Rovers U18s were forced to share the spoils in a competitive first game of pre-season against Youth Alliance North-West side Oldham Athletic at Cantley Park.
Rovers took the lead on three separate occasions through Jack Goodman, Charlie Thompson and Max Adamson but the visitors responded each time with a goal from Jake Forshaw and a double from Aaron Atkinson.
The match was split into three 30 minute periods under the Doncaster sun as Chad Gribble took the helm for the first time since been named manager of the U18s.
It was a cagey start to the fixture with fouls been given away by each side, but 10 minutes in Rovers managed to get a hold on the game as Faris Khan picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played it into Goodman who turned and fired across goal with his left foot past the ‘keeper, into the back of the net to give the home side an early lead.
The striker’s goal added to his scoring tally started last week with the first team at Armthorpe Welfare as he looks to carry on last season’s fine goalscoring form.
The Latics then looked to get back on level terms immediately but saw efforts high and wide and one comfortably held by new first year scholar Jake Oram.
There was then more action from the new scholars as Harry Wood latched onto a ball in the midfield and aimed at goal as he sent the ‘keeper to his right, away from the ball, but he managed to save with his feet to keep the deficit to just the one goal.
As the first period came to a close, Oram was again called into action blocking well to turn away multiple attempts from a succession of corners and keep Rovers ahead going into the first break.
Rovers then introduced a number of U16 players for the second period as the home side looked to get minutes into legs in an action packed half-hour.
The visitors began the period on the front foot and it took three-minutes for them to level from a corner through Atkinson after beating Owen Scattergood at the near post to head past the Rovers ‘keeper.
Gribble’s side then responded almost immediately after a passage of battling play in midfield as Scattergood picked up the ball and laid off to Sam Brown who cut onto his right-foot and took aim from distance but a deflection took his attempt onto the post, rebounding into the path of Thompson who smashed in low at close range to retake the lead.
The spell of successful attacks then continued once more minutes later, this time in the Latics favour, after a cross in from the right-hand side fell into the path of Forshaw who slammed in from close range to restore parity having previously wasted a one-on-one opportunity.
Rovers then looked to take control of the game again and 10 minutes later they were successful in doing so.
Striker Adamson made use of his positional skills to cut out a misplaced pass in the Latics’ back line and then set himself to shoot towards the bottom left corner and the goalkeeper looked to have it covered but his mistake saw the ball bounce off him and loop over the goal line to put Rovers ahead for a third time.
As the second period looked to have been coming to a close, a long ball forward was played by the Oldham defence and although the Rovers defence looked to have dealt with the aerial danger, Oram was deemed to have fouled Oldham’s attacker in a coming together and a penalty was awarded in the visitors’ favour. Atkinson stepped up and slotted the ball away to see the second period end on level terms.
Rovers then looked to find a winner in the final period and almost did with efforts from Goodman just missing the target and an attempt from Scattergood smashing the crossbar as the game came to a close and the hosts took a draw in the first game of their preseason programme.
Gribble’s side will now look to build on their strong opening performance as they turn their attentions to their next game against fellow South Yorkshire side Sheffield United at Cantley Park on Saturday, July 16.