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Rovers u21s 0 Arsenal u21s 0

16 March 2015

Rovers and Arsenal's Under-21 sides played out an entertaining goalless draw on Monday night.

In a repeat of the scoreline when the two teams met back in October, neither goal was breached on a chilly night at Leigh Sports Village.

Arsenal had the better of the first half with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Gedion Zelalem, Glen Kamara, and Stephy Mavididi all going close, but they couldn't find a way past the outstanding David Raya.

Whilst the first period belonged to Arsenal, the second was with Rovers as they grew in confidence to put the Gunners' goal under pressure.

Dean Rittenberg fired narrowly wide, before Devarn Green struck the post after claiming possession on the edge of the box.

Both sides had chances in the closing stages, with the draw just about a fair reflection of the game.

The first half at Leigh Sports Village was a case of Arsenal attack verses Rovers' defence with David Raya impressive in goal for the home side.

Just nine minutes in the young Spaniard made a sensational stop to prevent the Gunners from opening their account, getting down low to keep out a close-range shot from Ainsley Maitland-Niles, before closing down the angle as Gedion Zelalem struck the post on follow-up.

Arsenal weren't giving Rovers a moments peace at the back due to their quick incisive play. On 13 a corner from the right saw Semi Ajayi glance on but Maitland-Niles was wasteful in front of goal.

With Rovers working hard to keep Arsenal out, chances at the opposite end were few and far between, but a Connor Mahoney free-kick from the left on 24 saw Kellen Daly connect well but his header was cleared away in the six-yard box.

Glen Kamara volleyed over from Jack Jebb's weighted pass, before a cushioned ball from Alex Iwobi found Stephy Mavididi in on goal, but he couldn't beat Raya who ended the half as he started with a smart save.

Neither side made a change at the break but there was a positional switch for Rovers as Devarn Green moved up front with Dean Rittenberg on the left and Mahoney on the right. That helped to ensure it would be the home side who would have the better of the second half.

On 52 minutes Rovers were presented with a excellent chance from an errant back pass, but Rittenberg put his shot beyond Matt Macey but also wide of goal.

Green then gave chase to a long ball forward but he was outmuscled by Stefan O’connor as he went to ground in the box.

Green continued to cause the Arsenal defence problems and the Rovers forward's persistence was almost rewarded just past the hour mark.

As Arsenal captain Semi Ajayi looked to bring the ball out of defence he was caught in possession by Green, but as his first touch took him away from the defender, the second saw him slam his shot against the foot of the post.

As the half wore on the Gunners started to regain the upper hand territorially, but without ever really causing the home side any undue concerns as the Rovers back line defended stoutly.

On 84 minutes Iwobi ghosted past two challenges on the edge of the Rovers box but his shot was tame and easily claimed by Raya.

Rovers responded with an impressive piece of attacking play. Full back Ryan Nyambe charged down the right flank before delivering to the near post but neither David Carson nor Devarn Green could connect as the Gunners hastily cleared behind.

From the resulting Bradley Bauress corner Kellen Daly met the ball well, but his downward header bounced high enough for Macey to claim.

Daly showed his defensive side in the final seconds of added time to thwart substitute Austin Lipman, to ensure Rovers claimed a full deserved share of the points.

The Under-21s are back in action this Friday afternoon when they travel to take on Stoke City.

"Any draw against a side as big as Arsenal is satisfying," coach Eric Kinder told Rovers Player.

"We were under a lot of pressure at times, but I thought we could have nicked it at the end when Devarn hits the post, when he should have scored.

"I thought we stuck at it really well and we deserved what we got, a 0-0 against Arsenal is pleasing."

ROVERS: Raya, Nyambe, Edgar, Carson (c), Lavelle, Daly, Green, Bauress, Rittenberg (sub Wall 64 mins), Thomson, Mahoney.

Subs not used: Tanner, Crump, Wharton, Hardcastle.

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

ARSENAL: Macey, Smith, Bola, Kamara, Ajayi (c), O’Connor, Zelalem (sub Robinson 89 mins), Maitland-Niles, Mavididi, Jebb (sub Lipman 72 mins), Iwobi.

Subs not used: Sheaf, Iliev, Dobson.

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 303

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