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Development Squad

Report: Morecambe 0 Rovers U23s 3

Rovers march on in the Lancashire Senior Cup

2 January 2018

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Rovers U23s reached the semi-finals stage of the Lancashire Senior Cup with an accomplished display and victory at Morecambe on Tuesday afternoon.

Three second half goals proved the difference for Damien Johnson's side, against a Morecambe side who were reduced to ten men midway through the half.

Matty Platt's finish set Rovers on their way before a Lewis Hardcastle penalty and a late Callum Wright tap in sealed progress in the competition.

There were three changes from the last Under-23s game at Southampton with Andy Fisher coming in for Charlie Albinson, Jack Doyle returning from injury and replacing Sam Hart, and scholar John Buckley starting in central midfield instead of Willem Tomlinson, who has now become part of the first team setup.

Johnson was boosted by the return of Joe Rankin-Costello - who scored both goals in the victory over Wigan in the previous round of the competition. The midfielder returning to the squad after missing the last few games through injury.

Hosts Morecambe included first team player and former Rover Dean Winnard at the heart of their defence.

In a quiet opening 15 minutes, it was Rovers who created the first opportunity of the game but Platt couldn't quite connect his header on target after Joe Grayson's excellent inswinging corner.

A moment later and Dan Butterworth blasted wide from range as Rovers looked to get a foothold in the game.

Next to try his luck was Lewis Mansell, who could only curl over the upright after a defensive mixup involving Winnard and Nathan Dutton-Kay.

Rovers were getting closer to an opener and a deep cross from Lewis Travis was inadvertently headed goalwards by Olly Crankshaw and the Morecambe man was thankful for his goalkeeper Niall Maher for turning it round the post on 22 minutes.

Johnson's side were cranking up the pressure and Charley Doyle glanced wide after another good Grayson delivery.

It was all Rovers and Butterworth's left-footed effort took adeflection, looped up and went agonisingly past Maher's post with half time not far away.

The closest the hosts came to scoring was on the counter attack, which resulted in Crankshaw's drive being comfortably held by Fisher with just five minutes of the half remaining.

It was a dominant display from the young Rovers, but they went into the break with nothing to show for their efforts.

After the break, Jack Doyle thumped goalward but saw Maher equal to his powerful effort.

But just a moment later, Rovers did take a deserved lead as Wright beat his man before finding Platt, who poked home from close range.

Just seven minutes later and Rovers doubled their advantage as skipper Hardcastle cooly slotted home a penalty after a foul in the box by Ben Ingham, who was duly sent off for his indiscretion, just a moment before the hour mark.

Soon after and substitute Rankin-Costello came close to marking his return with a goal but Maher was down to save after an excellent cross from the right from Travis.

Rovers were keeping possession comfortably against the Shrimps, with Travis especially being a real menace for the hosts.

And it was the Rovers right back who played a part in the third goal just two minutes from time.

His cross foung Wright, who, after being denied at first by Maher, made no mistake in firing home the rebound with just a couple of minutes remaining.

It was almost four just a moment later when Travis again was the architect in finding Hardcastle, whose effort was saved.

As it was, that was the final action of the game as a dominant Rovers sealed progress to the semi-finals, where they have been drawn at home to Bury at a date TBC.

MorecambeMaher, Dutton-Kay, Ingham, Moore, Winnard (Twiname, 46), Willingham (Fletcher, 52), Jordan, Hedley, Hawley, Yawson (Coady, 62), Crankshaw.

Unused substitutes: Jumeau.

Sent off: Ingham.

Rovers U23s: Fisher, C. Doyle, J. Doyle (Evans, 60), Buckley, Platt (Magloire, 89), Grayson, Travis, Hardcastle (c), Mansell (Rankin-Costello, 48), Butterworth, Wright.

Unused substitutes: Dillon, Thomson.

Goals: Platt, 51, Hardcastle (pen), 60, Wright, 88.

Booked: Buckley

Referee: Darren Handley.

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