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Development Squad

Report: Rovers U23s 2 Stoke City U23s 0

Goals from Rankin-Costello and C. Doyle secure a second successive 2-0 win

30 October 2017

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Rovers Under-23s made it back-to-back PL2 wins with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Stoke City at the County Ground.

After an uneventful first-half, goals from Joe Rankin-Costello and Charley Doyle secured the points for Damien Johnson's side.

Rovers opened the scoring on 55 minutes when Doyle's shot struck the post and Rankin-Costello converted the rebound.

Less than 10 minutes later and Doyle doubled Rovers' lead with a perfectly-placed volley from a left-wing cross.

Lewis Mansell missed a glorious chance to add a third 20 minutes from time and from the same attack, the referee collided with a Stoke defender and was unable to continue.

In what was a competitive and bruising encounter, Rovers lost both Stefan Mols and Rankin-Costello to injury, whilst Stoke skipper Mark Waddington was stretchered off in the 15th minute of added time.

With the first team in action against Fleetwood on Tuesday and the Under-18s getting their FA Youth Cup campaign underway on Wednesday, Johnson made five changes to the side that won 2-0 at Newcastle in their previous Premier League 2 outing.

Andy Fisher, Jack Doyle, Connor Thomson, Mansell and trialist Josh Kay were the players to come into the side, with Sam Hart, Rekeem Harper and Joe Nuttall all promoted to the senior squad.

Six of the Stoke starting line-up, including former Rovers winger Tre Pemberton, started the Checkatrade Trophy clash between the two clubs earlier in the season, in which Nuttall netted the only goal of the game.

There was little to chose between the two sides early on, with Thibaud Verlinden's cross which grazed the crossbar the only attack of note in the opening quarter of an hour.

Rovers then threatened twice in quick succession, with Mols centring for Mansell, who was unable to convert the cross, before the Rovers striker blazed over the bar from the edge of the box.

The hosts were dealt a blow at the midway point in the half, as Mols was cynically fouled by Waddington, who was booked, and the young Spaniard had to be stretchered off.

That meant defender Charley Doyle moved into midfield and he would go on to have a big part to play in the result.

As the half drew to a close, Lewis Travis made a superb last-ditch tackle to deby Daniel Jarvis, before Verlinden played a ball through to Josh Tymon, but Fisher saved well at his near post.

In added time at the end of the first half, Matty Platt almost diverted a cross from the right into the back of his own net, but Fisher made a superb reaction save.

Stoke registered the first attempt of the second half, on 55 minutes, as Ollie Shenton let fly from 25 yards out and Fisher dived to his right to palm the ball away.

Rovers then went straight down the other end and opened the scoring.

Charley Doyle created space for a shot, his curling effort from the edge of the area bounced back off the foot of the post and Rankin-Costello reacted quickest to slide in the rebound.

Rovers came close to a second on 63 minutes as Kay unleashed a fierce strike from the edge of the area, but Daniel Gyollai made a superb diving save.

However, Rovers did double their lead less than 60 seconds later. Jack Doyle delivered a cross from the left and Charley Doyle guided a first-time volley into the bottom corner.

There was a bizarre passage of play on 70 minutes, as Gyollai sliced a clearance straight up in the air to Mansell, who failed to beat the keeper with the goal at his mercy and he then slipped as he looked to fire home the follow-up.

From the same attack, referee Matthew Donohue collided with Stoke defender Tom Edwards and, after lengthy treatment to a head wound, the official was unable to continue.

On 86 minutes, Rovers almost added a third when Jack Doyle's low drive seemed destined to find the bottom corner, but Harry Souttar somehow cleared the ball off the line.

Over 15 minutes of added time were played at the end of the game, in which Rankin-Costello limped off for Rovers and Waddington was stretchered off for Stoke, as Rovers saw the game out to secure a second successive 2-0 win.

ROVERS: Fisher, Travis, C. Doyle, Platt, Wharton, J. Doyle, Mols (Magloire 23), Thomson, Kay (Wright 84), Rankin-Costello (Butterworth 90), Mansell.
Subs not used: Albinson, Evans.

Goals: Rankin-Costello (55), C. Doyle (64).

Booked: Travis, Magloire.

STOKE: Gyollai, Edwards (Banks 84), Tymon, Waddington (Sorensen 90), Souttar, Wara, Pemberton (Campbell 67), Shenton, Ngoy, Jarvis, Verlinden.
Subs not used: Deczki, Hill.

Booked: Waddington.

Attendance: 290

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