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Development Squad

Marine AFC 1 Rovers u23s 1

29 July 2017

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Rovers' Under-23s worked hard to earn a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Marine on Saturday.

In what proved to be the proverbial game of two halves, Marine enjoyed the better of the openings in the first, whilst Rovers dominated the second.

A diving header from George Hassel saw Marine lead at the break, but Joe Nuttall bagged his sixth pre-season goal from close-range early in the second after Jack Doyle had struck the post.

Then after keeper Ben Barnes had made a fine double save to deny both Nuttall and Doyle. He followed that up by keeping out a 71st minute penalty from the Rovers striker.

Rovers pressed until the end but they weren't able to turn their second half dominance into further goals.

Damien Johnson had a strong starting XI at his disposal for the match on Merseyside with Willem Tomlinson, Lewis Hardcastle, Joe Rankin-Costello and Nuttall all included having featured for the first team this pre-season.

But against a strong Marine outfit the Rovers found it tough going, as whilst they saw plenty of the ball in the opening half, they struggled to carve out any clear-cut openings.

Rankin-Costello and Connor Thomson both saw early efforts go wide, whilst a 19th minute corner from Jack Doyle was headed over the bar by Tyler Magloire.

It would prove to be Rovers' best chance of the opening half as the Evo-Stik Premier side grew into the game.

On 21 minutes they should have taken the lead when Magloire was caught in possession by Hassel. He fed Michael Brewster but his shot across the area was diverted beyond the far post by keeper Charlie Albinson.

Then a James Murray cross picked out Hassel moments later, but the forward couldn't keep his header down allowing the Rovers number one to claim high.

Marine continued to increase the pressure and it eventually told on 36 minutes when another cross from the right picked out Hassel and this time he stooped to head into the far corner of the net.

Johnson made a triple change at the break as Aaron Dillon, Charley Doyle, and Stefan Mols were introduced for Charlie Albinson, Tyler Magloire and Willem Tomlinson.

However sub keeper Dillon was a relieved man a minute after the restart when his clearance went straight at the Marine goalscorer. But thankfully his blushes were spared as he showed quick reactions to block the striker's first-time effort.

But having struggled to create anything meaningful in the first half, Rovers were level just eight minutes after the turnaround.

Good work from Jack Doyle saw him send a ball into the box, but whilst it couldn't find a red shirt, it bounced off the far post and into the path of Nuttall who slammed home his sixth goal this pre-season.

Boosted by the goal Rovers went in search of more, and but for a fine double save by Marine keeper Ben Barnes on 64 minutes, they would have taken the lead.

Mols did well to slip the ball through to Nuttall but Barnes was out quickly to save. Jack Doyle looked to steer the rebound home but again the keeper was there to thwart Rovers.

The Lancashire side continued to look the brighter of the two teams and had yet another excellent chance to go in front on 71 minutes. This time from the penalty spot.

A storming run into the area by Jack Doyle was illegally halted by an outstretched boot and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

Nuttall took the honours from 12-yards, but Barnes was equal to his efforts, getting enough on the shot to stop the ball from crossing the line.

Further changes were made as Academy scholars Ben Paton and Jack Evans were introduced, with Hardcastle and Rankin-Costello the men to make way. Evans was quickly in the thick of the action, forcing yet another save from Barnes, before firing a couple of yards wide from distance.

In what was an entertaining encounter, the last meaningful action of the match saw Nuttall turn provider with a ball across the box. It picked out Thomson, but he could only find the side-netting with his shot on the angle.

MARINE AFC: Barnes (sub Mendez 86 mins), Kisimba (sub Hamilton 68 mins), Shaw (sub Hollett 82 mins), Wylie (c), Hughes, Grogan, Strickland (sub Burton 73 mins), Brewster (sub Goulding 76 mins), Hassel (sub Blackburn 79 mins), Murray (sub Daz 61 mins), Edgar.

Goals: Hassel 36 mins.

ROVERS: Albinson (sub Dillon 46 mins), Grayson, Platt, Magloire (sub C. Doyle 46 mins), Doyle, Tomlinson (sub Mols 46 mins), Hardcastle (c) (sub Evans 73 mins), Travis, Rankin-Costello (sub Paton 73 mins), Nuttall, Thomson.

Goals: Nuttall 54 mins.

Attendance: 334


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