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Rovers fall at first hurdle

11 December 2012

Rovers Under-18s 1-3 Leicester City Under-18s.

Rovers' Under-18s crashed out at the first attempt as they were defeated 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup by Leicester City.

The home side were no match for a lively Foxes outfit who overcame the shock of going behind to Brice Wassi's 19th minute opener to level just past the half hour through striker Harrison Panayiotou.

The Leicester frontman was a constant thorn in the Rovers side and it was from a foul on Panayiotou that the visitors would grab their second on 52 minutes, Jak McCourt curling the ball into the bottom corner.

A difficult task was made worse for Rovers on 68 minutes when Panayiotou again had a hand in proceedings, this time laying on the cross for his strike-partner Joseph Dodoo to fire home.

The young Rovers worked tirelessly throughout but after last years endeavours that saw them reach the final, this year's crop couldn't follow suit.

Terry McPhillips' side were dealt a blow in the run-up to the game with striker Curtis Haley missing out through illness, Kellen Daly absent with a muscle strain and Danny Laverty with an ankle knock.

That meant a line-up that contained just three players from last season's successful campaign, this year's recruits having big shoes to fill.

In icy conditions it was the Foxes who had the first chance of the game. There was an element fortune as Michael Cain's shot deflected goalwards, but the Leicester midfielder was then unlucky to see the ball hit the inside of the post and bounce across the area to safety.

Rovers responded with a chance of their own. A spell of pressure saw Leicester City goalkeeper Josh Smith half clear, but as Modou Cham headed back into the danger zone, Jordan Preston helped it on only to be denied by a one-handed save from the Leicester 'keeper.

The first goal of the game didn't take long to follow when on 19 minutes a cross from Will Beesley, one of the few players involved in last year's run to the final, arrived at the feet of Brice Wassi. The midfielder took a touch before finding the bottom corner with a left-foot strike for his second goal this season.

Wassi then very nearly went from hero to villain as it was his wayward pass that played in Harrison Panayiotou, the forward teed up Joseph Dodo, but David Raya in the Rovers goal made a tremendous one-handed save.

Rovers' lead didn't last much longer however as the visitors equalised just past the half hour. After Will Beesley had fouled Herve Pepe Ngoma, the free-kick was sent to the back post where Panayiotou nodded over Raya and into the back of the net despite the best of efforts from Bradley Bauress on the line.

The scores were level at the break but six minutes into the second half it was Leicester City celebrating once more.

The lively Panayiotou saw his forward run halted by a tug from Bradley Bauress, and whilst the Rovers defender was perhaps fortunate to escape with just a yellow card, Rovers as a collective paid the price as Jak McCourt curled the resulting free kick past the wall and into the corner of the net to make it 2-1.

Rovers should have made it 2-2 moments later when following a strong run down the right from Jordan Anderson his cross found Jordan Preston ten yards out, but the forward couldn't connect cleanly with the ball and the chance was gone.

McPhillips' side would pay the price as Leicester went up the end to grab a deserved third goal.

It had been coming as the Foxes built up a head of steam, Panayiotou again playing the provider to square for Joseph Dodoo to finish emphatically.

Terry McPhillips sent on Robbie Cotton and Deniz Pero and to Rovers' credit they didn't let their heads drop as they continued to push for a way back into the game.

A Cotton ball over the top found the run of Antonie Boland, but although he connected well on the volley, his shot lacked power and was easily claimed by Smith. At the other end Raya saved well to stop Michael Cain making it 4-1.

Deniz Pero went close to reducing arrears as the game entered added time, chasing a ball from Robbie Cotton the young German shot goalwards but his effort was well saved.

After last season's heroics it was always going to be a big ask for this season's recruits to live up to the expectations placed upon them. They worked hard against Leicester City but the visitors had that quality and experience when it counted.

The Academy have little time to ponder as they play their final game of the first half of the season against Arsenal this Friday.

ROVERS: Raya, Anderson, Beesley, Brown (c), Bauress, Thompson, Ware, Boland, Preston (sub Pero 62 mins), Wassi (sub Cotton 62 mins), Cham.

Subs not used: Butterwick, Rittenberg, Humphreys.

Goals: Wassi 19 mins.

Booked: Bauress.

LEICESTER CITY: Smith, Ngoma, Samba, McCourt, Anton, Elder, Paratore (c), Cain, Panayiotou, Dodoo, Greenway-Tambini.

Subs not used: Stankevicius, Varnham, Downes, Casey, Bailey.

Goals: Panayiotou 32 mins, McCourt 52 mins, Dodoo 68 mins.

Booked: Dodoo.

Attendance: 349

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