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Development Squad

Report: Rovers Under-23s 2-2 Liverpool Under-23s

Isaac Whitehall scores twice, but Rovers are denied victory by a late Liverpool leveller

19 April 2021

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Isaac Whitehall scored twice, but Rovers Under-23s were denied victory by a late leveller at home to Liverpool.

Having not scored all season, Whitehall looked set to be Rovers’ unlikely hero – netting a well taken opener on 33 minutes, before firing home his second of the game on 64 minutes.

Wales international Ben Woodburn had levelled the scores at the start of the second half, before Blackburn-born youngster Leighton Clarkson secured a share of the spoils three minutes from time.

The result moves Rovers a point clear of third-place Chelsea in the upper echelons of the Premier League 2 table.

Ahead of the game, Billy Barr made three changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Everton last time out.

In came Antonis Stergiakis, Jalil Saadi and Whitehall for Jordan Eastham, Louie Annesley and Connor McBride, whilst forward Dan Butterworth was again given a run-out for Rovers, getting 90 minutes under his belt, as he continues his comeback from injury.

After a scrappy start, Rovers ought to have taken the lead on eight minutes when Sam Burns pinched possession off the last Liverpool defender, before slipping in Jake Garrett, but he saw his shot saved by Liam Hughes at point-blank range. The Liverpool keeper then collected a back pass on the follow-up, but Butterworth was unable to find a way past the wall of red players from the subsequent set-piece.

The hosts threatened again on 19 minutes when Joe Nolan got in behind down the right and his centre from the byline found Whitehall, whose first-time shot was superbly saved.

The Rovers midfielder made no mistake with his next chance however, as Barr’s side opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark. A corner from the left was played short to Garrett, whose ball into the box was expertly steered into the far corner by Whitehall.

Rovers came close to doubling their lead moments later, but Burns’ shot deflected just past the post.

Liverpool would have been looking for an improved showing in the second half and they found themselves back on level terms just four minutes after the restart when a cross from the right was turned in by Woodburn at the far post.

However, Rovers responded well and they regained the lead with a really well worked goal on 64 minutes. Butterworth combined with Burns, who played a neat ball into the feet of Nolan, who centred for Whitehall to stroke home his second of the game.

Burns came close to putting the contest beyond doubt on 78 minutes, but his strike from the edge of the area sailed a whisker wide.

With the game still in the balance, Liverpool applied some late pressure, which Rovers looked to have dealt with well, until the visitors snatched a point with just three minutes left on the clock when Clarkson’s low cross-shot from the right found the far corner of Stergiakis’ goal.

It was cruel on Rovers, who are back in action this Friday when they welcome Derby County to the Lancashire FA headquarters, kick-off 7pm.

ROVERS: Stergiakis, Pike, Saadi, Barnes (c), Cirino, Garrett, Whitehall, Nolan, Durrant (Harlock 78), Butterworth, Burns.
Subs not used: Eastham, Annesley, McBride, Baker.

Goals: Whitehall (33, 64)
Booked: Garrett

 

LIVERPOOL: Hughes, Gallacher, Beck, Clayton, Boyes, Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner (Morton 81), Cain, Hardy (O’Rourke 78), Longstaff (Glatzel 70), Woodburn (c).
Subs not used: Mrozek, Savage.

Goals: Woodburn (49), Clarkson (87)
Booked: Longstaff


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