Rovers U18s are now 10 games into their 2022/23 Youth Alliance League campaign and are sat in fifth place with two cup competitions still to play for, so ahead of their return to action this month, here’s a recap of the first half of the season.
HARROGATE U18s 5 ROVERS U18s 2
After enjoying a successful opening two months of the season, the youth team hit the road again on the first day of October as they faced off with Harrogate Town at York St. John University.
Rovers found themselves two goals down after half an hour for Will Green to then go and convert yet another free-kick just before the break but there was still enough time for a third for the hosts as they made it 3-1 before the interval.
Harrogate furthered their advantage on the 55th minute and received their first red card of the fixture, giving Rovers a man advantage.
Rovers made use of it on the 80th minute as Chris Pooley found the back of the net for his first goal of the season but the home side immediately restored their three goal cushion.
Town had another man sent off late on, but the damage had been done and Rovers were dealt their first loss of the season and then manager Chad Gribble’s tenure.
LINCOLN U18s 0 ROVERS U18s 0
A week later Rovers made their first of two trips to Lincoln City to play their second Professional Development League Cup, looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.
Rovers had the better of the chances in the opening half with Jack Goodman firing an effort just wide of the left hand post as his strike partner was forced off through injury and replaced by Owen Scattergood.
Despite the visitors having the lion’s share of the goalscoring opportunities, it was Jake Oram in the Rovers goal that would win his side a point as he made a save at point blank range on the 85th minute to see a great battle between two strong sides come to a goalless end and the points shared.
PORT VALE U18s 1 ROVERS U18s 0
After maintaining their unbeaten record in one cup competition, Rovers quickly turned attentions to the EFL Youth Alliance League Cup and their longest trip yet to Port Vale.
The hosts started on the front foot as they looked for an early lead but the visitors withheld the pressure on the backline to see the scores level at the break.
Rovers’ defensive work would however become undone when The Valiants found the breakthrough in the second-half. They would go on to see out the remainder of the fixture without reply to see Rovers’ 100% record in the competition come to an end. It was also the final game that Gribble took charge of before he went on to become assistant head coach with the first-team.
HUDDERSFIELD U18s 2 ROVERS U18s 0
Frank Sinclair then took charge of the youth team as they travelled again, this time to Huddersfield Town.
The hosts took the lead after eight minutes, after a dinked success before Will Flint saw an effort come back off the post to prevent the scores from being level at half-time.
Rovers came close to equalising on numerous occasions and looked to be the team in control of the fixture, but the hosts broke on the counter in the last 20 minutes and doubled their lead to give themselves control as Rovers went to three games without a goal.
LINCOLN U18s 3 ROVERS U18s 2
Rovers then found themselves in FA Youth Cup action and with another trip to face Lincoln City, this time at the LNER Stadium.
Jack Goodman found himself back in the goals early on after he smashed the ball in off the post on the eighth minute and he had the chance to double his tally for the night after 25 minutes but the ball went wide.
The Imps equalised before the break and, after Harry Wood was sent off within 60 seconds of been introduced, the hosts took advantage and scored another two goals to knock Rovers out of this year’s competition.
ROVERS U18s 3 GRIMSBY U18s 0
With the exit from the FA Youth Cup, came Rovers return to the Hoober Homes Elite Performance Centre for the first time in October for a league tie with then league leaders Grimsby Town.
Looking to maintain their 100% record at Cantley Park, Sinclair’s side piled the pressure on from the start and got their reward 23 minutes in when Will Green’s smart play found Owen Scattergood who smashed a volley into the back of the net.
Scattergood then returned the favour to assist Will Green before Max Adamson added a third goal to take a comfortable win and the first of Sinclair’s reign.
RECORD SO FAR: Played 12, Won six, drawn two, lost four.
TOP GOALSCORER: Jack Goodman (seven)