Rovers U18s hit the road for the first time in 2024 this Saturday as they travel to Notts County in EFL Youth Alliance League action.
Frank Sinclair’s side will be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking this weekend and return to winning ways after the youth team returned from the Christmas break with a loss against Mansfield Town.
It will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides since 2021 when the Magpies left the EFL Youth Alliance in the same season as lifting the league title.
The two sides were due to meet in October for their first meeting of the season but due to both being involved in the FA Youth Cup during that match week, the game was postponed.
The Magpies were welcomed to South Yorkshire during the summer though as the two sides battled it out in the final game of pre-season preparations.
Max Adamson, Will Green and Kenneth Imariagbe all scored on that occasion as Rovers ran out 3-0 winners at the Hoober Homes Elite Performance Centre.
The Magpies have struggled to find form since return to the Youth Alliance in the summer and have only managed to pick up one point from eight games to currently sit bottom of the division.
County haven’t struggled to score goals though as of late and have scored in each of their last five games to find the back of the net eight times.
All of those games have ended in defeat but their last two have seen goals galore after first losing 4-3 to Rotherham United and then 3-2 to Bradford City on the run in to the new year.
Rovers returned from the Christmas break with a loss last weekend but prior to that collected three wins from five and were unbeaten in that period with victories over Lincoln City, Morecambe and Bradford City.
Burton Albion continue to lead the way in the north east division of the Youth Alliance League following another win last weekend that sees them now with eight wins from nine and 24 points to open up a six point gap at the summit of the league.
Rovers moved into ninth place after last weekend’s result with eight points form nine games but a victory this weekend could see Sinclair’s side climb as high as seventh.
Notts County remain routed to the foot of the division with just one point from eight games and a -16 goal difference in their first season since rejoining the EFL Youth Alliance.
Following last weekend’s defeat to Mansfield Town, professional development phase coach Frank Sinclair is looking for his side to return to the their pre-winter break ways and find victory on the road.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll have shaken off that little bit of rust from last weekend and we’ll be a bit better on the ball like we know we can be.
“I expect us to compete like we have done all season and we’re looking forward to another good test to hopefully get back to winning ways.
“We can’t take too much from the friendly we beat them in during the summer because we more of a mix of U16s and U18s that day and it was more about the exercise and fitness rather than competitiveness.
“I’m not taking too much away from that and we’ll just go into the game respecting the opposition like every other team we play.”