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Rovers u21s 1 Aston Villa u21s 1

25 August 2014

Rovers Under-21s were left to rue a late leveller as they drew 1-1 with Aston Villa on Monday night.

It was an entertaining encounter at Leigh Sports Village with both sides creating a host of chances.

Modou Cham opened the scoring for Rovers in the 23rd minute, finishing well after his initial effort had been blocked, before Dean Rittenberg struck a post and Jordan Preston saw a volley cleared off the line in the second half.

But the visitors weren't without their chances, the lively Calum Robinson denied on several occasions.

Rovers looked to be heading for back-to-back victories but they were caught deep into injury time as Jordan Graham smashed home a 93rd minute equaliser.

There were two changes from the side that defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 in Rovers' opening game of the season a week ago as seniors Jack O'Connell and Yann Songo'o both got a run out for the development squad. Sam Lavelle and David Carson the two to drop to the bench.

At a wet and windy Leigh Sports Village Rovers were the stronger of the two sides in the opening exchanges, Dean Rittenberg and John O'Sullivan both going close early on.

Whilst at the other end David Raya was called upon to make a vital near-post save to thwart Michael Drennan before Riccardo Calder on the follow-up saw his shot deflect wide.

Rovers had the ball in the back of the net on the quarter hour, but Rittenberg was adjudged to be half a yard offside as he headed home Modou Cham's cross.

The home side were back on the attack a minute later but a sliding Jordan Preston just couldn't reach Rittenberg's ball across the area.

Rovers then thought they were to be awarded a first half penalty when Cham went down in the area. The referee looked set to blow his whistle but then appeared to change his mind and waved play on.

It was a decision that Rovers didn't rue for long as they took a 23rd minute lead.

It was a flowing move as O'Sullivan and Preston combined, the ball was swept across the area to where Cham struck it first time, his shot was blocked but the youngster was quickest to react after O'Sullivan had won the ball to nip past the defender to clip the ball over the Villa goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

It was Modou Cham's second goal in only his second start at Under-21 level.

Gordon Cowan's Villa looked to hit back as the first half wore on. Calum Robinson drilling an effort wide with a shot inside the box, before Jordan Graham went closer with a curling shot that went just beyond the far post four minutes before the break.

The second half was just as open as the first with both sides seeing chances come and go, Robinson for the visitors and Cham for Rovers twice being denied.

Just past the hour mark Rovers struck the woodwork when Dean Rittenberg turned well but his shot struck the foot of the post.

Eric Kinder's side then went even closer as Cham crossed for Jordan Preston at the back post, but his well struck shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by Bradley Lewis.

The visitors hit back with a great chance of their own, as David Raya tipped a Jordan Graham shot aside the ball fell for Riccardo Calder but he headed over from close range.

Then Rovers somehow survived a scramble at the back post as Lewis nodded a corner goalwards, defender Jack Doyle in the right place to clear off the line.

The game continued to end to end, but three minutes into five additional at the end of the game Villa drew level.

A long ball to the back post was kept alive by full back Tom Leggett and he played in Graham to smash the ball into the far corner of the net.

It was harsh on Rovers to concede so late, they'd had enough chances to wrap the game up.

ROVERS: Raya, Daly, Doyle, O'Sullivan, Songo'o, O'Connell, Rittenberg (sub Joel 71 mins), Lenihan, Preston, Bauress (c), Cham (sub Carson 80 mins).

Subs not used: Crump, Lavelle, Jorge.

Goals: Cham 23 mins.

Booked: Lenihan.

VILLA: Hill, Leggett, Kinsella, Cowans, Lewis, Toner, Graham, Calder, Drennan, Newby (sub Sellars 60 mins), Robinson.

Subs not used: Webb, Watkins, O'Brien, Wildin.

Goals: Graham 90+3 mins.

Booked: Kinsella.

Attendance: 357

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