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Man Utd u18s 2 Rovers u18s 4

13 May 2017

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Rovers' Under-18s signed off their season in style with a 4-2 away win over Manchester United on Friday night.

Goals from Jack Evans and Brad Lynch saw Billy Barr's side come from behind at the break, before Ben Paton and Lewis Thompson netted in the second half to secure the victory in their final match of the campaign.

Under the lights at Altrincham, Rovers were the first to threaten. Inside six minutes a lovely cross from John Buckley found Callum Wright racing into the area but a combination of defender and goalkeeper prevented the ball from finding the back of the net.

Indy Boonan fired wide for the hosts, before Lynch saw an effort blocked after more good work from Wright.

Matty Campbell was called into action on the midway point of the half but he comfortably saved Ethan Hamilton's effort. Before the young Rovers keeper tipped a shot over the bar after Boonan had beaten the offside trap.

However after an even first 33 minutes it was United who struck first to break the deadlock.

Campbell did well to save DJ Buffonge's initial strike, but as the ball ran loose Hamilton snapped up the rebound.

But just two minutes later, Rovers responded in sensational fashion. With space around him in the centre of the park, Evans unleashed a stunning 35-yard strike that flew into the top left corner of the net. A goal to delight all of a blue and white persuasion.

United came back with Campbell keeping out a shot from Nishan Burkart, whilst the hosts saw a goal chalked off for offside.

But it was Rovers who would go in at the break in front thanks to another fine goal.

The visitors worked the ball well down the left flank and as Thompson sent the ball in, his centre was met by a powerful head from Lynch for his 9th goal of the season.

Having worked hard in the opening 45 minutes, Under-16 midfielders George Wilson and Calum Dolan were replaced at the break. With more youngsters introduced as Louis Khoury and Matthew Chan came on in their place.

And it didn't take the Rovers long to stretch their advantage with their third goal of the evening.

Again it was neat approach play that saw Rovers in a promising position with Lynch, and he unselfishly squared the ball for Paton to net his second successive goal to put daylight between the two sides.

And that two-goal cushion was needed as the hosts responded with their best spell of the game.

Substitute Dion McGhee struck the side-netting, before a cross from the right was glanced just wide by Luca Ecolani.

But Rovers had the chance to hit them on the counter, however Lynch curled his shot wide of goal after good work from Buckley and Paton.

That miss could have proved costly as the Mancunians then made it 3-2 on 73 minutes.

There seemed little on when Hamilton picked up possession far from the Rovers goal, but his long-range strike somehow crept into the bottom corner for his second on the night.

Sensing the chance to get back on level terms, United pressed once more, and if it wasn't for an outstanding save from Campbell it would have been 3-3.

Boonen took aim from the left corner of the box, the ball took a wicked deflection on it's way, but the Rovers goalkeeper got down sharply to tip the ball around the post with an outstretched arm.

That would prove to be the closest the hosts would come to getting on the scoresheet as Rovers added a fourth with nine minutes of the match remaining.

Left-back Thompson, a former United youngster, took advantage of the space in front of him to cut inside, and on his right-foot he struck into the far corner of the net.

It was the defender's second goal this season. The other coming at Brockhall in the 3-2 victory over Man Utd back in February.

There was still time for Rovers to give Under-15 midfielder Daniel Pike a runout in the closing stages. The win showing there is plenty of promise at the Academy to look forward to next season.

ROVERS: Campbell, Wright (c), Thompson, Buckley, Blackburn, Jackson, Wilson (sub Khoury 46 mins), Evans, Lynch (sub Pike 84 mins), Paton, Dolan (sub Chan 46 mins).

Subs not used: Winterbottom.

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