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Report: Rovers 2 Oldham Athletic 2

Stokes and Feeney on target in final Checkatrade outing

8 November 2016

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Rovers ended their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with an entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Oldham Athletic.

Needing to win well to stand any chance of progressing through to the knockout stage, Rovers took the game to their League One opponents in the first half and led at the break thanks to Anthony Stokes' superb solo strike.
However, Oldham came roaring back after the break, with substitute Freddie Ladapo levelling the scores for the visitors four minutes after the restart.
Liam Feeney restored Rovers' advantage in stunning style just past the hour mark, but the lead didn't last long, as Oldham skipper Brian Wilson turned in the equaliser soon after.
With no further goals in normal time, the game went to penalties to determine which team would take home the bonus point.
All square at 4-4 after the first five spot-kicks, Feeney blazed over the bar in sudden death and Lee Croft coolly converted his penalty to seal the extra point.
Rovers' rising stars can take plenty of heart from the way they have performed against senior opposition throughout the competition, but ultimately they finish bottom of Group D with just one point to show for their efforts. 
Rovers named a strong side for the Ewood encounter, with eight of Damien Johnson's starting line-up having played first team football for the club this season.
Stokes and Elliott Bennett led the attack, with Feeney and Connor Mahoney supporting from the flanks.
David Raya started in goal, with Stephen Hendrie and Ryan Nyambe filling the full-back roles and skipper Scott Wharton partnering fit-again Wes Brown at the centre of defence.
On a wet and wintry night in East Lancashire, Oldham registered the first attempt of the game on three minutes, as Josh Law tried his luck from the edge of the area, but his shot sailed well over the bar.
Rovers had an excellent opportunity to make an early breakthrough soon after, countering quickly from an Oldham corner, but Feeney's centre for the unmarked Mahoney was just cut out by the Latics keeper.
Mahoney created a chance for himself on 16 minutes, cutting in from the left and shooting right-footed from the edge of the area, but Connor Ripley made a smart save down at his near post.
The hosts did open the scoring with their next attack, at the midway point in the half. Raya's long kick was flicked on by Nyambe into the path of Stokes, who took the ball onto his left foot, before bending a beautiful shot with the outside of his boot into the top corner.
Oldham responded with a couple of efforts off target, before Jamie Reckord swung over a cross from the left and Ryan Flynn glanced a header wide of the far post.
Rovers came close to doubling their lead a minute before the break in similar circumstances. Feeney delivered a cross from the right and Bennett's glancing header whistled a whisker wide of the far post.
Oldham made a double change at the break, with Ladapo and Croft coming on for Calaum Jahraldo-Martin and Reckord, and the substitutes made an immediate impact.
The visitors almost equalised straight from the restart as Ladapo cut the ball back from the byline and Flynn's strike rattled the crossbar.
A minute later, Ladapo's crisp strike from the edge of the area flew just wide, but the Latics did draw level on 49 minutes. The two substitutes combined, as Croft's centre was fired home by Ladapo with a fine first-time finish.
On 52 minutes, Croft again crossed from the right and Charles Dunne's downward header had to tipped over the bar by Raya. 
Rovers had a chance moments later, as a ball in from the right fell at the feet of Stokes, but his touch was too heavy and the keeper claimed. Stokes then saw a shot from long range roll comfortably into Ripley's arms.
However, just past the hour mark and Rovers did regain the lead, as Feeney let fly from 30 yards out and his stunning strike flew into the top right corner.
Mahoney came close to adding a third a minute later, but his left-foot shot curled inches past the far post.
Instead, it was the visitors who struck next on 67 minutes. Ollie Banks swung over a free-kick from the left and Wilson turned it home in the centre.
The final chance of note came on 79 minutes when Bennett swung in a free-kick from the right, but Stokes headed just wide. 
So to penalties, and Rovers raced into an early lead, as Stokes and Bennett both fired home, whilst Law struck the bar for the visitors.
However, Tomlinson's saved spot-kick allowed Oldham back in. Rovers' Lewis Hardcastle and Mahoney made no mistake, and successful spot-kicks from Billy Mckay, goalkeeper Ripley and substitute Ryan McLaughlin levelled things up.
Feeney then blazed over the bar in sudden death, before Croft converted his penalty, to send the loud Latics supporters home happy with an extra point.
ROVERS: Raya, Nyambe, Wharton (c), Brown, Hendrie (Doyle 65), Feeney, Hardcastle, Tomlinson, Mahoney, Bennett, Stokes.
Subs not used: Fisher, Magloire, Platt, Travis, Thomson, Rittenberg.
Goals: Stokes (22), Feeney (61)
OLDHAM ATHLETIC: Ripley, Law, Wilson (c), Burgess, Dunne, Reckord (Croft 46), Fane, Banks, Flynn (McLaughlin 65), Mckay, Jahraldo-Martin (Ladapo 46).
Subs not used: Kettings, King, Osei, Klok.
Goals: Ladapo (49), Wilson (67)
Attendance: 471

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