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Rovers u21s 1 Arsenal u21s 0

1 April 2016

A first half header from Sam Lavelle gave Rovers' Under-21s all three points against Arsenal on Friday night.

In a hardworking display at Leigh Sports Village, the defender's first goal of the campaign proved to be the difference between the two sides as Rovers recorded back-to-back league wins.

Rovers edged the first half with Lavelle's header from a Connor Mahoney corner on 38 minutes giving them the advantage. And although Arsenal had the better of proceedings in the second half, the home side defended well to earn the victory.

Jason Lowe played his first 90 minutes since in August to complete a very pleasing night's work for the Rovers.


There was little between the two sides in the opening period as both teams worked hard to restrict space. The first chance of note came on 17 minutes when an opportunist's strike from Willem Tomlinson saw his 20-yard effort fizz narrowly over.

Arsenal should have taken the lead at the midway point of the half when a long ball upfield from defender Krystian Bielik picked out Donyell Malen running through, but whilst the forward clipped the ball over the advancing Simon Eastwood, it also cleared the crossbar.

Scott Wharton almost gave the hosts the lead from a Rovers corner when the ball rebounded to him in the box, but his poked effort was blocked, but on 38 minutes Damien Johnson's did manage to get the breakthrough.

A strong run from defender Lewis Travis saw Rovers win a corner, and as Connor Mahoney delivered to the back post, Lavelle stooped to head home his first goal of the season.

The Gunners wasted two opportunities to get back on level terms before the break. Serge Gnabry fired over following a weaving run, before Dan Crowley was denied by Eastwood after escaping his marker in the box.

Rovers started the second half brightly with Jason Lowe's looping header going narrowly wide, before Anton Forrester's fine shot on the turn was expertly kept out by the legs of Ryan Huddart in the Gunners goal.

But as the clock ticked on it was the visitors who were posing more of a threat with Eastwood saving brilliantly to deny Malen after Ben Sheaf had cut the ball back. The Arsenal number nine then saw the ball break for him again moments later but his effort was easy for the Rovers keeper.

Despite Arsenal coming more into the game Rovers had a chance to stretch their advantage when a defensive mix-up allowed Forrester in on goal, however his shot across the box trickled wide.

But that would prove to be a rare Rovers attack as the visitors continued to force the pace in the closing stages. 

Crowley shot off target before great pace from Josh Da Silva saw his cross volleyed goalwards by substitute Eddie Nketiah but his well-timed effort was narrowly over.

Despite that pressure Rovers saw out the remaining minutes without any further troubles to claim another three points in front of more than 500 fans at Leigh.

ROVERS: Eastwood, Travis, Askew, Tomlinson, Lavelle (c), Wharton, Mahoney, Lowe, Forrester, Hardcastle (sub Rankin-Costello 87 mins), Wall (sub Doyle 71 mins).

Subs not used: Platt, Fisher (GK), Mansell.

Goals: Lavelle 38 mins.

Booked: None

ARSENAL: Huddart, Moore, Pileas, McGuane, Bielik, Pleguezuelo, Sheaf (sub Nketiah 74 mins), Da Silva, Malen, Gnabry (sub Eyoma 77 mins), Crowley.

Subs not used: Keto (GK), Mourgos, Bola.

Goals: None

Booked: None

Attendance: 526

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