Georgie Gent scored a spectacular extra-time winner as Rovers booked their place in the semi-finals of the U17 Premier League Cup with a 1-0 win over Leeds United.
After over 100 minutes of goalless football, Gent’s 40-yard strike from the left touchline flew into the far top corner to seal Rovers’ place in the last four of the inaugural competition.
It was the perfect response from Rovers’ youngsters, who were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Arsenal at the fourth round stage on Saturday.
Rovers, who made six changes to the side that started against the Gunners, were the better side in the first half, but struggled to create many clear-cut chances, with Alex Baker’s swerving shot saved on 13 minutes and Joe Ferguson thwarted just past the half-hour mark after a clever reverse pass from Harrison Wood.
And the hosts had goalkeeper Aidan Dowling to thank just a minute before the break, as the Rovers stopper made a superb save to deny Leeds’ Lui Bradbury.
The visitors threatened again at the start of the second half when a cross from the right bounced back off the bar and the follow-up was fired just wide, before another effort flew just over the upright.
On the hour mark, after excellent hold-up play by Baker, he freed Gent down the left, but after bursting into the box, he blazed over the bar. Moments later, the impressive Baker crossed to the unmarked Wood, but his free header was straight at the Leeds keeper.
Good football by Rovers on 73 minutes ended with Wood again firing a shot straight at the Leeds stopper, who then produced a sensational save five minutes later to tip Gent’s top corner-bound free-kick over the bar.
As nothing could separate the two teams in normal time, an extra 30 minutes was required to see who would progress to the semi-final stage.
Dowling denied a Leeds substitute two minutes into extra-time, before Jay Haddow’s crisp strike forced a fine save from the Leeds number one. Baker and Gent then both fired left-foot strikes straight at the keeper.
Still goalless at the interval, Rovers finally made the breakthrough less than a minute after the restart. With 106 minutes on the clock, Gent let fly from the left touchline and his cross-come-shot caught out the Leeds keeper and flew into the far corner.
Rovers ought to have added to their tally on the break in the closing stages, but Ben Fyles’ shot was superbly saved by the keeper’s legs on 119 minutes, before Zak Gilsenan was denied when clean through on goal a minute later.
Leeds were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when their centre-back saw red for a reckless challenge, as Rovers advanced to the last four, where they will face either Leicester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Southampton or Brighton & Hove Albion.
ROVERS: Dowling, Ferguson, Gamble, Pratt, Gent, Haddow, Weston, Fyles, Gilsenan (Cunningham 120+2), Wharton (Wood 11), Baker (c).
Sub not used: Montgomery.
Goal: Gent (106)