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Rovers u18s 1 Boro u18s 1

12 August 2015

The Rovers and Middlesbrough's Academy sides played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw in their opening league match of the new season on Tuesday lunchtime.

Rovers took the lead at Brockhall just past the half hour thanks to Joel Steer's well-taken goal. However the lead only lasted five minutes as Matthew Platt only found his own net with a headed clearance under pressure.

In what was a robust encounter, the second half saw both sides press for the winner, but neither defence was breached as the match ended all square.

Both sides look to gain the upper hand early on in what was an open start to the match.

On six minutes Middlesbrough forward Lee Hetherington broke free of his marker to shoot goalwards, but Andy Fisher in the Rovers net easily claimed the shot.

Rovers responded with an excellent chance of their own. Joe Grayson seeing his effort saved, but Joel Steer was unable to force home the rebound.

That prompted a good spell of pressure from Billy Barr's side. Forward Mason Fawns, who has been in good goalscoring touch this pre-season, unfortunate to see his strike from just inside the box skim the bar and bounce over.

But on 36 minutes Rovers grabbed the opening goal their play deserved.

Tricky winger Tre Pemberton skipped past a couple of Boro challenges before playing a lovely ball over the back of the visiting defence. Steer anticipated the pass perfectly and rose to head home the opening goal of the new season.

But unfortunately for the home side they weren't able to build on their lead as Middlesbrough levelled just five minutes later,

A deep cross from the left saw Fisher palm the ball away from underneath his crossbar, but as it was put back into the box the unfortunate Platt looked on to see his headed clearance only find the back of the net.

Whilst Rovers had edged the first half, the second period was a much more even affair.

Grayson was just wide with a 25-yard free-kick, whilst Hetherington's turn and shot was kept out by Fisher.

The two sides continued to exchange chances as Pemberton and sub Alex Curran went close for Rovers, Jack Lambert and Hetherington denied at the other end as the match ended 1-1.

"I'm really happy with the way we played, especially in the first half," said Under-18s coach Billy Barr.

"I thought we were quite dominant, a constant threat, and scored a really good goal to go 1-0 up.

"We conceded a sloppy goal with Matty unfortunate, but we dealt well with that disappointment.

"Boro started the second half better than us, but after that it became two sides on the counter.

"All in all a draw was a fair result and their staff felt the same. It was a good start and something for us to work from."

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Askew, Grayson, Platt, C. Doyle, Pemberton, Mols, Steer (sub Curran 74 mins), Fawns (sub Callaway 75 mins), Howarth.

Subs not used: Ascroft, Makinson, Pirretas.

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