(Brennan, 57)


(Bramble, pen 28) (Fernandez, 49)

Rovers Under-18s were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the third round stage following a 2-1 defeat to Gillingham at Ewood.

It was a disappointing night for Billy Barr’s side, but they only had themselves to blame after a poor first half and a host of missed chances in the second.

A contentious TJ Bramble penalty and Emmanuel Fernandez header had the visitors in control, and although Rovers were handed a lifeline as Luke Brennan scored directly from a corner, couldn’t find an equaliser.

Rovers, who saw Flavian Enzo Boyomo and George Wilson booked early on, were struggling for any form of fluidity as passes continually went astray.

It was from an innocuous ball over the top in which they threatened though, with Sam Burns running on to it, but with ‘keeper Joe Walsh retreating, he got his attempted chip all wrong.

Roman Campbell curled a free kick wide for visitors before they were awarded a hugely contentious penalty as Bramble took a tumble when challenging for the high ball. The referee adjudged there was a push, with the midfielder picking himself up to stroke home the penalty.

At the break, Rovers turned to Jack Vale from the bench, the hat-trick hero in last year’s last 16 win over Nottingham Forest.

That also brought with it a change of formation, from a back three to a back four, but that couldn’t stop Rovers from falling further behind after the re-start.

A corner wasn’t dealt with, and although Sam Barnes had initially done well to clear off the line, the ball was kept alive, with Fernandez rising highest to turn the ball in from close range.

The response was swift from Rovers, who after seeing Wilson’s free kick well kept out by Walsh, reduced the arrears as an inswinging Brennan corner found the far corner.

And he should have brought them level on the hour mark, only to turn over from six yards after being teed up by Vale after he rounded the goalkeeper.

Brennan was in the thick of it again, missing another excellent chance when failing to find the target from 10 yards after steadying himself after collecting Daniel Pike’s cross.

Vale drew a save from Walsh at his near post shortly before Sam Durrant fired just wide in the dying seconds.

Rovers: Winterbottom, Boyomo, Garrett, Connolly (Vale, 46), Barnes, Pike, Whitehall, Wilson, Burns (Durrant, 70), Piliukaitis (Baker, 82), Brennan

Subs: Zimba, Eastham