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Aston Villa u18s 1 Rovers u18s 2

1 February 2016

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Tre Pemberton struck a 90th minute winner as Rovers came from behind to defeat Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.

The forward pounced with mere seconds remaining to send Rovers' youngsters through to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

Rovers had to do it the hard way when, despite dominating the match, they found themselves a goal down at the break after Scott Wharton unfortunately put through his own net.

But after striking the post in the first half, Lewis Hardcastle made no mistake in the second when he fired home after Willem Tomlinson's corner was only half-cleared.

Both sides pressed for a winner in the closing stages but with extra-time looming large, Lewis Mansell chased a long ball through on goal, but whilst his effort was saved, Pemberton was on hand to snap up the rebound, side-footing in from 25-yards.

The result means Rovers now face a home tie against either Preston North End or Luton Town in the last eight.

Billy Barr made two changes from the side that knocked out Leicester City in the previous round.

Josh Askew returned after suspension, replacing Lewis Travis who dropped to the bench. Whilst Joel Steer, who got the 120th minute winner against the Foxes, started as Ramirez Howarth missed out though injury.

The hosts were fortunate not to be down to ten men within 15 seconds of the start as a high and late challenge by Callum O'Hare on Tre Pemberton left the attacker prone on the Villa Park pitch. The Villa man somewhat fortunate to only receive a yellow card.

Thankfully after treatment Pemberton was able to continue and picked himself up to fashion the first chance of the game on nine minutes.

The winger showed good anticipation to pick out Lewis Mansell in the area, but whilst the striker's flick saw the ball beat the keeper, it also went past the far post.

Two minutes later Mansell was involved once more as he collected a return pass from Joe Rankin-Costello, but Villa keeper Viktor Johansson got down well to save.

It was certainly one-way traffic in an excellent opening 15 minutes for the Rovers. Only a last-ditch challenge from defender Mitch Clark stopped Steer from getting his shot away, before Matty Platt couldn't keep his header down from the resulting corner.

Then a lovely flowing move saw Lewis Hardcastle find Pemberton on the right, his centre picked out Mansell but the Academy top scorer couldn't find that vital touch in front of goal.

Despite the constant pressure from the Rovers, it was the home side who grabbed the lead just past the midway point of the half.

Corey Taylor showed good pace down the right before delivering into the area, O'Hara connected but the ball rebounded off the unfortunate Scott Wharton and into the back of his own net.

Rovers looked to come back from the disappointment of conceding as more trickery from Pemberton saw him feed Steer, but the forward's effort was blocked.

Then two minutes before the break Rovers were the width of a post away from getting a deserved goal. Again Pemberton the provider, finding Hardcastle inside the box, the midfielder showed great awareness to lift the ball over his marker, but his left-footed volley struck the post.

The start of the second half saw Villa almost double their advantage. O'Hare hitting an audacious shot from the corner of the area that left Fisher stranded, the ball bouncing off the crossbar and away to safety.

But after escaping at one end, Rovers finally got the goal their play had deserved at the other.

On 54, Willem Tomlinson sent over a corner from the right and although it was initially cleared, it came out as far as Hardcastle who sent it through the crowded area and into the back of the net.

That goal had been a long time coming, and a minute later Rovers were close to making it two. Rankin-Costello brilliantly controlling a long ball with his outstretched boot before flicking goalwards with the other only to see the effort flash inches wide.

Mansell would miss a great chance to put the visitors in front on 68 minutes from another Tomlinson delivery, but whilst the striker rose well at the back post, he couldn't direct his free header on target.

He then turned provider following good work on the touchline to find Rankin-Costello, but the midfielder's curling effort went beyond the far post. 

Villa sub Jack Clarke struck the side-netting in a rare attack from the home side, before a sensational forward run from Ryan Nyambe saw the defender reach the area only to sky his effort.

The game was becoming increasingly stretched as it entered the latter stages. Green blazing over when well placed for Aston Villa, Tomlinson inches away from with a long-range strike for the blue and whites.

In the previous round it took a 120th minute winner for Rovers to progress, but with the game set for added-time once more the visitors managed to grab the match-winning goal a little earlier on this occasion.

As the match approached 90 minutes a threaded pass saw Mansell in on goal and although his effort was well-saved, the ball came out to man-of-the-match Tre Pemberton who steered it into the back of the net to spark jubilant scenes.

It was yet another sensational way to win a match, and one that was thoroughly deserved, but it should have been wrapped up long before it finally was.

ASTON VILLA: Johansson, Clark, Abdoul (sub Cox 90+2 mins), Zeidan (sub Clarke 60 mins), Coates, Suliman (c), Taylor, Hayes, Mooney (sub Hailey 74 mins), O'Hare, Green.

Subs not used: Idem (GK), Humphries.

Goals: Wharton (OG) 24 mins.

Booked: O'Hare

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Platt, Wharton (c), Askew, Hardcastle, Tomlinson, Rankin-Costello, Pemberton, Mansell, Steer.

Subs: Travis, Ascroft (GK), Grayson, Mols, Fawns.

Goals: Hardcastle 54 mins, Pemberton 90 mins

Booked: None.

Attendance: 809

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