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Everton u18s 3 Rovers u18s 2

16 February 2016

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Rovers' Under-18s slipped to a narrow 3-2 away loss at Everton on Saturday.

Looking for a positive result to consolidate their place in the top four, Billy Barr's side went down to a Toffees team chasing a place at the top of the northern division.

The young Rovers got off to the worst possible start when they went goal down with just a minute on the clock. Anthony Evans racing through to fire past Ben Ascroft.

The keeper was a late change to the starting XI after Andy Fisher fell ill in the warm-up. His first action was to pick the ball out of the back of the net.

It got worse for Rovers when the home side doubled their advantage from the penalty spot on the half hour. A mis-timed tackle from defender Charley Doyle on Shane Lavery saw a spot-kick awarded, with Nathan Broadhead making no mistake.

Rovers responded well and Lewis Mansell gave the visitors hope with a stunning long-range strike before the break. The forward notching his 20th goal in all competitions this season with an effort that found the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Barr's side looked to get back on level terms early in the second half but instead it was the hosts who restored their two-goal advantage on 51. 

A swift passing move saw the Toffees advance before Broadhead applied the finishing touch.

Again Rovers reacted well, and again it was from another spectacular effort. A quickly taken free-kick saw Mason Fawns take advantage and he lashed home from fully 25-yards.

But despite having the wind at their backs, the young Rovers couldn't force their way past a tough Toffees outfit, and the home side saw out the remaining minutes to claim the points.

"We were disappointed with our performance, Everton played the conditions better than us," said U18s lead coach Billy Barr.

"Our task was made all the harder by us conceding in the first minute.

"We were kicking into the wind in the first half, but we didn't use our shape against them, we didn't work the ball well.

"We managed to get a goal back before half-time but we needed to take more care with our passing and after an okay start to the second half we went 3-1 down.

"Again we pulled a goal back with a great strike from Mason, but we huffed and puffed and didn't create too much."

ROVERS: Ascroft, Travis, Williams, Hardcastle (sub Makinson 60 mins), Doyle, Magloire, Pemberton (sub Fawns 20 mins), Rankin-Costello (sub Steer 60 mins), Mansell, Mols, Howarth.

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