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REPORT | Rovers U18s 3 Bradford U18s 2

20 November 2023


REPORT | Rovers U18s 3 Bradford U18s 2

20 November 2023

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Rovers U18s made it a successful return to home turf as they ran out as late victors against Bradford City in the EFL Youth Alliance League.

Oliver Piekarski opened the scoring at the Hoober Homes Elite Performance Centre with his first Rovers goal before Max Adamson marked his return from injury with a second-half brace.

The result sees the youth team extend their winning streak to three games in all competitions and move above the Bantams into seventh in the north east division.

Frank Sinclair’s side started the game on the front foot and full of confidence as they found success down the wings but Bradford’s defence stood tall early on to clear any opportunities.

That backline would however be breached just 17 minutes in.

Harry Wood got down the left flank brilliantly and produced a curling cross to match as Piekarski timed his run to perfection and smashed a volley in off the crossbar to give Rovers a deserved lead.

The visitors came back at the youth team though and first came close with a shot from the edge of the box but it flew over the crossbar before striking level on the half hour mark.

A great ball from the heart of midfield exploited Rovers on the left hand side and the City winger worked his way inside to smash past Jake Oram at the near post and equalise.

That would see a shift in momentum in the first half and the hosts were forced to defend their own goal for the next 15 minutes as the visitors tried to pull off a near identical move on the left but Oram saved and left the scores level at the break.

Both sides had chances in the early stages of the second half and set the tone for the remainder of the game as the end-to-end nature set in but on 53 minutes Adamson replaced Piekarski for his first minutes in a Rovers shirt since the opening day of the season.

However, just before the hour mark, Bradford found an opportunity to take the lead as Oram misjudged a leap at the ball and tagged the feet of a Bradford attacker to award the visitors a penalty.

The striker stepped up with a hop, skip and a jump and placed into the bottom right corner.

Chris Pooley then replaced Wood and within minutes Rovers had a golden opportunity as Sam Straughan-Brown beat the offside trap and rounded the keeper – but he took the ball too wide and his shot was dealt with on the line.

The youth team soon put that missed opportunity behind them though.

Jamie Tomlinson’s corner from the right was headed away but Freddie Allen kept play alive to swing a high ball at the far post where Adamson jumped highest to head into the bottom corner for parity once more.

Jaiden Campbell-Ryce and Straughan-Brown then made way for fresh legs as Sinclair introduced U16s Deshaun Musgrave-Dore and Jayden Clarke-Thompson and the search for the winner continued.

In the final minute of regular time Rovers thought they’d won it when Allen met a free kick before the keeper and put the ball in the back of the net but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside and a draw looked inevitable.

That was until the 92nd minute.

Kenzie Dillon judged a sliding challenge to perfection and saw the ball break to Justin Bennett who played into the feet of Adamson for the striker to turn and smash into the bottom right corner for a late lead.

Bradford threw everything at the Rovers goal in the remaining minutes but Rovers stood tall and cleared any danger to secure a third win from three.

Rovers U18s will now look to build on their impressive run of games as they welcome Grimsby Town to the Hoober Homes Elite Performance Centre on Saturday, November 25.

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