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READ | Youngsters book date with Fleetwood in Youth Alliance Cup Northern Section final

5 February 2020

Club News

READ | Youngsters book date with Fleetwood in Youth Alliance Cup Northern Section final

5 February 2020

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Rotherham United's Academy booked themselves a date in the Youth Alliance Cup Northern Section final with Fleetwood Town having overcome Preston North End in the semi-finals of the competition with a 3-1 win.

Ciaran Toner’s youngsters showed fantastic resolve to overturn a 1-0 deficit to see off the challenge of their Lancashire counterparts and earn them a place in the showpiece final against Fleetwood Town.

The Millers were left with some work to do after the Lilywhites had edged their noses in front but Jacob Gratton fired the hosts level on 19 minutes. The turnaround would be completed in the second half and was initiated by the same player who restored parity in the first.

Gratton was again the man on the scoresheet, this time on 62 minutes to establish the lead for his side, before Ciaran McGuckin put daylight between the two teams with another goal which followed just five minutes later, to make it 3-1 and ensure the Millers a place in the final of the competition.

Speaking following the triumph over the Lilywhites, Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Ciaran Toner said:

"We always knew coming into the game that it was going to be a real tough ask and that we'd have to get the players to perform to a level that we know they can do.

"For me, it was one of those games where on the whole, every one of the players really stepped up and delivered a good performance.

"I think that collective output ended up giving us the upper hand in the game. 

"Could Preston have won the game, yes, they could have - they had some chances and Charlie made some key saves at key times. 

"We scored two goals in eight minutes after their goal and I think that reaction really took the wind out of their sails. Although the scoreline looks slightly convincing, it was far from that and I must stress that Preston are a really good side.

"I think for us to come away with a win in a semi-final, when it is the real deal and it was a 'business game' so to speak it is great that they turned up and performed under what was a bit of pressure.

"We made no secret of the fact that there was pressure on the lads before the game and it was about who was able to step up. There were some outstanding performances and I thought to a man, everyone played really well.

"It leads us onto the final against Fleetwood, which, although we got the better of them in a fixture earlier on in the season in the league part of this competition, I was really impressed with them.

"They're another good side and it is another tough ask.”

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