Matty Warhust ended a magnificent season with a hat-trick as City came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2.

City twice trailed to 10th-placed Rovers at the Blackburn Rovers Training Centre in our final game of the U18s Premier League North campaign.

But Warhurst levelled each time and eventually headed home the winner late on to take his tally to 21 as Ben Wilkinson‘s side ended a magnificent campaign on a high.

What happened

City’s Under-18s wrapped up an impressive campaign in a keenly-contested and at times feisty Lancashire derby.

And the game was less than seven minutes old when it exploded into life.

Rovers struck first with a well-worked goal with Stephen Edmondson’s cross in from the right finding the diving header of Zack Stritch in the hosts’ first attack of note.

The Blues equalised immediately as Farid Alfa-Ruprecht’s low cross into the box was cleverly flicked home by top scorer Matty Warhurst to make it 1-1.

Both teams exchanged blows without really testing either keeper in the 25 minutes that followed, but a poor City clearance allowed Rovers to re-take the lead as skipper Matty Litherland sent an angled shot past Jack Wint from the edge of the box.

City trailed 2-1 at the break but emerged looking determined to get back in the game after the restart.

The Blues levelled on 56 minutes as sub Matty Henderson-Hall lofted a fine pass towards the far post where Warhurst struck a measured low shot past Solomon Honor for his 20th of a magnificent season.

City were now bossing proceedings, keeping possession much better than the first period and pinning Rovers into their own final third.

On 76 minutes, the Blues took the lead for the first time with a goal that will have delighted head coach Ben Wilkinson.

Henderson-Hall played Alex Alcala in behind the Rovers defence and his superb cross found - who else - the head of Matty Warhurst who sent a thumping header home to complete his hat-trick and secure a 3-2 win in the process.

Rovers had a couple of half-chances in added time, but anything other than a win for the visitors would have been harsh.


Blackburn Rovers: Honor, Doherty, Powell, Davies, Shorrocks (Farkas 68), Litherland, Edmondson (Boggan 71), Willis, Nsangou (Diamini 81), Stritch, Matthews

Subs: Houghton, Ramwell

City: Wint, Okeke, Thomas, Fapetu, Naylor, Gray (Henderson-Hall 46), Alfa-Ruprecht (Headley 67), Heskey (C), Warhurst, Oboavwoduo, Alcala (Samba 81)

Subs: Grant

What it means

City finish second in the Under-18s Premier League North table, six points adrift of champions Manchester United and 15 clear of third-placed Wolves.

With the FA Youth Cup secured, it has been another excellent campaign from Wilkinson’s young charges who can now look forward to a summer break before returning for the 2024/25 season ready to go.

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