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REPORT | Rovers U18s 2 Rotherham U18s 0

20 March 2023

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Rovers U18s claimed back-to-back wins in the EFL Youth Alliance League as they beat Rotherham United in the final home game of the regular season.

Jack Raper claimed his first goal of the season to open the scoring early on before Harry Wood doubled the winning margin in the last few minutes of the first half.

The result took Rovers' points tally for the season up to 36 and also condemned the Millers to a regular season finish without a league victory.

After just five minutes, Raper picked the ball up in the middle of the park and played an advancing pass into the feet of Sam Brown who went in on goal and drew a foul out of the goalkeeper to win an early penalty.

The man who started the move then stepped up to the spot and nailed the ball underneath the ‘keeper and into the bottom right corner to give Raper his first success of the season and Rovers their first of the game.

The visitors tried to drag Frank Sinclair’s side into a battle in pursuit of an equaliser, but the hosts didn’t let up and they came close again on the quarter of an hour mark.

Faris Khan sprayed a ball out wide for Freddie Allen on the left but as the defender closed in on goal and drilled a shot across, it whiskered wide to leave the search for a second still on.

Allen would go on to nearly see his morning cut short after a foul above the knee resulted in a nasty gash but, after a short break for treatment, he was ruled fit to carry on and the Millers’ man somehow escaped a sending off with a yellow card.

Rovers then entered a spell where they were made to battle for midfield supremacy and it took until the 37th minute for the next clear cut chance to arise, but when it did come, they made it pay.

Khan once again flicked the ball out to the left for Wood to pick it up, cut inside his man and pick out the bottom right corner to double his side’s lead and put the hosts firmly in control at the break.

Upon the start of the second half, Sinclair made his first changes up front, taking off Trialist A and Faris Khan for Trialist B and Owen Scattergood respectively as he tried to further tighten his side’s grip on the game.

However, the league’s highest conceding team opted for a change in formation and prompted further substitutions for the home side.

Allen made way for Tom Parkinson before a further double change on the 65th minute saw Justin Bennett and Will Green introduced, in place of Raper and Wood, for the remainder of the game.

Rovers continued to flirt with the opposition goal but Rotherham’s style of play threw a spanner in the works and they managed to keep the ball out of the back of the net.

That theme continued and Rovers struggled to find a real opening for a third goal, but closing in on the final ten minutes came a lengthy injury break which resulted in the visitors having to bring on their sub ‘keeper - up front.

The Millers had used all of their outfield changes and were forced to play the last ten minutes with an out of position number nine.

With all the advantages in Rovers’ favour, they saw out the final knockings to claim another three points and see out the entirety of the regular season without loss at Cantley Park.

The youth team will take on another quick turnaround for their final regular season game as they travel to Grimsby Town in the EFL Youth Alliance League on Tuesday, March 21.

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