Rovers U18s bow out of the FA Youth Cup in the second round with a defeat to Rotherham United.
Ciaran McGuckin’s goal in extra time condemned Gary McSheffrey’s side to defeat despite taking the lead at the end of the first half through Owen Scattergood.
Rovers created numerous chances and should have been out of sight by the time Curtis Durose equalised with the last kick of the game to take things to extra time.
It was to be heart break for Rovers when Durose turned provider early in the 30 additional minutes crossing to McGuckin who nodded in from close range.
McSheffrey’s side started brightly, Jack Goodman earning an opportunity within two minutes – he took the ball around visiting keeper Alfie Burnett, but the angle was tight and he was only able to find the side netting.
Rovers dominated the majority of possession and created another excellent chance on the 11th minute. Corie Cole reacted well to a miscued clearance from the Rotherham defence - Burnett closed him down quickly and Cole was only able to find the post with the outside of the foot. The ball rolled agonisingly across the face of goal, but Goodman was unable to toe in.
Rovers continued to press. Tavonga Kuleya fired over when Alex Fletcher’s cross picked him out beyond the far post and Goodman’s header from another Fletcher cross was comfortable for keeper Burnett.
At the other end, Rotherham created a few half-chances. Billy Carroll rose highest to head a Durose free kick narrowly over the crossbar, and Dan Wilds' diving header cleared the danger from a Jake Champion cross.
On the half-hour mark, the match began to even out a little as it became more scrappy. The visitors created a few chances in this period. Mason Booth went close with his head, Kuleya got back to deny Champion a shot, and McGuckin shot wide from distance.
Despite the Millers better play, Rovers continued to string together some fantastic passing moves and took a deserved lead in injury time at the end of the first half.
Jack Whiting won the ball back high up the pitch and picked Scattergood out in the box. The striker showed good footwork to earn himself a yard of space and slotted calmly beyond Burnett.
Rotherham started the second half brightly and Bobby Faulkner did well to deny MGuckin. The striker had picked the ball up in the middle of the pitch and drove into the heart of the Rovers defence but the centre-back showed real bravery to make the block. Faulkner was on hand a few more times to snuff out the danger before it developed.
The home side continued to create chances. Jack Raper fired over from a narrow angle, while a very smart touch from Goodman released Kuleya who beat the offside trap with a well-timed run but his shot was brilliantly saved by Burnett.
A succession of corners for Rotherham just after the hour mark could have spelled danger for Rovers but Will Hollings did his job at the near post and headed them all clear.
Goodman’s effort on the spin was well blocked by the Rotherham defence while Whiting was closest to turning in the resulting corner when he attempted to volley on target following an untracked run to the front post. The ball almost dropped to Cole in the melee but the Millers defenders managed to scramble it clear.
The visitors seemed to have learned from their earlier corners and with 15 minutes remaining played a corner short to forge their first real chance of the game. MacKenzie Warne and Durose worked the ball well before the latter sent a deep cross into the box. It was met by a powerful Carroll header but Luke Chadwick was equal to it in the Rovers' goal and made a fantastic stop to deny him from close range.
Rovers were given a glorious opportunity to extend their lead from the spot with less than ten minutes of the 90 remaining. A superb Cole touch and pass released Goodman who was brought down in the area. The young forward’s effort from the penalty spot was smashed on target, but it was kept out by a combination of Burnett and the post.
McSheffrey’s side would rue that missed chance, as Durose finished off a good move by the Millers to equalise with the last kick of the game taking the tie to extra-time.
Rotherham carried that momentum into the start of extra-time, Durose did brilliantly down the right and picked out McGuckin with a perfectly weighted crossed which was headed in from close range.
Rovers had chances to get back on a level footing. Brilliant football sliced through the visitors defensie and worked the ball to Goodman who slipped at an unfortunate moment but still managed to dig a shot out. The blocked effort fell to Cole in space in the middle of the box, but the No.10 blzaed over the bar. Hollings also went close heading on target and forcing a top save from Burnett.
McSheffrey’s side continued to push until the final minute but were unable to get the all important goal against a resolute Rotherham.