Rovers U18s had an impressive performance against category one Academy side Newcastle United.
Chad Gribble’s side went ahead in their second game of the day thanks to talisman Jack Goodman’s fifth goal of the afternoon but the home side managed to complete a comeback as Lewis Miley and Lucas Cooper netted to ensure the Magpies took the spoils.
Rovers had already recorded a 5-1 win against Partick Thistle in their first hour long game of their visit to Tyneside but a 10 minute turn around proved too much to overcome against a well-rested Newcastle side.
The second game started in a similar fashion to Rovers’ game against their Scottish opposition in the match previous with both teams testing the limits of each other and the opening chance didn’t arise until 10 minutes in.
After a cagey end-to-end period of play, the home side’s midfield managed to get a hold of the ball on the edge of the box and as an attacker positioned himself to get a shooting opportunity, he let loose and fired goalward but his effort went wide of the mark and failed to break the deadlock.
Rovers looked to mount attacks of their own and found themselves presented with an opportunity minutes later.
Goodman managed to draw a foul out of the Newcastle defence following a superb switch of play from Alex Fletcher and the resulting set piece was fizzed low into the box where Rovers’ number nine was greeted with the ball as he shot at goal from close range but his effort was too close to the keeper to trouble him.
Rovers looked to keep their foot on the pedal as they continued to search for the breakthrough and five minutes later, Harry Wood found himself with the opportunity to do so.
Tom Parkinson battled well on the left to win the ball and played a progressive ball into Goodman. Full of confidence the striker took on another shot but the keeper stopped and parried the ball to the edge of the box where Wood charged onto it and smashed low but great defensive work saw it cleared off the line and the deadlock still intact.
The visitors’ pressure would eventually pay off however just five minutes from the break.
Ethan Harrison found himself out wide and aimed in a cross from the right which made its way over to the left, and Jack Raper, who slotted the ball into the danger area where the man of hour Goodman duly obliged to smash home and give Rovers a deserved lead.
The breakthrough found by Goodman saw him record his fifth of the day and seventh of pre-season with Rovers.
Gribble’s side’s work would however be unfortunately undone just minutes later as the Magpies’ Lewis Miley latched onto a loose ball in midfield and fired goalward, seeing his effort fly into the top right corner to restore parity as the sides entered the interval.
The heavens then opened in the north-east as the Rovers manager introduced his first change of the game seeing Owen Scattergood replace Josh Lindley at the start of the second half.
Rovers then looked to try and break down the hosts’ backline again but the home side’s defence stood up to the challenge as the visitors were tasked with dealing with defensive work of their own.
With both teams trying to find a breakthrough and both seeing defences coming out on top, Gribble introduced more fresh legs.
Will Green, Freddie Allen, Max Adamson, Chris Pooley and Justin Bennett replaced Ethan Harrison, Jack Raper, Alex Fletcher, Jak Whiting and Tom Parkinson respectively as Rovers looked for a winner.
Despite the visitors’ changes, it was the hosts that managed to break the long standing defence down.
The Newcastle attack found space in the area to shoot and the shot looked destined for goal after beating Jake Oram in goal but Will Flint did well to turn behind for a corner but it wasn’t enough.
The Magpies played their corner to the edge of the box where Lucas Cooper was waiting to take on a shot first time, seeing his effort fly into the back of the Rovers goal to give the hosts the lead with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Rovers then threw one last roll of the dice bringing on Charlie Thompson for Jack Goodman in the final five minutes and almost got their reward when a cross from the right hand side nearly made it’s way into the far side of the net but it passed the face of goal and went behind for a goal kick as United saw out the dying minutes of the game to take victory.