Noah Dougherty
Monday 29 April 2019

Academy Manager Scott Bartlett praised the Under 18s’ mentality after coming from behind twice to beat Leyton Orient 7-3 in their final league game of the season.

Rovers fell behind on two occaisions in the first half but responded each time through outstanding midfielder Sam Hendy before sparking into life in the second period.

Ethan Hill capped off the win with a calmly taken curling effort at the death after a typically well worked set play, a strike that proved enough to catch Plymouth, handing Under 18s the Merit League Two title.

“I felt like we could’ve scored two or three before they made it 1-0,” said Bartlett, whose side knew they had to win by five clear goals to clinch the league title on goal difference or by 4 clear goals to become joint winners of the EFL Merit League 2.

“ It was exciting for the players because it gave the game some importance, we knew that Plymouth had won heavily the day before and that we were 3 points and 4 goals behind going into the game. I think we were caught out early on in the game a bit too easily, we were probably a bit too open in transition and anxious to start well.

“The boys are a resilient group, and we’ve been like that all season and apart from maybe Gillingham away we have been pleased with them.

“They’re all passionate about the football club and I think that shows.

“Sam Hendy got the goal to bring us back into the game and he’s been unbelievable for us all season, he’s a real leader in the team and has added so much to his game.

“Getting the second goal just before half-time was key for us in terms of stopping their momentum.”

Rovers took control in the second half, scoring four goals in a 20 minute spell against tough opposition in difficult conditions.

Braces for Dan Jones and Jay Malshanskyj were added to by substitute Destiny Oladipo to put the hosts in a dominant position.

Rovers conceded late on after pushing for a fifth second-half goal yet went on to win the title with Plymouth after rounding off a dominant display with their seventh deep into injury time.

“We came out in the second-half a bit calmer in front of goal and, with the wind making for tough conditions throughout the game, we asked them to be a bit more patient in the final third”

Bartlett is not dwelling on the side’s success however, and is already looking to the summer and preparing for the next campaign and believes, having gained Category Three status last year, they are in a strong position to kick on.

“We didn’t panic last season when we found it tough and we wont get carried away after achieving something this year. League tables are not important at this level of the game but It does reflect well on us and shows a vast improvement in a short space of time.

“I’m really excited for next season, they still have loads to do as individuals, so many areas to improve but that’s our job as a club to identify and then help with that development. We have a bit to do to ensure we keep improving but we have the building blocks in place” Bartlett said.