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REPORT | Rovers U18s 1 Sheffield United U18s 1 (pre-season friendly)

17 July 2022


REPORT | Rovers U18s 1 Sheffield United U18s 1 (pre-season friendly)

17 July 2022

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Rovers U18s were denied victory at the death in a highly competitive match against category two side Sheffield United in tough conditions at Cantley Park.

Chad Gribble’s side took the lead early in the second half through first-year scholar Will Flint and looked to be on course for a first win of pre-season but an unfortunate deflection in the dying minutes saw the Blades equalise to take a share of the spoils.

Rovers were aided by the return of a number of second-year scholars having previously linked up with the first-team, seeing the squad at full strength for the first time since the players returned from the summer break.

Rovers started the game brightly in the sun with a number of opportunities coming their way before the first water break, most notably through talisman Jack Goodman, who, in the first five minutes found himself presented with a ball in from the right and turned to fire towards the far corner but the visitors’ keeper got down well to push away and keep the initial deadlock.

Right-back Alex Fletcher had an effort saved in the first 20 minutes after driving forwards from defence to the edge of box and switching to his left foot to shoot but his curling attempt bent towards the keeper leaving him with a comfortable collection.

As the first water break came and went, Gribble’s side continued to look for the breakthrough and they thought they had it after seeing the ball in the back of the net from an Ethan Harrison shot but the referee disallowed the goal after deeming the striker to have committed a foul in winning the ball.

Rovers carried on their attacking nature to the half but it was the Blades who saw the last attempt of the period after their attacker carried the ball across the face of the 18 yard box and took on the shot but saw his effort well wide of the mark as the two sides entered the break on level terms.

After the interval Rovers came out firing, the home side advanced up field and immediately won a corner on the right-hand side. Tom Parkinson swung the resulting set-piece towards the back post as defender Charlie Petch met the cross and headed back into the goal mouth where Flint met the ball to head past the Blades keeper to give his side the lead.

Five minutes later United looked to respond through a corner of their own, the ball found its way to the far side of the goal and to an attacker who took on a shot that called upon goalkeeper Ben Bottomley for the first time. The shot-stopper reacted well after initially parrying the cross and got down to block the shot and keep the home side ahead.

The game then entered a spell of end-to-end play with Jack Raper having a low effort well held, Bottomley saving low himself, and then getting up quickly to smother his parried ball, and Goodman seeing his effort beaten away after good link-up play between Parkinson and Harrison in the build-up.

On the hour mark, Gribble made a number of changes seeing multiple players replaced by a group of U16s as the youngsters got another chance to prove their worth.

The second-half water break soon followed and as play resumed Rovers looked to extend their lead.

Substitute Owen Scattergood ferried the ball across field and pulled back to Justin Bennett but his shot didn’t meet the target as he fired just past the top-right corner.

In the last five minutes of the fixture, the away side mounted pressure on Rovers’ lead with two efforts in as many minutes directed goalward but both efforts comfortably found the hands of Bottomley.

The Rovers keeper's work to keep his side in front would however be undone with two minutes left on the clock.

The visitors came forward with the ball in midfield and took on a shot from range but as the ball took a deflection in the Blades’ favour, it fell into the path of the awaiting attacker to slam home, first-time into the bottom-left corner to equalise.

The hosts then desperately looked to find a winner late on and almost got it as Petch attacked a corner and connected with a header that looked destined for the bottom-right but the visitors’ keeper got across well to save and hold onto the ball to ensure the game ended a goal-a-piece.

The result means Rovers remain unbeaten since returning from the summer break and Gribble’s side will aim to build on their impressive showing as they look to get their first win of pre-season next time out against Wakefield at the Millenium Stadium on Wednesday, July 20.

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