Rob Jones' Development side narrowly miss out on consecutive cup victories as Alban Bunjaku scores a 90th minute equaliser for Derby.A superb bit of play from Jack McKay and some solid defending throughout the game nearly saw the South Yorkshire side come away with the victory, but for a 90th minute equaliser from Derby's Alban Bunjaku as he stole the win from right under Rovers' nose.
The Rams started off the better of the two sides with an early chance falling to George Thorne; the centre midfielder picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a half volley which fortunately whistled passed Jack McLaren's left post.
Rovers worked hard to break Derby down and they were nearly rewarded for their efforts. A long ball over the top by Rob Jones was miss judged by the Rams defence and running in from the right hand side Matthew Davies latched onto the ball but his header was well wide.
McLaren produced a fantastic 1-on-1 save on the 20th minute. A left footed whipped cross from Lee Naylor set up Shaquille McDonald who had the whole of the net to place the ball into, but McLaren made himself big and denied the striker the chance to put the Rams in front.
McDonald again was making a nuisance of himself, he set off from his own half and after taking on two defenders he got his shot away but it was well wide.
Against the run of play Rob Jones' side took the lead. A chipped ball over the top from Liam Mandeville was met by Jack McKay, his headed effort hit the foot of the post before going in and putting the visitors ahead.
Rovers had a brilliant chance on the stroke of half time to add to their lead, McKay found some space in the Derby box, a delightful through ball from Alex Head set McKay free. He shaped up to shoot but a fantastic slide challenge from Shaun Baker denied the 18-yeard old his second of the game.
Half Time: Derby County U21's 0-1 Doncaster Rovers U21's
The second half started off very slowly and there were not many chances until the 60th minute, Derby got a free kick on the edge of Doncaster's box. Substitute Jamie Hanson who came on for Shaun Baker whipped a right-footed shot just past the left post.
Referee Mark Jones turned down appeals from the Rovers side as Davies was blatantly taken down inside the penalty area by Hanson but the man in black was having none of it.
McLaren continued to impress in the Doncaster goal, he produced another fantastic save from Bunjaku. The forward broke free of the defence and let fly from 20-yards out but the goalkeeper made a smart save at his near post.
Less than a minute later the crossbar was called into action, substitute Offrande Zanzala pounced on a loose ball after a great challenge by Paul McKay seconds earlier. The tricky winger blasted his right footed shot against the crossbar, a sign of things to come for Doncaster.
Zanzala's pace was too much to handle for the Rovers defence, the winger sprinted through on goal and it looked like he was going to pull the Rams level but again McLaren was equal to the effort and pushed the ball wide and away from any danger.
A corner from Lee Naylor was flashed across goal, but thankfully for Rob Jones' men no-one was there to apply the finish.
Another corner from Naylor this time fell to the head of Bunjaku, he jumped well above the Doncaster defence to power the ball past the well beaten McLaren and pull the Rams level so late in the game.
Full Time: Derby County U21's 1-1 Doncaster Rovers U21's
Derby County U21's Starting XI :- Mitchell, Hendrie, Naylor, Thorne(Wassall- 86'), Baker(Hanson- 45'), Sharpe, Santos, Koblenz(Zanzala- 64'), McDonald, Bunjaku.
Unused Subs: Behrens
Doncaster Rovers U21's Starting XI :- McLaren, Greasley, Carberry, Linley, Jones(Mbuti- 20'), McKay P, Gordon(Wanless- 75'), Head, McKay J(Parkin- 63'), Mandeville, Davies.
Unused Subs: Iveson