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Barrow 3 Rovers u21s 3 (Rovers win 5-4 on penalties)

8 September 2015

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Rovers' Under-21s edged their way into the next round of the Lancashire Senior Cup courtesy of a penalty shootout win over Barrow.

After the match had finished 3-3 the game went to penalties with John O'Sullivan striking the decisive spot-kick after nothing could separate the two sides after 90 minutes.

It was an entertaining encounter from start to finish at the Furness Building Society Stadium, the hosts taking an early lead through Andy Cook, but O'Sullivan's deflected shot saw Rovers quickly back on level terms.

Connor Mahoney then put the visitors in front with a superb strike, but the Bluebirds ensured it would be all-square at the break as Danny Livesey poked home.

The second half saw Mahoney get his second on the night with a lovely solo goal, but again they were unable to hold onto their lead as a Dan Pilkington centre found it's way through to the back of the net.

Both sides pressed in the closing stages, but neither goal was threatened further meaning the tie would be settled from the penalty spot.

The first eight spot-kicks were all converted, but Niall Cowperthwaite saw Barrow's last kick saved by Rovers keeper Luke Simpson, which allowed O'Sullivan to send the visitors through.

It was Rovers who were strong starters at Holker Street with Luke Wall and John O'Sullivan lively in the opening exchanges. However it was the hosts who stunned Rovers by grabbing the first goal of the game after just 13 minutes.

Lovely play from the Bluebirds saw Elliot Newby and Andy Cook exchange passes before Cook steered the ball beyond trialist goalkeeper Luke Simpson from just inside the area.

Rovers almost levelled immediately as an excellent cross from Wall picked up Connor Mahoney, but his shot on the volley was blocked.

But as the young Rovers continued to force proceedings, they deservedly drew level on 18. John O'Sullivan advanced on the Barrow goal before seeing his shot deflect of Mo Fofana and loop over keeper Aaron Taylor.

In what was an opening game of attacking football, Scott Wharton missed with a free header at one end, before Simpson twice saved well to deny Dan Pilkington at the other.

On 37 Rovers took the lead with a quality move and finish. Under pressure just outside his own area, Sacha Petshi hit a lovely ball out to the right for Mahoney to race onto, and the young Rover advanced before beating Taylor at his near post from fully 25-yards.

But credit to the National League side, they came straight back to ensure the scores were level at the break.

After Cook and Cowperthwaite had gone close, a short corner saw Newby find Barrow captain Danny Livesey at the near post and his close-range strike deflected home.

Rovers made a change at the break with Lewis Mansell, who missed Saturday's Academy win over Derby County with tonsillitis, replaced by Dean Rittenberg.

With four goals scored in the first half, it didn't take long before a fifth followed as Rovers went back in front.

There seemed little on for Mahoney as he looked to advance down the right flank, but as the winger took the ball to the byline, he cut inside and dribbled it goalwards before finding the back of the net from an impossible angle.

However the home side hit back once more with an equaliser that should have been prevented on 57.

After a free-kick had been cleared to the left, Pilkington put the ball back into the box, but Sam Lavelle inexplicably missed his clearance which gave Simpson no chance as he watched the ball roll into the net.

Lavelle was inches away from redeeming himself when he just failed to get on the end of a delicate Mahoney free-kick, whilst at the other end substitute Alex Newby put a low shot just the wrong side of the post.

With the prospect of penalties to decide the tie both sides pressed for a late winner, Ben van den Broek drove into the side-netting for Barrow, before fellow substitute Modou Cham saw a late lob tipped over the bar. But no further goals were added meaning the match was to be decided by spot-kicks.

The first eight penalties were converted with aplomb, but penalty number nine saw Niall Cowperthwaite's spot-kick well saved by Simpson.

That meant that Rovers could seal progress with their final penalty kick of their five and it was down to their most experienced player on the park - John O'Sullivan - to take the responsibility and the Irishman made no mistake from 12-yards.

It was an excellent advert for football and a great test for the young Rovers against a newly promoted Barrow side looking to impress.

BARROW: Taylor, Carroll, Ashton, Livesey (c) (sub van den Broek 46 mins), Cowperthwaite, Pilkington (sub A. Newby 66 mins), Mellor, Fofana, Symington, Cook (sub Walker 72 mins), E. Newby.

Subs not used: Eccles, Haworth.

Goals: Cook 13 mins, Livesey 41 mins, Pilkington 57 mins.

Booked: None.

ROVERS: Simpson, Nyambe, Doyle, Petshi (sub Thomson 79 mins), Lavelle (c), Wharton, Mahoney, Carson, Mansell (sub Rittenberg 46 mins), O'Sullivan, Wall (sub Cham 90 mins).

Subs not used: Crump, Edgar.

Goals: O'Sullivan 18 mins, Mahoney 37 mins, 53 mins.

Booked: None.

Attendance: 346

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