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Rovers u18s 1 Arsenal u18s 5

1 May 2017

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Rovers' Under-18s went down 5-1 at the hands of a strong Arsenal side at Brockhall on Saturday.

The young Rovers were blown away by a hat-trick by Reiss Nelson inside the opening 20 minutes, and although Brad Lynch pulled a goal back - his eighth of the season - Donyell Malen made it 4-1 before the break and then added another in the second half.
With the majority of the players eligible to feature for the Academy now with the Under-23s, it was always going to be an uphill task for Billy Barr's side in the end of season play-offs.
Just four players played on Saturday who were part of the starting XI who had knocked Arsenal out of the FA Youth Cup back in December. In contrast, the Gunners had just three changes from when the two sides last met.
And that difference showed as the visitors were ruthless from the off at Brockhall with Nelson grabbing two goals in quick succession to see them 2-0 up inside the opening ten minutes.
By 19, the Arsenal striker, who was red carded in the aforementioned cup-tie, had grabbed his hat-trick.
But to their credit Rovers didn't let their heads drop and pulled a goal back just before the half hour.
Callum Wright made progress down the side and Lynch fired home at the third time of asking after his initial effort struck the post, then it was kept out on the line, before the young forward eventually forced it home.
Boosted by the goal Rovers enjoyed a decent passage of play, but a lack of care allowed the visitors to grab a fourth to restore their three-goal advantage just before the break.
Again Rovers showed good determination to push the Gunners back in the second half, but they just lacked that ruthlessness in front of goal.
Arsenal had no such problems and a fifth duly arrived 17 minutes from time when Malen grabbed his second of the match to complete the victory.
"It was a scintillating start from a very strong team," said Barr.
"The lads never stopped trying, and we had opportunities to be clinical, but our touch or pass let us down, whereas everything they had in the first half went in.
"It is just the way we are at the moment, we don't have enough players in training and it is showing. The upside is that we're able to give more Under-16s their chance and hopefully they'll be all the better for it next season."
ROVERS: Campbell, Jackson, Evans, Wilson (sub Chan 70 mins), C. Doyle, Blackburn, Buckley, Mols, Lynch, Paton, Wright.
Subs not used: Winterbottom.

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