued to press and probe, Forrester glanced a Willem Tomlinson centre just wide after good work from Petshi and Carson, then a ball over the top saw Tomlinson race clear but he was just ushered out of possession when it mattered.

But as it looked like it would be Rovers who would continue their pressure, it was the home side who ended the match the stronger side.

Jack Doyle made an important block as a ball across the box deflected into the path of Magpies wide-man Sterry, but the Rovers defender was alert to the danger. Then Simon Eastwood was called upon to make an important save on 81 minutes. Newcastle striker Toney letting fly from 30-yards, the Rovers keeper diving full-length to push the ball aside.

Eastwood was again called upon to make a vital save in tipping over a superb shot from Smith. From the resulting corner he kept out a near-post shot from Kyle Cameron. A free-kick from Toney soon after kept the Rovers keeper on his toes as he pushed the effort aside to ensure a share of the points at Whitley Park.

"I was really pleased with the performance," said coach Damien Johnson. "We had some good chances.

"It is a little disappointing that we didn't put them away, but the fact that we are creating them and looking threatening is the main thing.

"The last ten minutes we probably fatigued a bit and we made some changes, but overall we are really pleased."

NEWCASTLE: Darlow (c), Mbabu, Cameron, Bigirimana, Gillesphey, Satka, Gilliead, Smith, Toney, Roberts, Laidler (sub Sterry 21 mins).

Subs not used: Harker, Williams, Cobain, Hunter.

Goals: Sterry 40 mins.

Booked: None.

ROVERS: Eastwood, Nyambe, Doyle, Petshi (sub Mansell 74 mins), Lavelle (c), Wharton, Mahoney (sub Hardcastle 46 mins), Tomlinson, Forrester, Carson, Green (sub Edgar 82 mins).

Subs not used: Crump (GK), Grayson.

Goals: Forrester 23 mins.

Booked: Mansell.

Attendance: 470

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