Strong performance sees U23s pick up three points at Arsenal


A brace from Sam Burns saw Rovers U23s record a second victory of the week as they ran out as 3-0 winners at Arsenal.

Connor McBride opened the scoring from the spot after Lenni Cirino was fouled in the box, before Burns scored Rovers’ second and third before the half-time break to give the visitors all three points.

Arsenal named a strong side, with a front three of their top scorer Folarin Balogun and first-team duo Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.

For Rovers, it was an unchanged side, something of a rare occurence in Billy Barr’s sides – and in PL2 football in general.

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There was little of note in the opening 20 minutes of so, with both sides settling into the match.

However, the game was brought to life before the half-hour mark as Lenni Cirino made his way into the box, and was brought down by an Arsenal man. Up stepped Connor McBride, and he sent the keeper the wrong way for his eleventh goal of the season and to give Rovers the lead.

Sam Durrant should have doubled Rovers’ lead almost immediately after as he went one-on-one with the Arsenal keeper, but he fired over and wide.

Rovers did double their lead soon after, as Sam Burns went through on goal in almost a carbon copy of the Durrant chance, but the forward made no mistake to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

There was time for a third before the break as Connor McBride’s teasing cross was perfectly met by Sam Burns, who headed home for his second and Rovers’ third, leaving them comfortable at the break.

Rovers were in control after the restart, with Burns, McBride and Durrant all causing issues for the Arsenal defence.

Burns could have had a hat-trick around the hour mark, but his header was straight at Okwonko in the Arsebak goal.

Reiss Nelson then came close for the hosts with around twenty minutes, but Rovers did well to block the shot and clear the danger.

Despite late pressure and chances for Arsenal, Rovers stood strong and held out for three points, keeping a clean sheet in the process.

Billy Barr’s side are next in action on Friday, hosting Brighton and Hove Albion at the Leyland County Ground. Kick-off is at 2pm.

Rovers: Eastham, Pike, Saadi, Annesley, Cirino, Garrett (Harlock 72′), Whitehall, Durrant (Baker 81′), Nolan, McBride (Gent 82′), Burns

Subs Not Used: Dowling, Connolly

Goals: McBride 29′, Burns 34′, 44′

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