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Development Squad

Report: Stoke U23s 1 Rovers U23s 4

Joe Rankin-Costello is the star of the show as Rovers advance to the last eight

15 March 2019

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Joe Rankin-Costello scored twice as Rovers Under-23s booked their place in the last eight of the Premier League Cup with a 4-1 win away to Stoke City.

Rovers dominated the game for long spells and opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Hayden Carter converted from close range after Rankin-Costello's header was saved.

Stoke equalised against the run of play when captain Nathan Collins headed home from a corner, but Rovers scored three times without reply after the break to progress to the next round.

Rankin-Costello restored Rovers' lead with an exquisite effort on 50 minutes, before Jack Vale made it 3-1 with a cool finish following Charley Doyle's superb solo run.

Rankin-Costello added his second of the night in the final minute to round off a fantastic performance from Damien Johnson's side.

Ahead of the game, Johnson named an unchanged side from the one that came back from two goals down to draw at home to Brighton in Premier League 2 on Monday night.

With the first team on duty at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Johnson was unable to call upon the likes of Ben Brereton, Joe Nuttall and Tyler Magloire, who made his senior debut in the midweek week over Wigan.

Harry Chapman, who netted a stunning strike against the Seagulls, and Jacob Davenport were once again given an opportunity to step up their fitness, as they look to force their way into manager Tony Mowbray's first team plans.

Stoke, who finished top of their Premier League Cup group, headed into the clash on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, which included six straight wins and 23 goals scored.

They included former Rovers youngster Tre Pemberton in their starting line-up, but they were no match for the visitors on the night.

Rovers started strongly and ought to have taken the lead inside two minutes. John Buckley broke forward from midfield and played in Dan Butterworth, who was denied one-on-one by Daniel Gyollai.

Soon after, Lewis Thompson supplied a cross from the left and Stefan Mols' flick deflected behind for a corner.

Rovers' bright start was rewarded with the opening goal on the quarter-hour mark. Doyle delivered a cross from the right, Rankin-Costello's header was superbly saved by Gyollai at point-blank range, but Carter was on hand to stab home the rebound.

Buoyed by the goal, the Rovers defender tried his luck from distance minutes later, but his shot deflected just wide.

However, at the midway point in the half, and with their first real foray forward, Stoke equalised. Joshua Tymon delivered a corner from the left and the towering Collins headed home from 10 yards out.

Rovers almost hit back when Chapman latched onto a loose ball and fired goalwards left-footed, but Gyollai made a smart save with his legs.

Just past the half-hour mark, Gabriel Kyeremateng's cross found the unmarked Pemberton, whose first effort was brilliantly blocked by Carter and his follow-up was superbly saved by Charlie Albinson.

As the half drew to a close, Jake Dunwoody's low drive was straight at Albinson, before Chapman's 25-yard free-kick was well saved by Gyollai at the other end.

Just as they did in the first half, Rovers made a strong start to the second and regained the lead on 50 minutes with a terrific team goal.

After some superb flowing football down the right, Rankin-Costello danced past several Stoke players before seeing his shot nestle in the far corner.

Chapman, who was looking lively down the left, curled just wide of the far post, before Butterworth twice got to the byline to create chances, but Thompson saw his shot saved by Gyollai's legs.

The third Rovers goal was coming and it duly arrived on 67 minutes and again in fine style. Doyle brought the ball out from defence, before skipping past several players as he broke to the edge of the area. He then played in Vale, who coolly stroked the ball past the Stoke stopper.

Stoke threatened on 72 minutes when Gabriel Kyeremateng headed straight at Albinson and Rovers were given a let-off on 85 minutes when Albinson fumbled a free-kick, but Rankin-Costello was on hand to block the Stoke shot on the line.

And the Rovers right-back capped a superb individual display with his second of the night in the 90th minute. Thompson's cross from the left picked out the unmarked Rankin-Costello, whose initial header was saved, but he fired in the follow-up.

It was a thoroughly deserved victory for Johnson's side, who return to league action with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday April 8th.

STOKE: Gyollai, Wara, Tymon (Niakate 65), Dunwoody, Collins (c), McJannett, Pemberton, Jarvis, Kyeremateng, Shenton, Toure (Balde 68 (Twyford 82)).
Subs not used: Kanuric, Varian.

Goal: Collins (21).

ROVERS: Albinson, Rankin-Costello, C. Doyle (c), Carter, Thompson, Davenport (Garrett 89), Buckley (Saadi 80), Mols, Chapman, Butterworth (Whitehall 89), Vale.
Subs not used: Eastham, Pike.

Goals: Carter (15), Rankin-Costello (50, 90), Vale (67).

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