Whitehall at the double as the U23s draw with Liverpool

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Isaac Whitehall’s first and second goals of the season gave Rovers U23s a point over Liverpool in an entertaining affair in Leyland.

The midfielder’s first goal put Rovers ahead at the break, but Ben Woodburn levelled the scores just three minutes after the restart

Whitehall then added his and Rovers’ second of the afternoon half-way through the second half, before a late strike from Blackburn-born Leighton Clarkson three minutes from the final whistle meant the points were shared.

Billy Barr made three changes from the side that fell to defeat at Everton. Antonis Stergiakis replaced Jordan Eastham between the sticks as they continue to share the goalkeeping responsibilities, whilst Jalil Saadi and Isaac Whitehall came in for Louie Annesley and Connor McBride.

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Rovers started the stronger of the two sides, with Jake Garrett winning the ball high up the pitch but his effort was saved. From the aftermath, the hosts were awarded a direct free-kick, from which Dan Butterworth saw his effort blocked.

Dan Pike and Sam Durrant were enjoying success down the right early in the first half, with a number of crosses from the duo well defended by the visitors.

And Rovers’ pressure paid off after 33 minutes, as a well delivered cross from Jake Garrett was met by Whitehall, who put the ball past Liam Hughes to give the hosts a deserved lead heading into the break.

Despite Rovers’ dominance in the first half, it would be Liverpool who started quickly after the break. A cross from the right found Woodburn in the box, and he poked past Stergiakis to level the scores.

However, the scores only remained level until the 65th minute as Rovers retook the lead through a wonderful team goal. A number of players were involved before Sam Burns found Joe Nolan, and Whitehall was there to finish for his second of the afternoon.

The visitors turned the pressure up in the closing stages as Owen Beck’s teasing cross looked destined for a Liverpool man to tap in but it evaded all those in red shirts.

Their pressure paid off with three minutes left to play as Clarkson picked up the ball on the edge of the box and his cross-cum-shot went into the bottom corner.

Liverpool’s late goal sees the Reds take a point back to Merseyside in an entertaining affair, but one that Billy Barr will feel Rovers could have won.

The results crowns Manchester City U23s as the winners of the PL2 Division One title.

Rovers U23s: Stergiakis, Pike, Barnes, Saadi, Cirino, Garrett, Durrant, Whitehall, Nolan, Butterworth, Burns

Subs Not Used: Eastham, Annesley, Harlock, McBride, Baker

Goals: Whitehall 33′, 64′

Follow our account dedicated to Rovers’ U23 and U18 sides. All the latest updates, news and match content will be posted there before anywhere else so make sure you’re following: @academy_rovers.

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