Second year scholar Jack Raper is pleased to see the progress the youth team have made since the start of pre-season, following a 2-1 victory against Morecambe.
The midfielder scored an 89th minute winner which added to Jack Goodman’s first half goal to complete a comeback after Rovers fell behind early on at Cantley Park.
The U18s’ victory saw Rovers gain their fourth win and second turnaround of the summer and Raper was happy to have contributed to that, pointing out how much the team had improved over pre-season.
He said: “It feels good to contribute and get the winner.
“Throughout pre-season there’s been times where we’ve been behind in games but we’ve been able to come back and win on a few occasions now.
“I think it really shows how much we’ve come on as a group and how well we’ve gelled together to be able to get another winner at the end today.”
Raper has not only had to step up to the challenge of a first pre-season in U18s football but having to impress a new manager in Chad Gribble, an opportunity the goal scorer was relishing.
This summer is the second full pre-season Raper has had an apprentice and has been relishing the opportunity to impress his new boss Gribble.
He added: “I’ve loved pre-season, it’s been a lot different to what I’ve been used to but it’s been great.
“Chad’s come in and given us all a lot of game time throughout the team to get us ready for that first game of the season and that’s the best way for us to be prepared for what’s to come so it’s been really good.”
The U18s have faced a variety of different opponents in preparation for the 2022/23 season and Raper felt the way preseason has shaped up would put the side in the best position to be ready for the first matchday against Hartlepool United.
He explained: “We’re going to be perfectly set up for the Hartlepool game.
“We’ve played against men’s teams who’ve been quite direct in their approach and category one teams like Newcastle United who wanted to play out from the back and we’ve always found a way to match them and face up to the challenge.
“With what we’ve faced, whatever Hartlepool throw at us, we’ll have an answer for it.”