Haverhill Rovers U21s entertained unbeaten Potters Bar in their first home game of the season with a stronger looking squad than the one they came away with from a heavy defeat against Chelmsford City in the opening league game.
The game started at a fast pace as both teams moved the ball end to end with some neat football on display from both teams and both keepers were soon brought into action as Philp saved from long range before Healey cut in from the left for Rovers and brought a good save out of the visitor’s keeper.
The quality of the football on display remained with Gardner, Haines and Shulver having a great midfield battle with their Potters Bar counter parts as possession remained fairly even and Healey again was a constant threat down the flanks for Rovers along with new signing Tyler Kemp who also looked dangerous in joining the attack from right back.
The pace of the game remained high going into the second half as Philp was soon called into action making a good save down to his left whilst at the other end the visitors keeper did well to tip over a Jack Howard header. The Rovers back four of Kemp, Holmes, Howard and Newnes looked solid whilst the Rovers midfield cover play provided a tough test for the visitors who were being forced into playing a longer range of passing that rarely threatened the home team.
Rovers then took a well-deserved lead when a Luke Haines near post corner was met by a powerful Sam Holmes header that gave the visitor’s keeper no chance as the deadlock was finally broken. Potters Bar tried to increase the tempo of the game as they soon went in search of an equaliser but they still came up against a well organised Rovers defence and midfield that looked comfortable throughout. They did not allow the visitors to play through them leaving them only to try long range goal attempts that rarely troubled Philp in the home goal.
As the game drew to a close it was the home team who actually had the better chances as they counter-attacked in style and the lead was nearly doubled in the closing stages as Reiss Oteng’s cross from the left was met by Rhys Shulver who had run from deep inside his box before he shot across the keeper and just wide of the mark and was the last chance of a very good game that provided quality football from both young teams.
Bishop Stortford U21 1 Haverhill Rovers U21 5
After a fine home win against Potter Bar last week, the Rovers U21s team lead by Peter Betts travelled to Bishop Stortford on Monday evening for another tough fixture against a team that contained many players with Conference South experience.
The rain during the build-up created a decent surface that provided the ball with plenty of zip and this straight away suited the young Rovers slick passing game as they soon began to move the ball from back to front and side to side with ease. It was not long before they put the Stortford goal under pressure when Lawrence Healey crossed for Rory Jebb who shot into the side netting. Rovers continued to dominate with Gardner, Haines and Shulver again being the core from midfield and it was not much longer before the deadlock was broken when Healey again set-up Jebb and this time the striker made no mistake when he fired into the bottom corner.
Rovers continued to look to play in all areas with Kemp and Newnes getting forward from full back positions to link with the midfield and a good move saw Ollie Stevenson make a good run into the Stortford box where he was bought down with a heavy challenge that saw the ref point to the spot. Jebb again stepped up and fired the ball home for his second.
The home team to their credit then had a good spell of decent football as they looked to get the ball down and play but they came up against a solid Rovers defence that restricted them to long range efforts that rarely troubled Philp in the Rovers’ goal and it was Rovers who looked the more likely to score. It was not long before this happened when a good move starting with a pinpoint pass from Shulver found Haines who played the ball out to Healey who then beat his man and hit a left foot shot that was pushed out by the home keeper only for Jebb to be on hand to fire home his team’s third goal and his hat-trick for a comfortable half time lead.
The pattern of play remained the same in the second half as both teams tried to get the ball down and play but it was again Rovers who looked the sharper team. Will Gardner then picked up a knock and was replaced by Burr who took up his role on the left whilst Healey played a more central role and this again added more problems to the home defence as the fresh legs enabled Rovers to pick up the pace again with Burr making an instant impact running at the full back and delivering a number of dangerous crosses.
A fourth goal was soon to follow when a through ball from Shulver put Haines through on goal who then finished with a coolly chipped finish over the advancing keeper. Jebb then added his fourth goal of the evening with a powerful header from a Kemp cross.
The football on show remained of a high quality from both teams but Rovers always had the cutting edge as Alleyne came off the bench and went close on two occasions before Stortford finished with a spell of pressure that saw the ball hit into the Rovers box where Shulver was unlucky to see his interception find its way into his own net but this did nothing to take the shine off another fine Rovers performance.