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Man City u18s 2 Rovers u18s 2

23 November 2015

Rovers' Under-18s claimed a useful point with a 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Saturday, but it perhaps should have been all three.

Billy Barr's side fell behind on the half hour, but quickly rallied to lead at the break thanks to goals from Matty Platt and Tre Pemberton.

Rovers had opportunities to stretch their advantage, but City scored in the closing stages to ensure the match ended all square.

It was Rovers who were the stronger starters at the City Academy, adjusting better to the blustery conditions.

Top scorer Lewis Mansell spurned a great chance to give the visitors the lead on the quarter hour when played in one-on-one, but whilst his lob beat the keeper, the ball drifted off target.

Yet on 29 minutes it was the hosts who grabbed the opening goal. An attack down the right wasn't dealt with and as the ball was sent into the box for Lukas Nmecha to head City in front.

The Rovers response was swift and decisive. On 36 minutes a Joe Grayson corner kick was sent over and central defender Platt, who had scored two goals in two appearances for the Under-21s this season, headed home powerfully.

There was still time for Rovers to get their noses in front before the break. Joe Rank-Costello's centre was spilled by the City keeper and Pemberton pounced for his second of the season.

Andy Fisher in the Rovers goal kept City at bay with a magnificent save early in the second half. A left-footed strike from Pablo Fernandes seemed destined for the back of the net until the stopper's finger-tips pushed it onto the post.

But play was then halted after a bad tackle on Joe Grayson saw the young midfielder leave the pitch on a stretcher. He needed nine stitches for a gash on his knee.

Despite that delay in proceedings it was Rovers who continued to carry the greater threat. Scott Wharton, Ramirez Howarth and Pemberton all missing opportunities to stretch their advantage.

Yet eight minutes from time those spurned chances proved costly as Jason Wilcox's side equalised. Again a ball from the right wasn't cut out and Brahim Diaz stole in to head home.

Rovers pressed in the lengthy additional time, but they were unable to create any further opportunities.

"We've come away from Man City after a 2-2 draw, yet we are disappointed," said Barr.

"It was a good competitive game and one I thought we shaded as all the way through we had lots of chances.

"It is always a good test going to City. They said it was the toughest game they've had in the last six weeks so we've put down a good marker, we've just got to keep building on it.

"We started the season well before having a dip, but now we are coming out of it and back on the rise."

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Askew, Rankin-Costello, Platt (c), Wharton, Pemberton (sub Steer 80 mins), Mols, Mansell, Grayson (sub Fawns 55 mins), Howarth.

Subs not used: C. Doyle, Ascroft, Pirretas.

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