Early scare but Rovers progress
Rovers fielded a much-changed line-up for this cup tie and Manager Tony Fontanelle also took the opportunity to involve new signings in Keanu Williams, Ty Ward and Jamie Carey-Morrell in the starting line-up. Early doors, the Rovers side took time to settle and immediately ex-Rover Tony Williams Jr was in on goal but made a mess of his finish and the ball sailed harmlessly wide. Rovers striker Connor Vincent was next to threaten with just 3 minutes gone but failed to bring Sam Irish in the United goal into action as his shot failed to hit the target. The opening goal wasn’t long delayed when 5 minutes in Williams Jr made up for his earlier miss with a cross-shot from 18 yards that nestled behind Mike McCormack in the Rovers goal to put the visitors ahead. Connor Furlong had a chance for Rovers in the 11th minute but a carving run through the United defence was wasted with an ineffective finish into the arms of Irish. Just 18 minutes in though United doubled their lead when some statuesque Rovers defending let Rafe Goodman cross from the left allowing Sam Dowridge to head home. Rovers hit back and spurned opportunities to score when centre-back Kai Phelan headed straight at Irish from a corner after 27 minutes and then striker Keanu Wiliams headed wide from a free-kick with 32 minutes gone. However, Rovers pressure paid dividends when Vincent lobbed Irish from well outside the box after 34 minutes to get Rovers back into this match. Regrettably, Ty Ward had to leave the pitch with an injury to be replaced by Charlie Smith just before half-time with Rovers reverting to three at the back. Williams Jr ought to have restored United’s two-goal advantage when firing over from almost under the bar on 39 minutes and this proved costly as up popped Rovers stalwart Paul Andrews with an equaliser, after a goalmouth scramble, with 41 minutes played and this took the teams in level at half-time.
The introduction of Smith saw him pulling the strings for Rovers in midfield and the home side were carrying a more assured air about them as the second half got underway. Furlong was looking sharp on the left wing and forced a Rovers corner on 49 minutes but nothing came of the opportunity. A piercing Leon Okuboyejo run down the right ended with a superb square ball that found Vincent in acres of space in the box and he doubled his tally on the night to fire the homesters ahead on the night with 51 minutes gone. Midfielder George Boland was unlucky not to score his first Rovers goal when a wonderful finger-tip Irish save denied him after 56 minutes. The dangerous Dowridge almost pulled the sides level on 67 minutes but his shot drifted narrowly wide of goal. With 73 minutes gone Boland looked to have got his goal but seemed to have been denied by an assistant’s flag until the referee intervened and, correctly, awarded the goal to provide Rovers with a two-goal cushion. McCormack was called into action when a Williams Jr shot threatened after 76 minutes but Rovers’ Williams ought to have put a scoring seal on this match but somehow, with the goal gaping in added time, screwed his shot wide. Rovers then progress into the next round following an entertaining match played in a good spirit.
Rovers Team: McCormack, Ward (Smith 38), Palmer, Carey-Morrell, Andrews, Phelan, Okuboyejo (Ingham 77), Boland, Vincent (Tshikuna 6), Williams, Furlong.
Rovers MOM: Connor Vincent