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Rovers u18s 2 Sunderland u18s 1

9 February 2016

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Rovers' Under-18s continued their fine form with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sunderland.

Following last Monday's FA Youth Cup success over Aston Villa, Billy Barr's young side followed that up with a deserved three points over the Black Cats at Brockhall.

Lewis Mansell gave Rovers a half-time lead, but Sunderland substitute Josh Maja levelled with 15 minutes to go.

However the points were to remain in Lancashire when Rovers' sub Mason Fawns grabbed the winner when his 81st minute free-kick found the back of the net.

In wet and wild conditions at Brockhall, Rovers thought they had opened the scoring with their first attack of the game.

On 11 minutes Joe Grayson sent a free-kick into the area to where Charley Doyle headed home, but his celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

In what was a fast-paced opening, Grayson saw a free-kick flash inches wide after a storming run from Tyler Magloire, whilst Sunderland's Andrew Nelson saw a shot on the turn saved by Andy Fisher.

Rovers edged play and the deadlock was deservedly broken six minutes before the break.

Good work from Tre Pemberton saw the winger find Lewis Travis on the overlap and as the Sunderland keeper Michael Woud failed to hold his cross, Mansell tapped home from close-range for his 19th goal of the season.

It was very nearly 2-0 moments later when brilliance from Mansell saw him control the ball before turning and shooting goalwards, but Woud saved well.

The start of the second half saw Mansell go close with two further opportunities, before Black Cats defender Dan Casey headed over a corner kick.

Stefan Mols then saw a fierce effort kept out at one end, before Rovers were grateful for a stunning save from Fisher at the other.

A sweeping move from Sunderland saw the ball reach Jack Diamond with the goal at his mercy, but the Rovers keeper somehow pushed his close-range shot over the bar.
But with 15 minutes to go the visitors would get back on level terms. Slick passing from Sunderland saw Rovers opened up for the first time, Diamond finding sub Maja who applied the finishing touch.

However the response from Rovers was swift and effective. Mason Fawns scoring direct from a free-kick on 81 minutes to put them back in front once more.

The sub almost grabbed his second with another wonderfully struck free-kick, but on this occasion the ball crashed off the corner of post and bar and away to safety.

Rovers had suffered their first defeat in eight when they surrendered a lead late on against Sunderland last month, but the young blue and whites showed a maturity to their play in the closing stages to ensure there would be no repeat.

The win sees them go above the Black Cats and into fourth in the table.

"There was a lot riding on the game because Sunderland had defeated us at their place a fortnight ago," said U18s goalkeeping coach Ben Benson.

"The lads were desperate to get the result to move back into the top four.

"It was a hard-fought game between two similar teams. We were tentative at the start and our final pass let us down, but we are delighted with the goals we've scored.

"At the end we were pleased with the way we saw the game out. It is a massive part to learn how to do it, so we were delighted with the manner in which we closed out the game."

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Williams, C. Doyle, Platt (c), Magloire, Pemberton, Mols (sub Makinson 87 mins), Mansell, Grayson (sub Fawns 58 mins), Howarth (sub Steer 81 mins).

Subs not used: Curran, Ascroft.

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