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Chelsea u18s 3 Rovers u18s 1 (4-1 on aggregate)

8 April 2016

First half errors proved costly as Rovers went out of the FA Youth Cup at the hands of Chelsea.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Ewood three weeks ago, their task was made all the more difficult when Dujon Sterling fired the home side in front 13 minutes into the match at Stamford Bridge.

Rovers were still well in the tie until uncharacteristic mistakes from Scott Wharton and Willem Tomlinson in the space of five first half minutes saw Chelsea stretch their advantage as Jacob Maddox and Tammy Abraham took full advantage.

Behing 4-0 on aggregate Billy Barr's side could have thrown in the towel, but to their credit they put in a second half performance deserving of their place in the last four of the competition.

Their play was rewarded with a goal on 62 minutes. Josh Askew's fine run and cross was powerfully headed home by top scorer Lewis Mansell.

Joe Rankin-Costello went close on two further occasions, and had one of those gone in then it could have lead to an interesting end to the game, but as it was Chelsea were able to see the match out to clinch a place in the final against Manchester City.

Rovers started positively under the bright Stamford Bridge lights, looking to take the game to their hosts from the off.

Needing to overcome the one-goal deficit from the first leg, they forced a series of early corners but couldn't make anything of them.

But a tough ask was made all the harder when the hosts grabbed the opening goal out of nothing after 13 minutes.

Mukhtar Ali, impressive when the two sides met at Ewood three weeks earlier, played a lovely curling ball that dissected the Rovers back line and Sterling raced in to fire home.

Again Rovers went on the front foot, pushing Chelsea back, earning yet more corners. But Matthew Platt headed wide, before Tomlinson was well off target with a left-footed strike.

Chelsea were content to soak up the Rovers pressure and hit their opponents on the counter-attack. Abraham just wide with on curling shot, Platt back in time to thwart another.

But it was uncharacteristic errors that proved to be the Lancashire club's downfall with the Premier League side taking full advantage.

On 30 minutes captain Scott Wharton carelessly squandered possession and as Abraham found Sterling, he played in Maddox who rounded Andy Fisher and found the back of the net.

Four minutes later and another mistake was emphatically punished. This time Tomlinson with a loose pass and Abraham slammed home off the far post.

The hosts saw a fourth chalked off for handball as the half drew to a close. The three first half goals leaving Rovers with a near impossible task.

With little more than pride to play for, to their credit the young Rovers didn't let their heads drop in the second half.

After knocking on the door, they finally grabbed a goal their play deserved on 62 minutes.

Ever the willing runner, Josh Askew took full advantage of space down the left before sending over a near post cross that Mansell headed home emphatically.

Top scorer for both the Under-18 and 21 sides this season, it was the forward's first goal in this season's cup competition.

Moments later and Rovers almost had a second. Again it was a ball in from the left, Mansell flicked on to Rankin-Costello but his looping header was tipped over by a back-pedalling Nathan Baxter in the Chelsea goal.

Unbowed Rovers threatened again on 70 minutes with Rankin-Costello showing a neat turn and touch. The midfielder unfortunate to see his shot flash just the wrong side of the upright.

With Rovers pushing bodies forward they were always susceptible on the counter. After Rovers wantd play pulled back after Platt looked to have been fouled, Abraham squared for Mason Mount, but Fisher made an impressive stop.

A further counter-attack from Chelsea five minutes from time saw Fisher called upon once more to keep out a strike from Maddox.

Despite heading out of the competition Rovers continued to press until the final whistle, they can be proud of their performances in this season's competition.

CHELSEA: Baxter, Grant, Tomori, Clarke-Salter (c) (sub Colley 71 mins), Chalobah (sub Wakefield 71 mins), Sammut, Sterling, Ali (sub Christie-Davies 77 mins), Abraham, Mount, Maddox.

Subs not used: Cumming (GK), Ugbo.

Goals: Sterling 13 mins, Maddox 30 mins, Abraham 35 mins.

Booked: None.

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Askew, Hardcastle, Platt, Wharton (c), Pemberton (sub Steer 82 mins), Rankin-Costello, Mansell, Tomlinson (sub Grayson 63 mins), Howarth (sub Fawns 71 mins).

Subs not used: Ascroft (GK), Magloire.

Goals: Mansell 62 mins.

Booked: Hardcastle.

Attendance: 3702

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