A hat-trick from home attacker James Jennings did the damage as Rovers U18s suffered a narrow opening day defeat to Stoke City U18s at Clayton Wood.
In an entertaining clash in the Potteries, both sides had chances prior to Jennings’ opener from the spot on 27 minutes, beating Ben Winterbottom in the Rovers goal after Joel Mvovi was hauled down in the box.
But Rovers hit back and it was from substitute Sam Burns, who made an instant impact by heading home just two minutes after entering the action to level the scores up.
Rovers added what looked like it would have been a late winner after Isaac Whitehall nodded home a Luke Brennan cross with four minutes to go, but to their credit, the hosts kept going.
In the final minute of normal time, Stoke were awarded another penalty after Ibrahima Doucoure was hauled down, with Jennings stepping up to equalise.
And more drama was to come, with the home side taking the lead to ensure heartbreak for a battling Rovers, as Jennings latched onto a ball in the box before rifling past Winterbottom in the fifth minute of extra time to win the game for City.
Stoke City U18s: Broome, Coates, Murphy, Stanton, Akandji (Doucare, 71), Forrester, Jones, Porter, Jennings, Jarrett (Savage, 86), Mvovi.
Subs not used: Wooliscroft, Malone, Verma.
Rovers U18s: Winterbottom, Pike, Garrett, Connolly, Barnes, Boyomo, Durrant (Connell, 57), Wilson, Vale (Burns, 75), Whitehall, Brennan.
Subs not used: Zimba, Eastham.