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Report: Rovers Under-23s 0-6 Arsenal Under-23s

It was a night to forget for Billy Barr's side at the County Ground in Leyland against the Gunners

6 November 2020

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Emile Smith Rowe's brace helped a clinical Arsenal Under-23s to a big victory on a rare off night for Rovers Under-23s at Leyland.

The visitors put themselves ahead just before the break through giant striker Nikolaj Moller, before they ran riot with a ruthless second half display.

Catalin Cirjan's thunderbolt put the Londoners in command after the break, before the game was wrapped up before the final 20 minutes thanks to Smith Rowe's seven-minute double and then Dan Pike's unfortunate own goal.

There was still time left for Moller to bag a brace for himself, completing the victory in the final minute when he slid home when one-on-one with Antonis Stergiakis, who was making his home debut for the Development Squad.

Stretched to the limit before the game, Rovers suffered further damage in the contest, with the returning Jack Vale and Ben Paton suffering injuries that forced the pair off before half time.

Vale was named in the starting lineup for the first time this season following a troublesome injury picked up at the back end of last term, whilst Stewart Downing was named as a substitute.

It took until the 17th minute for the first opportunity to arise, with the in form Connor McBride heading over after Pike's inviting cross found the Scot in the box.

At the other end, visiting skipper Folarin Balogun dragged a left-footed effort wide of Stergiakis' left-hand post, before Balogun turned provider to brilliantly play in Smith Rowe, who curled high and wide when he really should have scored.

Rovers couldn't get into the half time break all square though, with the Londoners taking the lead in the final minute of the half through Moller's close range finish.

Fine footwork from Balogun again saw him trick his way past a couple of Rovers players, and after his strike was saved by Stergiakis, Swedish frontman Moller was there to tap home.

Arsenal came out of the traps for the second half looking to double their advantage as soon as possible, but the dangerous Balogun thrashed into the side netting after being put through by the impressive Smith Rowe.

But they got that goal they were looking for just a few minutes later when Cirjan thundered home a strike from outside the box that clattered the underside of the bar before finding the back of the net.

Two turned to three for the Gunners just minutes later; this time it was Smith Rowe who slammed home from six-yards out after a pick out from the superb Balogun in the box.

Rovers looked for a quickfire reaction, with only a good block from Joseph Olowu stopping McBride's first time effort that looked destined for the bottom corner.

Smith Rowe completed his brace just after the hour, tucking into the goal, despite Stergiakis getting a touch, after a cross from the right fell kindly for him at the back post.

The bad luck continued to come for Rovers with 22 minutes remaining, with Pike cutting out a cross from Smith Rowe, but only to see his block beat Stergiakis and end up in the back of the net.

The heads didn't drop and Rovers kept going, with Lewis Thompson testing Karl Hein as the game crept into the final 15 minutes.

But the damage wasn't done there, with Moller bagging a sixth for the Gunners with the final kick of the game on a disappointing evening for Rovers.

Next up for Barr's boys is a trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday 23rd November, kick-off 2pm.

Rovers Under-23s: Stergiakis, Pike, Saadi, Barnes (c), Thompson, Lyons, Whitehall, Paton (Durrant, 45), Vale (Burns, 23), McBride, Brennan.

Unused substitutes: Eastham, Downing.

Booked: McBride, 35, Paton, 38, Thompson, 90.

Arsenal Under-23s: Hein, Norton-Cuffy, Lopez, Awe, Olowu (Monlouis, 76), Akinola, Cirjan, Cottrell, Moller, Emith Rowe (Edwards, 72), Balogun (c) (Ideho, 80).

Unused substitutes:Hillson, Laing.

Goal: Moller, 44, 90, Cirjan, 52, Smith Rowe, 55, 62, Pike OG, 68.

Booked: Akinola, 90.

Referee: Paul Marsden.

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