Victory in the Papa Johns Trophy for the Gas!
Rovers marched into the quarter-final of the Papa Johns Trophy after sweeping aside MK Dons 4-1 on a chilly Tuesday evening at the Mem. A first-half header from Luca Hoole set the Gas on their before a brace in the second half from John Marquis and a late goal from substitute Harvey Saunders ensured the Gas would be in the draw for the next round.
Joey Barton made five changes from the victory against Port Vale bringing in Anssi Jaakkola, John Marquis, Luke McCormick, James Gibbons and Luca Hoole for James Belshaw, Josh Coburn, Paul Coutts, Scott Sinclair and Lewis Gibson respectively.
The first chance of the game fell to the Gas when a long ball was played over the top looking for Aaron Collins. The Rovers’ forward got to it first ahead of goalkeeper Jamie Cummins but he couldn’t divert an effort on target.
Up the other end, James Gibbons did well to get back and make a key defensive block
The Gas then had an excellent chance with seven minutes on the clock. Jordan Rossiter played a great reverse ball to find Lewis Gordon in space on the edge of the six-yard box. Gordon unselfishly squared the ball across goal but Collins skewed his shot wide from close range.
The first shot for the away side came with just under twenty minutes played when Dawson Devoy found space on the edge of the area but his shot cleared Jaakkola’s crossbar.
Rovers had the ball in the back of the net shortly after when Luke McCormick drove into the box and his shot was turned in by Evans but the Rovers’ man was denied by the linesman’s flag. Josh Coburn fresh onto the pitch after replacing the injured Collins, dribbled through a couple of MK Dons’ challenges before then being tackled at the last minute, as the ball went out for a goal kick.
On the half-hour mark, Gibbons whipped in a delicious ball that Jack Turner managed to scramble behind for a corner.
From the corner Rossiter picked up the ball and then the Rovers captain dribbled to the byline and delivered a teasing cross into the box that Hoole crashed into the top corner to give Rovers the lead.
As the clock ticked into five minutes of injury time at the end of the first time Gordon did well to get back and make a challenge on Matt Smith to put the ball out for a corner. Brad Johnson was then booked for the away side for a late challenge on McCormick although from the resulting free-kick Rovers couldn’t take advantage as they took a one-goal lead into the break.
After the restart MK Dons had an early chance to equalise when Johnson found himself with space on the edge of the box. From 25 yards he unleashed a shot that forced Jaakkola into action for the first time on the evening as the Finn got down low to push the ball away.
The Gas doubled their lead when Gibbons slipped in Evans who delivered a low cross into the corridor of uncertainty. Coburn initially couldn’t get a touch but Marquis was on hand to lash the ball in at the back post.
With just over twenty minutes to play Coburn sent his strike partner Marquis through and the latter made no mistake, smashing the ball past Cumming, to get his second and Rovers’ third of the night.
The Gas then made a triple change as Harvey Saunders, Alfie Kilgour and Scott Sinclair came on for Thomas, Gordon and Coburn.
It didn’t take long for the substitutes to make their mark as McCormick delivered a deep cross into the box from the left wing where Saunders, just onto the pitch, volleyed the ball home for a fourth Rovers goal for his second Papa Johns trophy goal in two games.
There was late drama as Rovers were reduced to ten men when Kilgour was sent off for a last-man tackle on Mo Eisa. Eisa then picked himself up to give the away side a consolation goal from the spot.
Late in added time, Jaakkola made a smart save from Devoy’s log range shot as the Gas sealed their passage through to the next round of the cup.
Next up for the Gas is the visit to Charlton Athletic at the Valley in Sky Bet League One on Saturday 17th December (3pm).
Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola, James Connolly, Lewis Gordon, John Marquis, Aaron Collins, Jordan Rossiter (c), Anthony Evans, Luke McCormick, James Gibbons, Luca Hoole, Bobby Thomas.
Subs: James Belshaw, Alfie Kilgour, Scott Sinclair, Zain Westbrooke, Paul Coutts, Harvey Saunders, Josh Coburn.
MK Dons: Jamie Cumming, Jack Tucker, Matt Smith, Ethan Robson, Will Grigg, Daniel Oyegoke, Brad Johnson (c), Louis Barry, Henry Lawrence, Dawson Devoy, Zac Jules.
Subs: Franco Ravizzoli, Mo Eisa, Conor Grant, Dan Kemp, Daniel Harvie, Brooklyn Ilunga, Matt Dennis.
Referee: Declan Bourne.
Attendance: 864 (60 away)