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REPORT | Rovers U18 2 Hartlepool United U18 3

25 March 2024


REPORT | Rovers U18 2 Hartlepool United U18 3

25 March 2024

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Rovers U18s closed out the Youth Alliance League regular season with a 3-2 defeat to Hartlepool United at Cantley Park.

Kenneth Imariagbe gave Rovers the lead after just three minutes in the but Alfie Steel’s leveller saw the sides equal at the break.

Steel found his second of the game in the second half before Noah Gilbraith secured the Pools third in the final quarter of an hour as Imariagbe was also sent off.

Kasper Williams added a consolation in stoppage time with Rovers qualifying for the second tier of the end-of-season Merit League.

Frank Sinclair’s side got off to the perfect start when Jaiden Campbell-Ryce and Will Flint combined to pick out Imariagbe who lifted the ball over the keeper to score.

Rovers looked comfortable in the early stages but a misplaced pass from Sam Straughan-Brown saw Steel race beyond Williams and fire into the bottom corner to equalise for the visitors.

Jake Oram denied Max Storey as Hartlepool went into the ascendency, while Ashton Wood narrowly failed to meet a low ball from Storey at the back post.

Rovers almost matched their start to the first half when Flint clipped a ball over the top for Imariagbe inside the opening 20 seconds only for the striker to drill narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

Storey continued to cause problems for Rovers and surged forward from half way before testing Oram with a drive. The winger should have put Hartlepool ahead moments later after a scramble in the box but Oram made himself big.

But Steel did give the visitors the lead on 69 minutes when he pounced on a misplaced pass and buried a shot into the bottom corner.

Hartlepool continued to use the strong wind to their advantage and Oram produced a brilliant diving save to deny a fierce Chris Lunn free kick.

And the pressure told on 77 minutes when a low free kick rolled to the back post where Gilbraith has the easiest of finishes.

Imariagbe was dismissed for a second yellow card on 88 minutes but Rovers would find another goal back. A set piece routine saw Straughan-Brown fire the ball into the box where Williams thumped home a header.

Joseph Aungiers rattled the bar with a shot from distance for Hartlepool with the final act of the game.

Rovers: Oram, Flint, Dillon, Bacon, Williams, Bennett, Campbell-Ryce, Hodgett, Thompson, Straughan-Brown, Imariagbe. Subs: Bryant, Tomlinson, Parkin, Musgrave-Dore, Piekarski.

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