Tranmere Rovers U18s began their EFL Youth Alliance campaign with a narrow 3-1 defeat at the hands of Accrington Stanley at the Campus on Saturday Morning.
Two Accrington goals looked to have the points assured for the visitors before Rovers hit back late on through Jake Burton however Accrington sealed the victory in the final minutes.
In a very close fought first half, the deadline was broken in the 12th minute. The visitors were awarded a penalty after the referee had judged Kyle Hayde to have fouled the Accrington attacker off the ball. Bickerstaffe stood up well to deny the spot kick but the Accrington striker reacted quickest to prod home.
Both sides continued to create chances and Rovers could have felt that they could have been on level terms mid-way through the first half. Burton first rounded the keeper and looked set to score before a brilliant goal-line clearance from an on rushing defender. Minutes later and Burton had another chance on the break but his effort forced a smart save from the Stanley stopper.
The visitors missed the chance to double their lead as a well worked move resulted in an effort cannoning back off the crossbar.
The hosts were again denied an excellent chance to equalize as the referee awarded a back pass the ball fell to Stratulis whose shot evaded everyone in its path before another clearance off the line by a Stanley defender.
In a much quieter second period, the best chances fell to the visiting side. Two lobbed efforts were both cleared off the line by the Rovers defence in an attempt to keep themselves in the game.
Accrington doubled their lead in the 82nd minute. An advancing Accrington midfeidler did well to beat two men before placing an effort into the far corner.
That goal gave Rovers a bit of impetus and in the 86th minute, Jake Burton reduced the deficit. He picked up the ball on half way before easing past the opposing defender and beating the keeper with a smart finish to set up and exciting last couple of minutes.
However the comeback wasn’t to be and in the 90th minute the result was settled in some fashion as after some nice interplay from the away side forced a free kick 25 yards out, which was expertly curled into the top corner past Bickerstaffe.
Andy Parkinson’s side will have a free week in the league next week due to their game against Bury being called off.
Report by: Jack Harrison