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REPORT | Rovers U18s 3 Notts County U18s 1

29 January 2024


REPORT | Rovers U18s 3 Notts County U18s 1

29 January 2024

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Rovers U18s made it back-to-back wins in the EFL Youth Alliance League as they comfortably saw off Notts County on the Eco-Power Stadium 3G.

Just seven-days after notching his first goal as a Rovers scholar, Sam Straughan-Brown scored a hat-trick for Frank Sinclair’s side as they secured all three points on home soil.

The result sees the youth team move level on points with the championship merit league placings with eight games remaining of the regular season.

Sinclair’s side got off to a lighting fast start in DN4 and had the lead after just two minutes after good pressure from the off.

Straughan-Brown stole the ball off a defender’s foot and gave a pass to Kenneth Imaraigbe who returned the favour and saw the midfielder one-on-one to slot between the keepers legs for the lead.

That would set a theme for the game as Rovers carried out a bombardment of the Magpies box throughout.

Imariagbe had a chance of his own soon later after neat footwork on the right but his near-post shot was tipped on to the woodwork and put behind.

A rare chance came for County after a quarter of an hour as they nearly made the counter-attack pay but a great diving save denied the visitors of an equaliser.

A Rovers trialist then unleashed a defence splitting pass from deep and saw Straughan-Brown with only the keeper to beat again but his effort was saved and Imariagbe’s first-time rebound was put wide.

Will Green had his first attempts at goal within minutes of each other soon after but the keeper saved the first before the winger put the ball agonisingly wide with a reaction shot from a matter of yards out.

Imariagbe continued to make a nuisance of himself on the right of the attack but the hosts only led by one at the interval despite a number of good chances to extend.

The visitors made that pay in the second half and within four minutes of the restart County were level.

Quick one-touch football saw gaps open up in Rovers defence and left an attacker to slot into the bottom left corner from close range.

That wouldn’t dishearten Rovers though and by the 51st minute they were ahead again.

Straughan-Brown picked the ball up on the half way line and sprayed out to Oliver Piekarski on the right who again returned the favour for the midfielder to meet with a volley and thump the ball into the back of the net.

Just before the hour mark the number 10 had a chance to complete his hat-trick as he expertly dragged the keeper out and rounded his opponent but the ball was put inches wide again.

Jacob Bryant was then called into action at the other end to get behind a powerful County shot but Rovers got forward again and soon had a third.

In the 62nd minute confusion in the Magpies backline saw a long ball bounce through the defence and saw Rovers three against one with Straughan-Brown picking the ball up and stroking into the bottom-right corner for his hat-trick.

Jamie Tomlinson then took the place of a trialist and the chances kept coming.

Green stepped up to a free kick on the right and took aim from 20-yards out but the ball bounced back off the post and it was cleared again.

Charlie Thompson took the place of Imariagbe in a change up front for the final third of the game but it was County who came closest to scoring next.

Complications at the back saw the visitors have an open goal to aim at and despite getting the effort on target, it lacked power and Bryant was able to recover on the line and deny the Magpies at the last.

On 75 minutes Piekarski tried his luck with a volleyed lob from 30-yards but a brilliant dive saw the keeper produce the save and tip the ball over the crossbar.

U16s Deshaun Musgrave-Dore and Dylan Corbett took the places of Ethan Hodgett and Jacob Bacon for the final quarter-of-an-hour as Rovers saw out the remainder of the game for a thoroughly deserved three points.

Frank Sinclair’s side will now look carry on their recent spell of momentum as Rovers U18s travel to Huddersfield Town in more EFL Youth Alliance League action on Saturday, February 3.

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