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Match Reports

PL Cup Report: Aston Villa U23s 2 Rovers U23s 0

A goal in each half does the damage as Rovers head out of the Premier League Cup

16 March 2018

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A goal in each half did the damage for Rovers, who bowed out of the Premier League Cup at the hands of Aston Villa on Friday evening.

Goals from Kelsey Mooney and Calum O'Hare eliminated Rovers, whose evening was made worse due to the returning Harry Chapman lasting just 10 minutes of the game after picking up a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

The positives were the fact a number of Under-18 players got their opportunity at Villa Park, and certainly looked at home playing at the higher level.

Chapman started for the first time in five months in the Midlands, whilst Joe Grayson was also in the XI after missing out on the trip to Stoke City last time out in Premier League 2.

Those were two incomings from that game against the Potters, with the other - Lewis Travis - the third change to the starting side, with Hayden Carter, Lewis Mansell and Jack Vale being replaced; the latter being on the bench and available to Damien Johnson if required.

Just 40 seconds into the game and Rovers were behind after O'Hare threaded the ball through to Mooney, who placed the ball beyond Andy Fisher into the bottom left corner.

Rovers responded well though and a moment later, Chapman almost nipped in but saw home 'keeper Matija Sarkic grab the ball before the Rovers man.

It was a lively opening in the Midlands, and at the other end Alex Prosser nearly got in after more O'Hare creation, but Fisher read the danger well.

Rovers and Chapman were dealt a blow a couple of minutes later as Chapman pulled up and had to be replaced by Vale.

Fresh from signing his first professional contract earlier in the day, Vale was having an instant impact and his pace was causing a problem for the Villa defence, as the visitors searched for an equaliser.

Despite having the majority of the play, Rovers were struggling to really test Sarkic, who did what he had to do well.

With six minutes to go until the break, Willem Tomlinson saw his sweetly struck effort blocked excellently before Charley Doyle looped a head inches wide of the post in Rovers' best opportunity of the half.

Rovers looked for a quickfire equaliser after the break and Vale couldn't quite connect with Okera Simmonds' pull back just a minute into the half.

Vale did connect 10 minutes into the second 45 though as he latched onto John Buckley's through ball but after beating Sarkic by rolling the ball into the net, saw the flag up for offside.

Just after the hour and Rovers came so close to finding a route back into the game as Simmonds was set free, jinked inside but cracked the crossbar with his left-footed effort.

Rovers were knocking the ball around with plenty of confidence but still went without reward for their efforts as the mid-point in the half arose.

With 15 to go, Grayson, whose dad Simon of course played for both Rovers and Villa, tested Sarkic with a free kick, but the 'keeper kept hold of the effort, before having to tip over Jack Evans' testing ball into the box a moment later.

But with nine minutes remaining, and against the run of play, O'Hare was rewarded for his fine individual display by rifling a low, 25-yard strike beyond Fisher to add daylight to the hosts' lead.

The second strike knocked Rovers back, and despite keeping their heads up, couldn't find that goal their play at the very least deserved.

Johnson's charges are back in Premier League 2 action on Tuesday 20th March at home to Southampton at Leyland, kick-off 7pm.

Aston Villa U23s: Sarkic, Walker, Clark, Finnerty, Bedeau, Clarke, O'Hare (c), Prosser, Mooney (Oduntayo, 80), Doyle-Hayes, Cox (Abdo, 68).

Unused substitutes: Idemim, Bazeley-Graham, Brunt.

Goal: Mooney, 1, O'Hare, 81

Booked: Bedeau, 38, Clark, 60, O'Hare, 61

Rovers U23s: Fisher, C. Doyle, Magloire (Barnes, 87), Grayson, Travis, Evans (Thompson, 89), Hardcastle (c), Buckley, Tomlinson, Chapman (Vale, 11) Simmonds. 

Unused substitutes: Byrne, Platt.

Booked: Tomlinson, 34, Magloire, 60, Buckley, 80

Referee: Joe Hull

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