Rovers U23s fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Mansfield Town U23s in the Central League.
Despite having the best of the first half, Rovers found themselves trailing at the break due to an unfortunate own goal from Branden Horton. Rovers levelled the score just after the half when Jason Lokio’s cross was turned in by Kian Sketchley.
Mansfield grabbed a winner just after the hour when Omari Sterling-James shot from the edge of the box.
Rovers kicked off the match playing into vicious wind and rain and so it was no surprise that Mansfield had the better of the opening exchanges with a few off-target shots.
New signing Lokilo was at the heart of most of Rovers’ best attacking play and he began to dictate things midway through the first half.
He fired an effort from distance which was taken wide by the wind, before Myron Gibbons - released by an excellent through-ball by AJ Greaves – shot straight into the visiting keeper.
Mansfield took the lead on the half-hour mark though an unfortunate own goal. Despite Rovers asserting more dominance on the game, the side were hit on the break from a corner and one long forward ball (aided by the wind) sent Joshua Scott through one-on-one with Kian Johnson.
Horton got back to nick the ball away from the visiting no.9 and was desperately unlucky to see the loose ball trickle over his own goal line.
Rovers finished the half the better. Gibbons had an effort that was blocked for a corner by George Cooper – Alex Baptiste headed over from the delivery. Lokilo’s first-time shot went wide from the edge of the box, and his chipped pass to the back post was volleyed over by Jack Watson.
They continued that form in to the second half with Maison Campbell making good saves from Gibbbons and Lokilo, while Watson’s effort from a tight angle was tipped onto the crossbar.
Rovers pulled level just ten minutes in to the second 45 when Lokilo whipped the ball toward’s the far post – it collided with the woodwork, ricocheted against Sketchley and ended in the back of the net.
Rovers weren’t level for long. Johnson could do very little about Sterling-James’ shot from the edge of the box which came through a crowd of players and nestled in the far corner.
The home side had plenty of chances to get something from the game. Reives Boocock headed just over from a corner and Elliott Walker’s cross was caught by a wicked gust of wind and almost caught Campbell out at his near post.
Rovers best chance came in the final minute of injury time. Walker blazed passed his man, drove along the by-line and cut the ball back to Watson who was waiting unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box, but the youngster got too much on it and sent the ball over the crossbar.