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16 January 2024 Venue The Eco-Power Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:00 (UK)

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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 1 Wigan Athletic 1 - Rovers win 4-2 on penalties

16 January 2024

Rovers booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy with a penalty shootout win over Wigan Athletic.

Charlie Wyke had given the side from Sky Bet League One a first half lead but Owen Bailey netted his first goal for Rovers to level after the break and taken the tie to the spot.

Joe Ironside, Ben Close, Bailey and Kyle Hurst were all successful with their spot kicks with Louis Jones batting away Jordan Jones’ effort after Charlie Hughes pulled his penalty off target.

It was everything Rovers’ deserved after an excellent second half performance in which they took the game to the visitors with fluid attacking play.

And they will go to Bradford City in the quarter-finals.

Grant McCann made three changes to the side that started against Newport County three days earlier with Conor Carty handed his first start for the club along with the returning Kyle Hurst and Joseph Olowu.

Rovers made a bright start to the game and pushed forward from the first whistle. Hurst drew an early save from Wigan keeper Ben Amos after intercepting a pass out.

But the visitors took the lead on 11 minutes as Wyke headed home a cross from Sean Clare.

Rovers responded well and Jay McGrath was unlucky to see an effort blocked out for a corner after poking a Luke Molyneux cross on goal.

Wyke was close to doubling Wigan’s tally as he met a Callum McManaman delivery to the near post but failed to find the target.

Molyneux was inches away from drawing Rovers level midway through the half. Hurst powered to the byline and drove the ball across the box with Molyneux meeting it first time only to send his shot over the bar.

Owen Bailey headed over from a Tom Nixon high ball before Wigan’s Jonny Smith stung the palms of Louis Jones with a fierce drive from the corner of the box.

Rovers finished the half strongly. Bailey charged out of midfield and smashed a shot wide from 25 yards while Molyneux repeated the effort moments later.

And on the stroke of half time, Molyneux superbly brought down a clearance from Jones, cut inside and curled just off target from the edge of the box.

Carty could not make enough of a connection on a backheel attempt as he met a low centre from Hurst.

Rovers dominated possession as they searched for an equaliser but struggled to break down the stubborn visitors.

That changed midway through the half as the opportunities began to flow.

McGrath dropped a header just wide of the upright as he met a free kick from Ben Close.

And on 70 minutes the equaliser came. Molyneux raced past two markers and stabbed a cross into the middle where Bailey rose and powered a header beyond Ben Amos.

Rovers were firmly in the ascendancy and looked much the more likely go ahead after the leveller - despite Jonny Smith firing narrowly wide at the end of a dangerous Wigan counterattack.

Carty sent an audacious volley inches over the bar from 30 yards as confidence in the Rovers side grew.

A combination of a McGrath challenge and a Jones block denied Wigan substitute Stephen Humphrys after a surging run forward.

Jones produced a brilliant save with the final act of the game as he tipped wide a low drive from Thelo Aasgaard to send the tie to penalties.

There was a nervy moment for Hurst as his penalty squirmed under Amos before Jones made sure of progression when he pushed away Jones’ spot kick.

Rovers: Jones, Nixon, Olowu, McGrath, Rowe, Broadbent (Ironside 62), Bailey, Close, Molyneux, Carty (Taylor 82), Hurst. Subs not used: Bottomley, Faulkner, Flint, Straughan-Brown, Goodman.

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