Rovers exited the Leasing.com Trophy with a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City U21s at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Goals in either half for Admiral Muskwe and a late goal for George Hirst sealed the young Foxes’ place in the third round. The home side created plenty of chances - Tom Anderson had one cleared off the line, while Madger Gomes and Joe Wright went close.
Darren Moore handed out starts to several U23s players with Shane Blaney, AJ Greaves and Danny Amos included in the starting XI, while Tom Anderson was granted a runout as he serves a three-match ban from league action.
The game started in a scrappy manner – Rovers created a half-chance when Amos’ shot was blocked, sending it looping up and out of danger. At the other end, Callum Wright showcased exceptionally quick feet to take the ball around Anderson and Blaney, but a heavy final touch took the ball safely out of play.
Leicester showed some impressive attacking prowess with one-touch passes allowing them to move the ball quickly around the box. It required an excellent tackle by Amos to nick the ball away from Hirst as he was about to pull the trigger from close range.
Muskwe put the visitors ahead just before 15 minutes, he got between the centre backs and opened his body up to guide Calvin Ughelumba’s cross beyond Ian Lawlor.
After the goal, Rovers seemed to find some impetus but without fully testing Foxes keeper Tobias Viktor Johansson. Amos’ corner-kick was well-met by Kwame Thomas, but he found his effort was blocked en route.
A shot by Luke Thomas was blocked, sending it looping over Lawlor’s goal while Ben Whiteman’s effort at the other end dipped viciously almost catching Johansson out at his left post. The Foxes keeper collected on the second attempt.
Rovers were inches from equalising when Taylor’s corner-kick found the head of Kwame Thomas with the striker able nod the ball back into the danger area. Several players had shots blocked in the melee with Anderson the closest to toeing the ball over only to see it cleared off the line.
Rovers made two changes at half time. Rakish Bingham and Joe Wright coming onto the pitch in place of Blaney and Brad Halliday. This sparked a change of formation as Rovers reverted to a back four with Daniels moving into the vacant right-back position.
The visitors also made a change swapping their keepers - Johansson made way for Rhys Davies.
Wright was called into action early as he stepped across to block Luke Thomas’ shot at the near post.
Rovers’ had a good period of pressure in the second half. Whiteman tried his luck from outside the box – the ball wouldn’t quite sit for him and he ended up cueing it wide.
Crosses went in but the strikers weren’t able to test the new keeper in the Leicester goal. Rovers thought they’d been handed a lifeline when Kwame Thomas was bundled to the floor by the Leicester centre-back, but referee Ollie Yates dismissed Rovers’ players appeal for a penalty.
Leicester doubled their lead just after the hour mark – Muskwe headed in from close range after several blocks from the Rovers defence.
Rovers nearly hit back immediately when Madger Gomes – who replaced AJ Greaves - drove a low shot through a crowd of bodies – the ball took a few deflections en route. Davies made the save with his legs, but he didn’t seem to know much about it.
The keeper did know all about the next stop when he managed to hold Wright’s bullet header from close range after a smart chipped ball from Amos found the centre back at the back post. Alfie May’s effort on the spin was saved.
Luke Thomas went for a third for Leicester late-on, but he was off balance and the shot was off target. Hirst did manage to make it three for the Foxes moments later when he headed in from a corner.