A youthful Rovers side fell to a 3-1 defeat at the King's George Arena in their latest pre-season outing. Josh Uzen bagged a hat-trick for the hosts, dispatching two penalties and a set-piece, in a fixture that provided a good learning curve for the Rovers youngsters.
Heading into the game, U21 Manager Chris Hargreaves included a number of players that had featured for the first-team during pre-season, with Rollin Menayese trusted with the captain's armband for the encounter.
Included in the starting eleven was midfielder Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis, who had joined the U21 ranks earlier in the day, with the new addition joined in midfielder by Cameron Hargreaves and Conor Jones.
In the opening exchanges, the game quickly settled into a lively and quick-flowing affair, with both sides set up to make the most of any attacking situations.
Rovers first chance originated from a corner from the right, which was delivered into the box by Cameron Hargreaves, with the ball eventually falling to Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis, but off-balance, the midfielder couldn't connect with his first-time shot and his rushed effort glanced wide.
The first goal of the game came in the tenth minute, as Rollin Menayese's slip in possession led to Rovers conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position twenty-yards from goal. A number of players stood over the resulting set-piece, but it was Josh Uzun who produced a well-struck right-footed shot that diverted straight into the top corner, well out of the reach of the diving Thom Jonkerman.
Rovers' best opportunity to respond in the minutes that followed the goal came from a set-piece, as Ten-Grotenhuis timed a late run into the box to meet an inswinging corner to the near post, but from close-range, the midfielder couldn't keep his effort from rising over the bar.
The game lacked chances as the first half progressed, but the hosts manufactured an opportunity on goal when an inswinging corner was played into the congested six-yard area, with the ball eventually deflected towards goal, with Thom Jonkerman alert to make a diving save to prevent the ball going over the goal line.
The home side doubled their lead with just seven minutes remaining in the first-half, when Rollin Menayese was penalised for a challenge inside the area, with referee Charles Breakspear having little hesitation in point straight to the spot. Josh Uzen was tasked with taking the penalty and blasted a powerfully struck shot that veered into the bottom corner, with Jonkerman routed to the spot.
As the final few moments of the first-half played out, a deep free-kick from Cameron Hargreaves was met inside the penalty area by the leaping Menayese, but after connecting with a powerful header, Menayese's effort was held by the Corinthian Casuals 'keeper, as the hosts maintained their two goal lead heading into the break.
After the half-time interval, Rovers introduced Lewis Ellington into the strike force and were quick to create opportunities on goal, as Conor Jones floated a threatening delivery to the far-post which found Ben Morgan, who managed to direct a header on target that was ushered clear and behind for a corner.
It was a Conor Jones set-piece that created Rovers a golden opportunity on goal on the stroke of the hour mark, as the youngster produced a driven set-piece that bounced across the face of goal and was narrowly missed by the onrushing Lewis Ellington before Jones' free-kick itself flashed narrowly past the left-hand post.
The game was ended as a contest when the Casuals scored their third goal, as Ben Morgan was punished by the referee for a challenge inside the Rovers penalty box. Josh Uzen again stepped up and choose the same spot for his second penalty that was successful for him first-time around, as Jonkerman dived the right way but was unable to keep out the powerful stuck penalty.
Late on in the encounter Rovers managed to pull a goal back as trialist Kevin Dunwald was able to muscle his way into the area and complete the move with a finish that proved to be too powerful for the Corinthians 'keeper to handle.
Rovers: Thom Jonkerman, Luke Russe, Ben Morgan, Rollin Menayese (C), Michael Kelly, Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis (45' Leigh-Gilchrist), Cameron Hargreaves, Conor Jones, Cameron Ebbutt (62' James Spruce), Bradley Hird (45' Lewis Ellington), Brandon Scott (45' Kevin Dunwald).
Subs: Harry Warwick, Ghassan Hassan, Toby Rennie, Sam Blake.
Referee: Charles Breakspear