Rovers U18s secured victory on matchday one of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup against Blackpool after scoring a late goal at Cantley Park.
Chad Gribble’s side played out a tightly contested game with their Youth Alliance North West counterparts but managed to find the breakthrough in the final ten minutes thanks to a Max Adamson strike.
The match gave both sides their first taste of cup football this term with the result meaning Rovers recorded back-to-back victories in their opening two competitive fixtures of the 2022/23 season.
It was the Tangerines that got the game underway and the visitors were the side who would see the early chances come and go.
Just three minutes into the half Rovers’ keeper Jake Oram was called into action when Blackpool’s winger cut inside the Rovers defence from the left and took aim at the top right corner but the hosts’ shot stopper managed to get across well to superbly turn behind for a corner.
The Tangerines then came forward again on the right wing and crossed in to an unmarked attacker but his headed effort could only be directed over the crossbar.
With a quarter of an hour on the clock however, Rovers would find themselves with their own chance to take the lead.
Great defensive work in the goalmouth of the Rovers box saw the defence take the ball and work it up towards Jack Goodman who held up and released to Sam Brown on the edge of box, leaving the midfielder to fire at goal but his effort would be deflected just wide of the right hand side post.
The hosts then began to grow into the game and saw more goalscoring opportunities come their way.
Josh Lindley played a defence-splitting ball from the middle of the park that cut through the Blackpool rearguard and was latched onto on the right side of the box by Alex Fletcher who fired a shot at goal but the right-back’s first time effort would rise just over the bar approaching the 30 minute mark.
Rovers then looked to kick on and finished the half strongly with the last chance of the opening 45 minutes as Ethan Harrison won a free-kick on the edge of the box that Brown took on and aimed at the far top corner but the ball was punched away and the whistle was blown.
Lindley then kicked off the second period and it would only take minutes for Fletcher to find himself with another chance as he carried the ball down the right flank and cut inside to switch to his left and take on a shot but it would be deflected into the keeper’s hands to keep the deadlock.
There was then a spell of play with chances at each end of the pitch but with no breakthrough in the scoring, Gribble turned to the bench for the first time bringing on Jack Raper for Sam Brown.
The home side then looked to ramp up the pressure in pursuit of a goal and almost got it with 15 minutes to go as Harrison played the ball into Jack Raper who took on the shot from outside the box but the goalkeeper found it easy enough to collect the attempt.
Gribble then made further changes in an attempt to find the breakthrough introducing Tom Parkinson, Max Adamson and Owen Scattergood in place of Will Green, Jack Goodman and Faris Khan.
With a change upfront, Rovers finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute with Adamson making an immediate impact from the bench with a goal contribution for the second successive week.
The striker used a burst of fresh energy to close down a loose ball back to the keeper and knock it past the visitors’ number one to find himself greeted by an open goal to carry towards and slot home to give Rovers the lead with a matter of minutes left on the clock.
The visitors then desperately looked for an equaliser to take a point back over the Pennines but the hosts’ defence rose to the challenge and managed the final knockings to take the three points in the first game of the group stage.
Rovers U18s will now look to turn their attentions back to the Youth Alliance League programme as Gribble’s side prepare for a South Yorkshire derby when they to travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, August 27 (11am kick-off).