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Academy

REPORT | Harrogate U18s 2 Rovers U18s 2

9 May 2023

Academy

REPORT | Harrogate U18s 2 Rovers U18s 2

9 May 2023

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Rovers U18s staged another late comeback to take a point in their final EFL Youth Alliance League game of the 2022/23 season at Harrogate Town.

The hosts went two goals to the good at the York St John University Sports Park through Ben Tweed and Alfie Lee before Alex Fletcher and Jacob Bacon pulled the youngsters back late on.

The result saw the youth team finish in third place in this year’s competition and, in doing so, secure the club’s best league finish since the curtailed 2019 season.

Faris Khan got play underway for Rovers and an end-to-end affair immediately broke into action.

At one end, Harrogate dragged a free kick just wide of the left hand post before Rovers went down the other end in the very next minute and created a goalmouth scramble with multiple opportunities, but the keeper managed to eventually hold.

On the 10 minute mark, Max Adamson did brilliantly to jump and knock on with his head to set Will Green on his way and, with the keeper off his line, the midfielder took the shot on, only to be cruelly denied of double figures for the season by the crossbar.

The game then calmed down a little but another 11 minutes later, Tom Parkinson crossed a wonderful ball into the goalmouth for Adamson to attack but he cannoned the ball over from a matter of yards out.

The chances kept on coming for Rovers though as a set piece was put towards Freddie Allen at the back post but his swinging volley couldn’t be diverted on target and it went wide.

Adamson then tried his luck with a chipped effort but the keeper managed to claw it away before Harrogate pounced on an opportunity and opened the scoring on the 35th minute.

The hosts countered down the right wing and managed to work the ball inside the box and it became free for Tweed to pass home comfortably and break the deadlock.

In Harrogate’s next attack Jake Oram was forced to make a great save down low from a freekick and Will Green entered the referee’s book for a foul but Rovers went into the interval a goal behind.

After Rovers returned from the break, an opportunity for the next crop of talent came as Jacob Bryant and Sam Brown replaced Oram and Parkinson respectively for the final half of the season.

A cagey start then followed as Harry Wood had a great chance saved and another come back off the post but the hosts doubled their lead just before the hour mark.

Harrogate swung in a corner from the right hand side and Lee jumped above the rest of the field to nod home and leave Rovers with all the work to do.

Wood and Josh Lindley then made way for a trialist and Jamie Tomlinson respectively but the pressure kept on coming as the home side put a free kick over the crossbar and Bryant saved at point blank range to keep Rovers in the hunt.

With just eight minutes of regular time to go though, the visitors found their way and halved the deficit.

Right back Alex Fletcher picked up the ball on the wing, cut inside three defenders and then let loose with his left foot to rifle into the far top corner and bring his side to within one.

Just as they got back into the game though, Rovers were forced to finish the game with a man disadvantage as Max Adamson went off injured with all the available substitutions made.

Bryant then made a great double save in the 90th minute before Frank Sinclair’s side found what they were looking for deep into stoppage time.

In the 7th minute of stoppage time, Khan played his free kick short to Fletcher on the edge of the box and the full back swung towards the back post where Bacon was ready and waiting to smash home and grab Rovers an equaliser with a perfectly executed set piece routine.

The final knockings then played out and Rovers had shown the fight to execute another comeback and take a final point of the season.

The youth team will now look to reflect on a successful campaign, reset and be ready to take the fight to the top of the table once again next time out.


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