Junior Smith’s hat-trick inspired Rovers to their second consecutive victory in the Youth Alliance League when they defeated Huddersfield Town 4-0 at Cantley Park.
Goals for Smith (2) and Will McGowan meant the U18s led 3-0 at half-time. The Rovers youngsters were able to continue their dominant display in the second 45 with Smith adding a second and completing his hat-trick.
A select few of players from both sides had met midweek in the U17s Clarets Cup – the Terriers were victorious on this occasion beating Rovers 2-1. Rovers had a point to prove in this match.
Rovers started with confidence when Marius Conradi clashed with goalkeeper Michael Roxburgh when he was unleashed one-on-one, however Roxburgh came out on top.
Rovers thought they had capitalised on their early pressure when Elliott Walker’s aerial ball was headed in by Smith but the linesman was quick to rule it out for offside.
The setback did not deter the U18s as they continued to press for an opening goal.
Two probing free-kicks from Rovers tested the defensive resilience of Huddersfield. The Terriers hit Rovers on the counter-attack as Darnel Baxter-Alleyne erupted forward but was swiftly stopped in his tracks by a determined Charlie Bell who sprinted back to put in a perfectly-timed tackle to stop the forward in his tracks.
Paul Stancliffe’s side took the lead on the 27th minute as Smith opened his account for the morning. He walked the ball around Roxburgh – who was off his line – and lashed the ball into the back of the net.
Three minutes later Rovers had their second goal when Bell ignited an attack, providing a diagonal ball to unlock Walker down the wing who placed a cross for Smith to stroke the ball into the goal.
Will McGowan joined in on the goal-scoring fun as he pelted the ball over the head of Roxburgh with credit going to Nathan Dimou for his long pass forward creating this chance.
In the second-half Rovers showed no signs of letting up when Conradi saw another effort come agonisingly close when he poked an effort wide.
Smith was on the hunt for his hat-trick and continually got into goal scoring positions. The first of the main of chances came when he blazed the ball over the bar from close range.
He was on the end of another opportunity when his shot was deflected wide by the Huddersfield defence.
It was not until the final few minutes of the game that Smith was rewarded for his perseverance - he fired the ball into the roof of the net.
The team return to action at the end of October with an away trip to Carlisle United in the Youth Alliance Cup.