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FA Youth Cup: Rovers 1 Southend Utd 0

19 December 2015

Rovers' Under-18s advanced into the FA Youth Cup fourth round with a battling victory over Southend United.

Rovers' Under-18s advanced into the FA Youth Cup fourth round with a battling victory over Southend United.

In an action-packed tie, the crucial goal came in the 71st minute as midfielder Willem Tomlinson found the bottom left corner from the penalty spot.

The goal saw Tomlinson hit the same corner in which he did during pre-season when the midfielder bagged for the senior team against Wigan Athetic.

Both sides also had a man sent-off in the second-half, Abdul Salami was dismissed for a foul on Lewis Mansell which led to Rovers' opener and in the 72nd minute, Josh Askew was given his marching orders after an off the ball incident with Southend's Daniel Walker.

The win has rewarded Rovers with a fourth round home tie against Leicester City.

Boss Billy Barr fielded a strong side with defender Ryan Nyambe and midfielder Tomlinson boasting senior squad numbers, whilst the majority of his team have featured for Rovers' Under-21s this campaign.

It was the visitors who had the better of the opening stages at Ewood Park, Thomas Clifford curled a free-kick straight at Andrew Fisher, and shorty after Joseph Bedford raced cleared on goal but shot horribly wide.

After a sluggish start, the hosts started to come in to the game and Tre Pemberton was twice released down the right wing but he failed to take advantage of the opportunities. 

Just before the half-hour mark, Lewis Mansell acrobatically shot at Josh Bexon after some neat build-up play involving Ramirez Howarth.

Then a flurry of chances in a matter of minutes saw Rovers twice denied by the woodwork.

The first came when a Pemberton cross from the right struck the top of the crossbar, and just after, the nippy winger was involved again as a combination of he and Southend skipper Salami struck the underside of the bar from a Rankin-Costello cross/shot.

Straight up at the other end, Southend had a chance of their own as Walker glanced a shot wide of Fisher's right post, before the forward got the better of Scott Wharton but his crisp first-time effort went just wide of the left post.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Bexon raced out to claim a high free-kick, Mansell beat him to the ball and headed goalwards but Rankin-Costello couldn't direct his header on target as the score remained goalless at the break.

Rovers had first sight on goal in the second-half but Tomlinson fired wide from a distance.

But it was the hosts who were then indebted to the woodwork when Clifford superbly curled a free-kick over the wall from 20 yards, goalkeeper Fisher was unmoved but fortunately the ball rattled the crossbar and rebounded out to safety.

Rovers started to up the ante, a Tomlinson ball into the box picked out Pemberton but his header went inches wide of the post. Then Southend were forced to clear a corner and Bexon spilled a Rankin-Costello volley.

However against the run of play, the visitors broke on goal and in truth should have opened the scoring.

Winger Norman Pitoula Wabo danced his way past three Rovers players, but as he went through on goal he was thwarted by the legs of Fisher.

Rovers thought they had opened the scoring in the 68th minute when Wharton headed in a Tomlinson free-kick but the goal was disallowed for offside.

However, just three minutes later, the hosts took the lead from the penalty spot and Southend were reduced to 10-men.

Frontman Mansell broke in on goal, but as he looked to pull the trigger he was hauled down by Salami.

Referee Alan Clayton awarded the spotkick and duly gave the Southend skipper his marching orders.

Tomlinson stepped up and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner with Bexon going the opposite way.

Rovers, however, didn't have the one-man advantage for long as the teams were evened up a mere 60 seconds later.

Askew and Walker clashed in an off the ball incident, and after a brief chat with his assistant, Clayton produced the red card for a second time, sending the Rovers left back off.

The closing stages saw the game open up with both sides having chances at goal. Southend substitute Damani Dias saw a shot deflected wide, before Rovers' sub' Mason Fawns volleyed a Howarth cross in to the side netting.

Keeper Bexon got a vital touch to clear a low Tomlinson cross, and it wasn't long before Southend were again on the back foot as Fawns fired over from a Tomlinson free-kick.

In the final minutes the Shrimpers had a chance to send the game into extra time, but Harry Phillips saw his shot go agonisingly wide to ensure it was Rovers who progressed in the competition.. 

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Askew, Wharton (c), C. Doyle, Rankin-Costello, Tomlinson, Mols (Fawns 78), Howarth (Steer 86), Pemberton (Travis 64), Mansell.

Subs not used: Ascroft, Grayson.

Goals: Tomlinson (pen) 71.

Booked: Mansell 

Off: Askew

SOUTHEND UNITED: Bexon, Bwomono, Clifford, Bedford, MacKenzie, Salami (c), Pitoula Wabo, Batlowka, Walker, Phillips, Gard (Dias 65)

Subs not used: Bishop, Musselwhite, Ripsher, Matthews.

Booked: Bwomono

Off: Salami

Attendance: 292

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