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Report: Brighton & Hove Albion Under-23s 1-2 Rovers Under-23s

Sam Durrant nets a 90th minute winner as Rovers earn victory on the road to return to winning ways

23 November 2020

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Sam Durrant netted a 90th minute winner to earn all three points for Rovers against a Brighton & Hove Albion side that played the second half with 10 men.

The midfielder was lurking in the box to turn home an Isaac Whitehall cross from the right to spark brilliant scenes for Billy Barr's side in Sussex.

Rovers came from behind with Durrant's strike the second in the final 13 minutes after Connor McBride equalised from the penalty spot after he was shoved in the box.

The forward stroked home from 12 yards after Jenson Weir had given the hosts the advantage on the stroke of half time.

There was still drama to come after Weir's opener, with Ed Turns being shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Dan Pike just seconds before the half time whistle.

As expected, Rovers bossed the second half and deservedly got the three points their play deserved to return to winning ways in dramatic style.

Barr made seven changes to the team that started against Arsenal Under-23s last time out, with Dan Pike, Sam Barnes, Jalil Saadi and Lewis Thompson the only survivors from the defeat against the Gunners before the international break.

The most notable inclusion in the hosts' starting XI was Colombian international winger Jose Izquierdo, who lined up on the left flank for Simon Rusk's side.

It took until the 17th minute for the first attempt, but it was a comfortable save for Carl Rushworth in the Brighton goal after Harry Chapman cut in from the left before curling towards goal.

Soon after and Chapman had an even better opportunity to break the deadlock. Good work from Sam Barnes saw the defender rob Izquierdo, but after Jared Harlock fed Chapman, the winger could only guide an attempt wide of goal.

Despite Rovers having the majority of the play, it was Albion who took the lead on the stroke of half time through Weir's precise finish.

The midfielder, who signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer, ventured upfield to get on the end of Izquierdo's intelligent cut back, and gave Jordan Eastham no chance with a finish that arrowed into the bottom corner.

More drama was to arrive just a moment later though, with Turns being shown a straight red card for a cynical challenge on Pike just seconds before the half time whistle arrived. 

Turns' departure meant the Sussex side would be a man light and play on the counter attack, and that nearly worked inside the opening two minutes of the second half, when Reda Khadra led a breakaway before Stefan Vukoje fired over the upright.

Rovers were having plenty of shows as the clock ticked down to the final 20 minutes, but the likes of Jake Garrett, Harlock and Durrant couldn't beat the busy Rushworth.

Barr's boys were fortunate not to go two goals behind at the other end, with Jack Spong cutting out Eastham's attempted pass before crashing a powerful strike against the upright, with Eastham gratefully claiming the rebound.

Rover kept persevering and earned a chance to level from the spot with 13 minutes remaining. Pike's tantalising cross looked destined for the head of McBride, but a shove in the back saw the referee have no choice but to point to the spot.

The Scot dusted himself down to slot home and send Rushworth the wrong way to set up a dramatic ending to the game in Sussex.

Rovers were going for the jugular and Durrant was just inches away from putting Rovers in front before Harlock's left-footed effort took a deflection prior to being headed off the line.

Despite Durrant coming agonisingly close, seconds later his despair turned to elation as he turned home what was to be the winner five minutes into added time to spark joyous scenes and win the game for the visitors.

Rovers are next in action on Friday 27th November when Everton's Under-23s head to Leyland, kick-off 7pm at the County Ground.

Brighton & Hove Albion Under-23s: Rushworth, Yapi (Spong, 68), Tanimowo, Weir, Turns, Tsoungui, Khadra (Cashman, 62), Jenks (c), Vukoje, Leonard, Izquierdo (Packham, 46).

Unused substitutes: Desbois, Ella.

Goal: Weir, 45.

Sent off: Turns, 45.

Booked: Leonard, 15, Yapi, 45.

Rovers: Eastham, Pike, Barnes, Grayson (c), Garrett, Thompson, Durrant, Saadi (Whitehall, 46), Harlock, Burns, Chapman (McBride, 68).

Unused substitutes: Stergiakis, Annesley.

Booked: Grayson.

Goals: McBride pen, 77, Durrant, 90.

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