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Match Report: Development Squad 0-1 Exeter City U23

30 August 2018

Despite a spirited performance, the Development fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of Exeter City in the qualifying round of the Premier League Cup.

Development Squad Manager Chris Hargreaves named a strong starting eleven for the encounter at the Memorial Stadium - with Alfie Kilgour captaining the Development Squad for the tie that would see the victor progress to the group stage of the competition. 

There was an early scare for Rovers in the opening minutes, as a break down the right led to space being created for Josh Key to dribble into a threatening location, breaking into the Rovers area. The winger managed to manufacture a sight at goal, but from ten-yards, dragged his attempt narrowly wide of the target.

Chris Hargreaves' side did show good enterprise themselves, with neat passing play on display as they continually looked to use the expansive surface to coordinate breaks. 

The best chance of the first-half for Rovers fell to Mo Baghdadi, as the winger used his dynamic pace to cut inside from a wide position. Opening up a sight towards goal, Baghdadi connected well with a left-footed attempt but shot rose sharply off target.

Exeter did manage to open the scoring as the half-hour mark passed. With a neat show of pace, Archie Collins managed to exploit a gap in the heart of the Rovers defence, holding the ball up to draw in a number of defenders, before clipping a ball to the feet of Ben Seymour. With just Alexis to beat, the striker was able to wait for the ball to drop before hitting a powerful volley past the Rovers 'keeper to edge Exeter ahead.

With half-time approaching, Rovers did carve out a chance to restore balance to the scoreline. The move hinged on a sparkling run from Cameron Hargreaves, with the midfielder riding a number of challenges to break to the byline. With Cameron Ebbutt forging a run to the near post, Hargreaves looked to stroke a pass to the feet of the striker, but the ball was deflected clear. 

After the break - it took a vital clearance from Connor Jones to prevent Exeter from extending their lead. The midfielder was in the correct place at the right time to edge the ball away from danger following a save from Alexis Andre-Jr that the 'keeper hadn't quite claimed.

Rovers did manage chances of their own, as Theo Widdrington edged a long-range attempt just wide of goal from thirty-yards. 

Perhaps the best chance of the game for Rovers arrived on the hour mark. The opportunity started with a deep free-kick being pumped into the Exeter area by Baghdadi. The delivery was flighted at a high angle and was met by the towering figure of Alfie Kilgour, with the defender powering a header narrowly wide of goal.

Kilgour's opportunity sparked a series of chances for the home side - as Kilgour again had a headed chance bounce wide before Cameron Hargreaves slide a side-footed shot off-target.

In the closing stages, Rovers continued to force openings against the resilient Exeter defence, but couldn't seek out any late clear-cut chances on goal, as the visitor's secured their pathway to progress in the competition. 

Rovers: Alexis Andre-Jr, Alfie Clarke, Ben Morgan, Alfie Kilgour, Josh Bailey, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist, Cameron Hargreaves, Theo Widdrington, Connor Jones, Mo Baghdadi, Cameron Ebbutt

Subs: Liam Armstrong, Deon Moore, Cameron Allen, James Spruce, Scott Isherwood.


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