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Rovers U21s 2 Tottenham U21s 2

10 February 2014

Corry Evans got a much-needed hour under his belt on an evening where Rovers came from behind twice at Leigh Sports Village.

The Northern Ireland international made his first start in over four months as goals from Dean Rittenberg and Aaron Tumwa saw Rovers draw an entertaining encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.

Bryan Dabo made his first outing in a Rovers shirt, playing the full match, whilst Lucas Neill was granted permission to play for the club, the Australian also playing the full game.

It was the visitors who lead at the break thanks to a fine strike from Ruben Lameiras, but Rovers hit back well in the second half and deservedly levelled through Dean Rittenberg on 81 minutes.

Spurs quickly regained the lead when Shaquile Coulthirst headed home, but Rovers were full value for a point as Aaron Tumwa scored with three minutes remaining on a pleasing night for the Under-21s.

At a chilly Leigh Sports Village the first half was light on chances but not on endeavour from the two young sides. Of the opportunities created the majority went the way of the visitors.

On seven minutes a Kenneth McEvoy centre opened up the Rovers defence, but Souleymane Coulibaly couldn't connect from close-range as the ball flashed across the box.

At the other end a lovely pass from Connor Mahoney sent Hugo Fernandez on the overlap, his cross also just eluding both Bradley Bauress and Deniz Pero.

A Fernandez error almost lead to Spurs opening the scoring soon afterwards but Shaquile Coulthirst's shot was straight at David Raya.

Corry Evans was neat and tidy in the centre of the park, Lucas Neill a composed figure at the heart of the Rovers defence, whilst the more advanced Bryan Dabo was a nuisance to the Tottenham defence.

On 37 minutes the French Under-21 international crossed from the right but a first-time effort from Bradley Bauress was claimed in the corner by Spurs 'keeper Jordan Archer.

However just when it looked like the two sides would go in level at the break, it was Tottenham who struck.

An effort from Aaron McEneff deflected into the path of Ruben Lameiras and the playmaker's first-time shot flew in off the foot of the post.

The ball rolled along the line but nestled into the opposite corner of the goal as the visitors lead at the break.

It could have been more had Souleymane Coulibaly's free-kick had not clipped the top of the crossbar.

That late goal didn't dampen Rovers' spirits as they came out strongly in the second period.

Connor Mahoney crossed to Deniz Pero in the box when then teed up Bryan Dabo to take strike but his shot curled away from goal.

Rovers continued to force the pace, Corry Evans the next to take aim after a scramble but his shot deflected for a corner kick.

Just past the hour mark Evans made way, it had been a good workout for the Northern Ireland international. Robbie Cotton replaced Evans whilst Will Beesley came on for Bradley Bauress.

Deniz Pero then had three attempts at goal as play continued towards the Tottenham end. His first, a fearsome shot that flew narrowly over, his second, straight at the 'keeper. Then a headed chance went begging as the striker nodded over the bar.

It was to be his last action of the game as Dean Rittenberg came on to replace.

The visitors had offered little as an attacking force in the second half, but on 69 minutes goalscorer Lameiras went close to doubling his side's lead but his curling free-kick went just beyond the far post.

Nine minutes from time Rovers grabbed the goal their play deserved as substitutes Will Beesley and Dean Rittenberg combined to good effect.

Beesley battled well to earn possession in the centre before threading it through to Rittenberg and the forward, who had bagged a hat-trick for the Under-18s when the two side's met at Brockhall back in September, raced through to finish with composure. His first for the Under-21s.

But almost straight away Rovers were pegged back once more. On 84 minutes a Laste Dombaxe free-kick found Shaquile Coulthirst in far too much space in the box and he glanced the ball home.

To their credit Rovers' heads didn't drop and a third goal soon followed, all in the space of six frantic minutes.

This time it was a Rovers free-kick and as Robbie Cotton sent the ball into the mix, it first skimmed off Ryan Edwards and Lucas Neill before Aaron Tumwa diverted it goalwards.

Despite the best efforts of the Tottenham defender on the line, the ball flew into the roof of the net much to the delight of the Rovers players.

The closing few minutes were a little fraught as Tottenham searched for a third goal to seal the match, but Rovers fought hard to claim a well-earned point.

ROVERS: Raya, Fernandez, Tumwa, Evans (sub Cotton 62 mins), Edwards, Neill, Mahoney, Lenihan (c), Pero (sub Rittenberg 67 mins), Dabo, Bauress (sub Beesley 62 mins).

Subs not used: Urwin, Preston.

Goals: Rittenberg 81 mins, Tumwa 87 mins.

Booked: Lenihan.

SPURS: Archer, A. McQueen, Stewart (c), Veljkovic, Gallifuoco, Ball, McEvoy, McEneff (sub Dombaxe 72 mins), Coulibaly (sub McQueen 83 mins), Coulthirst, Lameiras (sub Sonupe 83 mins).

Subs not used: Dombaxe, McGee.

Goals: Lameiras 39 mins, Coulthirst 84 mins.

Booked: Gallifuoco, Veljkovic, Stewart, Dombaxe.

Attendance: 366

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