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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 0 Crewe Alexandra 2 AET - Crewe win 4-3 on penalties

10 May 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 0 Crewe Alexandra 2 AET - Crewe win 4-3 on penalties

10 May 2024

Rovers’ play-off campaign ended in agonising defeat via a penalty shootout against Crewe Alexandra.

The visitors scored twice in the opening 15 minutes to wipe out Rovers’ first leg advantage and leave the tie on a knife edge.

Rovers pushed hard to go back ahead in the semi-final but could not break the deadlock through extra time.

And with Hakeeb Adelakun and Zain Westbrooke denied from the spot, Crewe triumphed 4-3 in the shootout to progress to the final.

It was a bitter blow with which to end a rollercoaster campaign for Rovers, particularly given the incredible final few months.

Grant McCann made one change to the side that started the first leg four days earlier with Tommy Rowe into the XI in place of the injured Harrison Biggins. George Miller made his first appearance in a matchday squad since August with a place on the bench.

Crewe, chasing the tie, emerged with real aggression on the front foot. A Joel Tabiner effort deflected over the bar in the early stages.

The visitors took the lead on the night after just five minutes when Demetriou found a run in the box and powered a header home from a corner.

Crewe continued to push forward. Chris Long flashed a shot narrowly wide from 20 yards before forcing a fine save from Thimothée Lo-Tutala at his near post.

By 15 minutes, Crewe had levelled the semi-final. Long powered into space on the right and sent a low ball across the box which was bundled in by Thomas from close range.

Rovers settled through the midpoint of the half and began to look after the ball to a much greater extent.

Joe Ironside saw a shot blocked by Demetriou after being fed into the box by Adelakun at the end of a fine attacking move.

McCann’s side finished the half the stronger. Rowe sent a header on goal from a Jamie Sterry cross but was denied by Max Stryjek.

And in stoppage time Adelakun smashed a shot narrowly wide of the top corner after a surging run inside.

Crewe again started the second half the stronger but Rovers rode out the early pressure and got on the front foot.

Richard Wood flicked a header narrowly off target from a superb Adelakun cross just after the hour mark.

Chances proved difficult to come by with Crewe defending resolutely against Rovers possession.

Adelakun sent a dangerous ball across the box, sparking a goalmouth scramble with Rovers somehow unable to turn home despite numerous attempts from close range.

Molyneux surged in off the right in stoppage time but hooked his shot wide of the near post from the edge of the box.

The game moved into extra time and opportunities remained at a premium, though Rovers continued to pose the greater attacking threat.

Molyneux lashed a shot off the post via a deflection in the first period before McCann pushed for the win in the second as he sent on Miller with a switch to a back three.

Matus Holicek sliced wide for Crewe deep into the second period while Owen Bailey saw a shot turned behind.

Lo-Tutala saved from Demetriou before Westbrooke struck the post with his penalty. With all other takers successful, Adelakun stepped up last for Rovers and was denied by Stryjek, giving the win to Alex.

Rovers: Lo-Tutala, Sterry (Miller 112), Anderson, Wood, Maxwell (Olowu 112), Craig (Westbrooke 101), Molyneux, Bailey, Rowe (Hurst 60), Adelakun, Ironside. Subs not used: Jones, Broadbent, Waters.

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