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Rovers u18s 3 Man Utd u18s 2

18 February 2017

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Rovers' Under-18s came from two goals down to record an impressive 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Saturday.

After a first half in which the home side twice rattled the crossbar, it was United who raced into a two-goal lead thanks to long-range strikes from Ethan Hamilton and Aidan Barlow.

But Billy Barr's side responded brilliantly with three goals in eight minutes as Lewis Thompson and Alex Curran fired Rovers level, before Brad Lynch scored from the penalty spot to secure the points.

With the Under-23s having played on Friday afternoon it was a young Rovers side that took to the field at Brockhall with just three second year scholars on show.

It was one of those, Tre Pemberton, who would have the first chance after six minutes when he cut inside to shoot, but Alex Fojticek in the United goal made the save.

Rovers continued to press and were the width of the woodwork away from grabbing the opening goal. Thompson taking advantage of space in front of him to let fly only to see his effort clip the crossbar.

The home side continued to press and on 24 minutes the bar would be rattled once more. As United struggled to clear their lines from a corner, Frank Jones fired goalwards only to see his shot strike the frame of the goal.

Callum Hendry put a looping header over the bar, before spurning a great chance soon afterwards when he fired wide after good work from Pemberton.

At the other end Ben Ascroft had watched on whilst Rovers dominated play, but he was called into action just before the break to make a superb save with his legs to deny Josh Bohui from 12-yards.

But as well as the young Rovers played in the first half, they were sloppy at the start of the second and were made to pay the price.

On 53 minutes it was the visitors who grabbed the opening goal, Hamilton lashing home from 25-yards out giving Ascroft no chance.

It got worse for the home side 15 minutes later when Manchester United doubled their advantage as a Barlow effort from distance found the back of the net.

It could have gotten worse for Rovers as only a fine save from Ascroft prevented a third being scored. The goalkeeper flinging himself to his left to keep out an Indy Boonan strike.

But the young Blues are made of stern stuff and didn't let their heads drop, pulling a fine goal back on 72 minutes.

A crunching tackle on halfway from Curran allowed Thompson to race through on goal and the left-back finished well against his former club.

It got better for Rovers when subs Joel Steer and Curran combined for a 77th minute equaliser. With his back to goal Steer turned brilliantly to send Curran charging forward and he made no mistake to make it 2-2.

Rovers were fully in control and were inches away from taking the lead when Andy Jackson fed Lynch who in turn sent Pemberton racing away, but his ball across the six-yard box was cleared behind.

The resulting corner saw Jones' header kept out, but as the ball was forced goalwards once more it was stopped on the line by the hand of United defender Jake Kenyon.

The player received the inevitable red card. Lynch made no mistake from the penalty spot as he fired high down the middle.

Rovers could have made it 4-2 in the final throes of the game as Pemberton raced away once more, but his ball across the box was just too far in front of striker Steer.

"I've said many times this season that we never know when we are beaten and today was another fine example of that," said Barr.

"The lads have once again showed a tremendous spirit and determination to come back and win the game.

"We should have been leading at the break but a sloppy start to the second half has seen us have plenty to do.

"But everyone has played their part and it was particularly pleasing to see all three substitutes have a hand in each of the goals."

The Under-18s end their regular league campaign this Tuesday when they take on Newcastle United. Kick-off at Brockhall 12.30pm. After that Rovers will be in the elite group of play-off matches.

ROVERS: Ascroft, Jackson, Thompson, Evans, Jones, Carter, Pemberton, Buckley, Hendry (sub Steer 46 mins), Wright (sub Lynch 69 mins), Paton (sub Curran 69 mins).

Subs not used: Campbell, Blackburn.

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