Rovers U18s recorded their first EFL Youth Alliance League victory of the season as they saw off Lincoln City at the Soper of Lincoln Elite Performance Centre.
It took the visitors until the final 10 minutes to break the deadlock through Jamie Tomlinson before the winger then assisted Kenneth Imariagbe for the game’s second goal.
The result sees Frank Sinclair’s side respond in perfect fashion to their FA Youth Cup exit the previous week as they prepare for more cup action next weekend.
It was an open affair for the first 10 minutes of the game and chances were limited until Rovers got their first sniff of goal from a set-piece.
Harry Wood swung in a corner from the right and the keeper fumbled the collection to leave Freddie Allen with a golden opportunity from a matter of yards out at the back post but he put the ball just to the wrong side of the woodwork.
That seemed to be a wake-up call for the Imps and on 25 minutes they thought they’d taken the lead as a striker stroked the ball home into an empty net but the referee pulled play back for a foul on Rovers’ goalkeeper Jake Oram.
Sinclair’s side got down the other end in the very next passage of play and looked to be in on goal but the hosts’ defence swooped in at the last moment to clear.
The last opportunity of the opening half went the way of Lincoln as they countered quickly and went one-on-one but Tomlinson recovered brilliantly to nick the ball of the forward’s foot and clear to see the deadlock intact at the interval.
The second-half saw a cagey start and took until the hour-mark for a Rovers chance to arrive.
Imariagbe picked up on the right and drove down the wing to see options in the centre but he took the shot on himself and the ball flew just over.
In the very next attack the visitors had the ball in the back of the net through a first time Imariagbe finish but as he turned away to celebrate the flag was up for offside.
Rovers were on top now and minutes later saw Will Green’s corner agonisingly cleared off the line and that would be his last involvement as he and Harry Wood made way for Rhomani Murray and Jaiden Campbell-Ryce respectively.
Imariagbe continued to trouble Lincoln’s backline and rounded the Imps keeper but a heavy touch let him down and his side were still searching for an opener.
In the 80th minute, that search came to an end.
Substitute Campbell-Ryce swung in a corner from the left towards the back post and Tomlinson rose higher than anyone to thump a header into the back of the net and put Rovers in the driving seat.
The hosts pushed forward for a late equaliser but the youth team exploited gaps in the Lincoln defence to put the game to bed in minute 82.
Kenzie Dillon released Tomlinson down the left and the goal scorer produced a first time cross for Imariagbe to smash home first time and claim a thoroughly deserved goal in Lincolnshire.
Rovers defended well in the final knockings of the game and Tomlinson picked up a late booking but his side had done enough to pick up a stunning three points.
The youth team now turn their attentions to the EFL Youth Alliance League Cup as they travel to Morecambe for a group deciding tie on Saturday, November 11 (kick-off 12:30pm).