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Rovers u18s 1 Middlesbrough u18s 1

23 February 2015

Rovers' Under-18s picked up an encouraging point after a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough at Brockhall on Saturday.

Lewis Hardcastle grabbed only his second goal of the campaign to put the home side in front early in the second half, but a contentious penalty in the closing stages of the match gave Boro a share of the spoils.

Middlesbrough went into the match looking to wrap up the Academy League North title, but it was Rovers who came out with huge credit for their performance.

The first half was a closely run contest with Rovers having strong claims for a penalty waved away when a Boro man handled in the area, but the officials adjudged that the offence had taken place outside the box.

After a goalless first period it was the home side who took the lead ten minutes into the second half.

On 55 a break on the counter saw Sam Joel find Luke Wall in front of goal, and although his attempt was cleared by the Middlesbrough defence, midfielder Hardcastle made up the hard yards to pick his spot from the edge of the box.

Rovers had chances to increase their lead further, and saw further penalty claims unheeded when defender Jan Pirretas looked to have been fouled in the area.

Instead it was the league leaders who were given a generous decision in the closing stages of the game.

As Middlesbrough broke forward, goalscorer Hardcastle shadowed his man but was adjudged to have brought the Boro player down and a penalty was awarded. Joe Wheatley beat goalkeeper Andrew Fisher from the spot to ensure the game ended all square.

It was a really good test," said coach Brian Carey. "A good contest for our lads.

"We had the chances to win it so we are disappointed not to get the victory.

"We can't moan about the decisions, it was a really good performance and we caused Middlesbrough a few problems, it is just a shame we didn't get a result.

ROVERS: Fisher, Pirretas, Askew, Hardcastle, Platt, Edgar (sub Rankin-Costello 60 mins), Callaway (sub Howarth 80 mins), Tomlinson, Mansell, Joel (sub Mehew 85 mins), Wall.

Subs not used: Ascroft, Grayson.

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