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Report: Rovers Under-18s 2-3 Middlesbrough Under-18s

Goals from Sam Burns and Chanka Zimba aren't enough as Rovers suffer

2 January 2020

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A late winner from substitute Isaac Fletcher inflicted a heartbreaking defeat for Rovers at the Academy on Saturday morning against Middlesbrough's Under-18s.

Sam Burns had initially given Rovers the lead midway through the first half, producing an excellent solo run that finished with his effort hitting the post before beating Max Metcalfe in the Boro goal after 20 minutes.

Rovers were thankful to Aidan Dowling for a couple of smart stops, most notably to deny Callum Cavanagh with the break not far away.

That was how the score remained going into half time, but it wasn't a true reflection of the first 45 minutes, with wasteful finishing proving to be the visitors' downfall.

But Boro bagged an equaliser just after the hour mark when Cavanagh latched onto a long ball forward to tap home from close range.

An inventive set piece routine saw Middlesbrough turn the score around 13 minutes later, with Isiah Cornet thumping home after Harry Green picked him out on the edge of the box from a corner.

Another fine save from Dowling saw him deny Green before Rovers grabbed what looked like a late equaliser through Chanka Zimba.

After an incident in the box, Zimba stepped up from 12 yards, and although he saw his penalty saved, he followed up on the rebound by smashing home with a minute of normal time remaining.

However, more drama was to come when Fletcher stroked home the winner from just inside the box after Alberto Almanzar's ball found him.

That was to be almost the final kick of the game as Boro picked up their first three-point haul of 2020.

Next up for Rovers is a home test against Manchester United Under-18s, kick-off 11am at the Rovers Academy on Saturday 1st February.

Rovers Under-18s: Dowling, Cirino, Gent, Wyatt, Pratt, Weston (Wharton, 80), Harlock, Burns (Leonard, 46), Lonsdale (Gamble, 90), Gilsenan, Zimba.

Unused substitutes: Toft.

Middlesbrough Under-18s: Metcalfe, Gibson, Beals, Hannah, Marshall, Cornet, Sykes, Waites (Fletcher, 60), Cavanagh, Balde, Green (Reed, 87).

Unused substitutes: Flatters, Stott, Lindo. 

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