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Development Squad

Report: Chelsea Under-23s 1-0 Rovers Under-23s

Daniel Ayala gets 60 minutes uner his belt, as Billy Barr's side suffer narrow away defeat

1 May 2021

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Daniel Ayala made his comeback from injury, as a contentious Chelsea goal proved the difference between the two teams at Kingsmeadow.

The Rovers defender, who hasn’t featured for the first team since the end of December, got 60 minutes under his belt in the capital, as he battles back to full fitness.

The Spaniard was one of five changes to the side that lost 2-0 at home to Derby County last time out, with Jordan Eastham, Sam Barnes, Jake Garrett and Dan Butterworth also coming back into the side at the expense of Antonis Stergiakis, Jalil Saadi, Luke Nock, Jared Harlock and Joe Nolan.

In an uneventful first half, Rovers came closest to breaking the deadlock on 24 minutes when Sam Burns’ deflected towards the bottom corner, but Ethan Wady pulled off a superb reaction save low to his right.

The hosts made a bright start to the second half and scored the only goal of the game on 50 minutes, in controversial circumstances. Charlie Webster’s shot deflected into the path of George Nunn, who stroked home from close range and the goal was allowed to stand despite loud and lengthy appeals for offside.

After Ayala was replaced by Joe Nolan on the hour mark, the midfielder was a whisker away from making an immediate impact, as he volleyed inches over the bar after getting on the end of a clever ball over the top.

Garrett then saw a cross-shot from the left tipped over the bar, before Butterworth almost salvaged a point for Rovers late on, but his strike from the edge of the area whistled just past the post.

The second successive defeat saw Billy Barr’s side slip to fourth in the Premier League 2 table and Rovers will renew rivalries with Chelsea this coming Friday in the final fixture of the season, kick-off 4pm at the County Ground, knowing that victory will secure at least a top three finish.

CHELSEA: Wady, Sterling, McClelland, Mbuyamba, McEachran, Lawrence, Peart-Harris, Haigh (Fiabema 87), Webster, Vale, Nunn (Soonsup-Bell 79).
Subs not used: Ziger, Firth, Humphreys.

Goal: Nunn (50)

ROVERS: Eastham, Pike, Barnes, Ayala (Nolan 60), Cirino, Annesley (Saadi 46), Garrett, Whitehall, McBride (Durrant 77), Butterworth, Burns.
Subs not used: Stergiakis, Harlock.

Booked: Butterworth, Cirino, McBride.

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