The young Rovers U21 team, playing under the ‘Reserves’ title, travelled to Long Melford for this Suffolk County Reserves Cup fixture and were greeted by a decent playing surface that should suit their passing style of football.
The game was fairly scrappy in the opening stages as a string of fouls and free-kicks did not allow the game to flow but it was Rovers who looked the more comfortable in possession and they should have taken the lead when Rhys Shulver played a good ball to Jeff Abila in the box who shot straight at the home keeper. The home team then took the lead against the run of play when, after the ball appeared to go out on the left, a cross followed that caused confusion in the Rovers defence as a half hit clearance was fired home.
To Rovers’ credit the young team soon settled after this as Shulver looked composed in midfield and Burr and Bailey looked dangerous in wide areas as they caused the home defence problems with their forward runs. A pin point Shulver free-kick delivery was then headed just over from Jebb whilst Abila tested the keeper on two occasions, before hitting the woodwork.
The Rovers’ pressure was soon to pay off when Mitchell Burr delivered a good left wing cross that was fired home by Will Bailey for a deserved equaliser. Rovers continued to have the upper hand as Shulver then picked out Abila in the box and this time the striker did better as he fired past the outstretched keeper to give Rovers the half time lead.
The second half started similar to the first as it was a scrappy affair as Melford tried to play long balls whilst Rovers passing out from the back was not of its usual standard as they gave away possession for large parts.
Eventually things settled and again Rovers soon got their passing game sorted and nearly scored when a Jebb header from a Shulver free-kick bought the best out of the home keeper but with the Rovers now in full control it was not long before Ollie Stevenson found Burr who got the better of the home defence and rounded the keeper to then slot the ball home to give his side some breathing space.
The pattern of play remained the same as Rovers retained the ball better than their older opponents and the game was sealed when sub James Austin turned his marker inside the box and fired home a right foot shot to give his team a comfortable victory and passage to the next round.