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Rovers 0 Crystal Palace 2

17 February 2019

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Rovers Emirates FA Cup journey is over after suffering defeat at home to Premier League Crystal Palace.

Rovers performed excellently against the top-tier opposition, but Palace were more clinical in front of goal and first-half finishes from Jeffrey Schlupp and Max Meyer were enough to win them the match.

Grant McCann made two changes to the Rovers side that defeated Southend United earlier in the week. Mallik Wilks was forced to miss out through suspension which made way for Alfie May whilst Matty Blair was preferred to Aaron Lewis at right-back.

In the opposite dugout, Roy Hodgson opted to make six changes to the Palace side that drew with West Ham in their previous match. Among the changes was a first start for Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi since joining the London club on loan in January 2019. Wayne Hennessey, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew also came into the starting line-up. The notable absentee was Wilfried Zaha who was also suspended.

Whilst Rovers had plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, it took just eight minutes for Crystal Palace to put their stamp on the game. Jeffrey Schlupp made a powerful forward run which started in his own half and finished neatly across Marko Marosi's goal.

Rovers were faced with a difficult task as they sought to come from behind against a side who were yet to concede an Emirates FA Cup goal in 2018/19. The home side pressed well and were arguably playing the better football with through-balls picking out the runs of the front three and causing the Palace defence some trouble, but Rovers were unable to create any chances of note. A goal-bound strike from Herbie Kane on twenty minutes was probably the pick of them, it took some very shrewd defending to head the effort away.

With Rovers pressing hard for the equaliser, they did leave themselves open to the counter attack, Jordan Ayew very nearly took advantage of this but a good save from Marosi kept him at bay.

The half continued to play out in that pattern, Rovers boasted the majority of possession but were confined to speculative efforts and half-chances while Crystal Palace's front three of Ayew, Batshuayi and Andros Townsend carried a constant threat.

With just seconds left on the clock before the break, Palace strung together their best move of the game. A clever chipped ball over the top by Luka Milivojevic was headed neatly back across goal by Townsend for Meyer to nod past Marosi to make it 0-2.

Neither manager made any changes at half-time and within moments of kick-off, Batshuayi had already fired a warning shot just over the bar.

Rovers were quick to hit back with a few warnings of their own. First a thunderbolt strike by Ben Whiteman forced a good save from Hennessey and from the resulting corner, Paul Downing's header looked to be on target before hitting Alfie May.

James Coppinger was soon in on the action too, a great solo run and fantastic footwork earned him a yard of space, his effort would almost certainly have found the top corner if not for a deflection off an Eagles player.

The corners kept coming for Rovers and with them plenty of chances, Kane, Tom Anderson and Marquis all saw efforts go close.

On the hour mark, both managers opted to change things. Hodgson replaced Jordan Ayew with Cheikhou Kouyate who has been recovering from an ankle injury. While McCann made a double change with the introductions of Kieran Sadlier and Tommy Rowe for Ali Crawford and James Coppinger.

Those changes brought about a quieter period in play for both teams and neither Hennessey nor Marosi found themselves tested until a quick ball forward by Palace found Batshuayi onside with only the keeper to beat. Marosi came out well to prevent a third.

There was a sense of time running out for Rovers. Palace were comfortable enough in their two-goal lead and Rovers, who continued to venture forward, simply couldn't find a way past the Eagles defence.

There were a few final rolls of the dice for Rovers, Marquis attempted to sneak one in at the near post while Kane and Kieran Sadlier both fired from range but Hennessey collected all attempts comfortably halting any hope of a Rovers comeback.


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