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Arsenal u18s 2 Rovers u18s 2

31 March 2015

A spot-kick double from striker Sam Joel helped Rovers' Under-18s to a 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Saturday.

The Academy top scorer netted twice from the penalty spot as the Lancashire club twice came from behind to earn a share of the points to stretch their unbeaten run to four matches.

A poor start from Rovers saw them go behind as early as the fifth minute. The visitors stood and watched as an outswinging corner was sent into the box and Arsenal forward Marcus Agyei-Tabi nodded home.

Arsenal were enjoying the better of the play but as the first half wore on Rovers started to get back into the game.

They should have levelled from a corner on 20 minutes when Scott Wharton headed on to Joel but Arsenal keeper Ryan Huddart saved well.

However, five minutes later Rovers were level. Luke Wall attacked the Gunners' defence down the left and as he cut into the box was brought crashing to the ground.

Joel took responsibility from the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way to put Rovers back on level terms.

But in gale force conditions, Rovers struggled to adjust to the conditions and the home side regained the lead ten minutes before the break, albeit fortuitously.

Brian Carey's side lost possession in their own half and as Arsenal sent the ball into the box, it deflected off defender Wharton and into the back of his own net.

Trailing at the break Rovers showed the required reaction with a much improved second half showing.

In control for large parts, Rovers upped the pace and imposed themselves on the home side.

That pressure eventually told on 70 minutes with Rovers winning another penalty kick after Modou Cham had been felled by the goalkeeper.

Joel stepped up once more and made no mistake for his 14th goal in all competitions this season.

Rovers had chances to win the game in the closing stages, Ramirez Howarth was denied by Huddart, before substitute Oliver Mehew fired narrowly wide after being put through on goal.

"We were slow starters, but the reaction we showed was pleasing," said Carey.

"In the end we were just a little bit disappointed as we could have won the game with the chances that we had in the second half.

"It was another good experience against a good footballing team, the lads worked out what they needed to do to get back into the game and generally made the right decisions in the second half."

The Under-18s are next in action against Southampton at Brockhall on Saturday 11th April.

ROVERS: Fisher, Tomlinson, Askew, Hardcastle, Platt, Wharton, Pemberton, Joel, Cham (sub Mehew 73 mins), Wall (sub Callaway 73 mins), Howarth.

Subs not used: Ascroft, Magloire.

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