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Development Squad

PL Cup report: Rovers 2 Cardiff City 1

27 February 2017

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Rovers' development squad secured their place in the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup after a 2-1 win over Cardiff City.

A first half brace from Joe Rankin-Costello was enough for Damien Johnson's side to claim a sixth consecutive win, and progress through to the last 16 of the competition.
Tommie Hoban and Elliott Ward both played 90 minutes on their return to action, the pair looking composed at the back throughout.
Rovers should have had more goals to their name such was their level of play, instead it was the Bluebirds who grabbed a consolation goal with the last kick of the game as Rhys Abbruzzese tapped home.
The win sees Rovers top their group, their final match is against second-placed Sunderland this Thursday at Leyland.
A head of the game Damien Johnson was able to call upon the experience of Tommie Hoban and Elliott Ward for the match against Cardiff City, but it was the youngsters in the squad that really caught the eye early on.
An 7th minute corner from Joe Grayson saw Rovers deliver a threatening ball into the box, Ward just failed to connect at the near post, instead it reached Lewis Mansell at the back, but his low shot was saved by the legs of Oliver Byrne in the Cardiff goal.
At the other end a miscued cross from Cameron Coxe almost caught out Andy Fisher, before James White fired wide when well placed at the edge of the box.
But those two chances would be the only sight of goal the Bluebirds would get in a dominant first half from the Rovers.
On 24 minutes Daniel Butterworth spread play out wide to the willing Jack Doyle, but his low ball across the six-yard box just failed to find Mansell sliding in at the back.
However less than 60 seconds later Rovers would grab the opening goal with yet more fine wing play.
Lewis Travis and Stefan Mols combined to good effect down the right, and although Mols was pulled back, the referee correctly allowed play to continue as a Travis centre was fired home by the fast arriving Rankin-Costello.
That sparked a period of play from which Rovers created a host of further chances. Another centre from Travis found Rankin-Costello once more but Byrne made a fantastic stop.
But on 35 minutes Rovers grabbed the second goal their play deserved. A surging run from Butterworth saw the young striker slip the ball in to Rankin-Costello and he confidently found the back of the net.
Rovers could have added to their tally as half drew to a close, Doyle again threatening down the left, his pass picked out Butterworth who's first touch took him past the defender, but left-footed he put his shot just wide.
In contrast to the first half, there were fewer chances of note in the second.
The early openings saw Ward curl a chance from a corner just over the bar, before both he and Hoban blocked an attempt at goal from Jamie Bird.
But in what became a midfield battle, Rovers lost both Butterworth and Doyle to injury, their play lacking the precision so evident in the first half.
Despite this they should have added further goals to their tally as the game opened up in the closing stages. 
On 80 minutes good play by Mansell saw him hold off his man and drive into the box, however his ball across the area was just too far ahead of substitute Tre Pemberton.
Moments later another chance fell to Mansell after being fed by the lively Lewis Hardcastle, but the Rovers striker failed to beat the Cardiff Keeper.
At the other end a rare opening for the visitors allowed Ibrahim Meite to get a shot away, but it didn’t trouble Fisher in the Rovers goal. Whilst Mark Harris saw his strike whistle past the upright.
Rankin-Costello went close to grabbing a hat-trick goal two minutes into five added at the end of the match, but his effort across goal flashed narrowly wide. Seconds later the midfielder bustled his way into the area once more but his shot was saved by Byrne.
But as Rovers looked to have seen the game out, the Bluebirds grabbed a consolation goal with the last kick of the game.
Harris saw his shot saved by Fisher, but Abbruzzese was in the right place to tap home the rebound.
Already guaranteed of a two top finish and progression through to the knockout stages of the competition, Rovers end their group stage this Thursday lunchtime at home to second placed Sunderland.
ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, Doyle (sub Magloire 72 mins), Grayson, Ward, Hoban, Mols, Hardcastle (c), Mansell, Butterworth (sub Pemberton 60 mins), Rankin-Costello.
Subs not used: Ascroft (GK), Jackson, Hendry.
Goals: Rankin-Costello 25, 35 mins.
Booked: Travis 73 mins.
CARDIFF: Byrne, Coxe, Abbruzzese, Veale (c), Blaise (sub Young 87 mins), Bodenham, White, Weymans (sub Humphries 62 mins), Harris, Bird (sub Southam 71 mins), Meite.
Subs not used: Burwood (GK).
Goals: Abbruzzese 90+5 mins.
Booked: Weymans 45+1 mins, Blaise 58 mins, Bird 70 mins, Humphries 85 mins.
Attendance: 177.

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