It was a successful weekend for the Academy, as the U18's recorded a 4-1 win over Swindon Town in the EFL Youth Alliance.
The U18's showed character to recover from an early setback and went on to score four unanswered goals - with the pleasing aspect of the result being that two U16's were on the scoresheet, as both Sam Heal and Joe Budd grabbed goals in Saturday's win.
Speaking after the game, Lead Professional Development Phase Coach, Tom Parrinello, spoke about his delight of the all-round performance from the group, "We were eager to bounce back from last week's 4-2 defeat at home to Portsmouth and we faced Swindon Town at Cribbs eager to complete a league double over them this season.
"We had spoken in the build-up to the game a lot about the ability to manage different spells in the game and also the ability to cut out the big mistakes from individuals that had really hindered our points return so far this season.
"We knew Swindon would be physical and direct in their style of play and that we would have to be resolute and strong defensively to deal with what they would throw at us. In a scrappy opening period to the game in which we were forced to defend balls into the box and a few set pieces, Swindon did take the lead from a corner which we didn't defend well enough.
"The goal provoked a reaction from the players and the response was swift. Ollie Hulbert breaking down the right after intercepting a pass on the half way line, and he squared the ball for Sam Heal, who controlled and swivelled and placed his effort into the corner of the net. We then took the lead from an absolutely fantastic strike from Joe Budd. Latching on to a second ball 25 yards from goal, he unleashed a brilliant half volley which flew into the top corner.
"Scott Isherwood added a third on 34 minutes when he tapped in a rebound after the goalkeeper had dropped Tom Mehew's clever free kick. The message at half time was to weather Swindon's spell when they would have one and if the boys managed to do that then they would go on to win the game and maybe even add some gloss to the score line.
"Swindon's spell came straight after the restart. The most pleasing aspect of the day for us was the way the boys managed the game when the pressure started the build. They were organised and compact out of possession and limited Swindon to only balls in the box and some sustained periods of possession which was what we had asked of them, especially after last week's performance.
"Once the spell was over, the players regained a foothold within the game and added a fourth with the final kick of the game. Kieran Phillips latching on to a long ball to fire across the keeper for the final piece of the action. The game finished 4-1 and the boys ran out well-deserved winners. Overall it was a really positive morning - the performance and result were both there as well as the ability to take information on board from the staff and implement it into a game.
"There were also outstanding performances from Tom Mehew and Levi Paul, as well as two players returning from long term injuries in Kieran Phillips and Lucas Tomlinson, who had previously been out for 6 months.
"To get two U16's on the scoresheet as well capped off a good morning's work in which we hope to continue this Tuesday at home to Newport County."
The 18's are back in action on Tuesday, as they entertain Newport County at Locklease - kick-off 10:30am.
Rovers: 1. Harry Thomas-Barker, 2. Luca Hoole. 3. Levi Paul, 4. Tom Mehew (c), 5. Scott Isherwood, 6. Jamie Bremner, 7. Sam Heal, 8. Lewis Clutton, 9. Ollie Hulbert, 10. Joe Budd, 11. Zain Walker
Subs:20. Jed Ward, 14. Lucas Tomlinson, 15. Findlay Blackman, 16. Mason Raymond,17. Kieran Phillips