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Report: Rovers Under-23s 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s

Rovers suffer a home defeat to the Londoners, with second half strikes from Brad Lyons and Sam Durrant not enough

7 December 2020

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A disappointing first half display proved to be Rovers' undoing as Billy Barr's side missed the chance to go top of Premier League 2 Division 1 following defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at a freezing cold County Ground.

A poor start saw Rovers go behind after only three minutes when Kion Etete smashed home from close range before the visitors' lead was doubled through Maurizio Pochettino just after the half hour mark.

It was a half of few chances for the hosts, with the returning Dan Butterworth feeding off scraps in his first game of 2020 following a long injury lay-off.

Brad Lyons found the net for the second successive game to give Rovers hope of a comeback just moments into the second half to spark the team into life, only for Harvey White to put Spurs 3-1 up from the spot with under 20 minutes remaining.

And although Sam Durrant pulled one back shortly after, it wasn't to be for Rovers who couldn't find a third goal for their efforts in the dying embers of a game that was played in Baltic conditions.

Rovers almost got themselves off to the worst possible start, with Louie Annesley lucky that his backpass towards Antonis Stergiakis didn't end up in his own net, with the ball sliding inches past the post in the opening couple of minutes.

However, from the resulting corner Rovers weren't as fortunate, with the visitors taking the lead from a set piece.

An inswinging corner missed everyone, but nobody was keeping tabs on Kion Etete, who slammed home at the back post from close range with just three minutes played.

Rovers were struggling to test Spurs at the other end, and things got worse for the shell-shocked hosts just after the half hour mark.

A stray pass from the otherwise excellent Stergiakis was cut out by Pochettino, and he thumped home into the back of the net before the Greek stopper could get back in time.

Billy Barr's side did work a rare chance moments later, but Butterworth couldn't mark his return with a goal as his free kick whistled past Brandon Austin's right-hand post with half time looming.

Barr wouldn't have been happy with his side's first half showing, but whatever he said at the interval certainly worked as Lyons pulled a goal back just two minutes into the second half.

The Northern Irish midfielder ghosted into the box unmarked to powerfully nod home Harry Chapman's deep cross to score with Rovers' first attempt on target in the encounter.

The goal gave Rovers confidence, but there was still plenty to do at the other end as Spurs came out fighting.

It took a superb fingertip stop from Stergiakis to keep Rovers in the game soon after, with the Greek brilliantly dipping over White's effort before getting down quickly to push away a downward header from the resulting corner.

However, White wasn't to be denied, and had the chance to beat Stergiakis from the spot with 23 minutes remaining when Sam Barnes was harshly adjudged to have tripped Alfie Devine in the box.

White stepped up from 12 yards to confidently send the Rovers 'keeper the wrong way and slot into the bottom left-hand corner to ensure Wayne Burnett's side regained their two-goal advantage.

But Rovers weren't done and hit back almost immediately through substitute Durrant's precise hit. 

After picking up the ball on the right, the midfielder drove inside before firing home off the base of the left-hand post to repond in the perfect way and set up a granstand final 17 minutes.

In what was becoming an end-to-end finale, Spurs went back on the attack, but Jack Clarke sent a dipping free kick over the upright, before Chapman's inviting cross wasn't connected with by a lurking Sam Burns as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes at a freezing Leyland.

Rovers continued to press, with Chapman sending a strike crashing just wide as Rovers kept probing and continued to push Spurs back in their attempts to find a late equaliser.

There was more fine goalkeeping from Stergiakis with a couple of minutes to go, with the 21-year-old out bravely to deny Devine after Marcel Lavinier's surge forward opened things up.

But it wasn't to be for Rovers, who will come away disappointed that the chance to go to the summit of the division slipped through their fingers.

Next up for Rovers is a trip to Liverpool on Saturday 12th December, kick-off 1pm.

Rovers Under-23s: Stergiakis, Pike (Saadi, 37), Barnes, Annesley, Grayson (c), Thompson, Whitehall, Lyons, Burns, Butterworth (Durrant, 46), Chapman.

Unused substitutes: Eastham, Weston, Pratt.

Goal: Lyons, 47, Durrant, 73.

Booked: Barnes, 15, Annesley, 23, Saadi, 70.

Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s: Austin, Okendina (c), Lavinier, Marsh, Luyons-Foster, Omole, Pochettino (Thorpe, 74), White, Etete, Devine, Clarke.

Unused substitutes: Kurylowicz, Mukendi, Pedder, Skinner.

Goal: Etete, 3, Pochettino, 32, White pen, 67.

Booked: Marsh, 38, Omole, 86,

Referee: Matthew Dicicco.

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