23's march on in league cup
By Gary Brigden
The 23's progressed to a semi-final showdown with AFC Croydon Athletic, after a 3-3 draw in their second leg against Walton Casuals secured a 7-3 aggregate win.
Taking a 4-0 lead into the game from the first leg, Tyler Chambers took the opportunity to rest some players, give others more minutes than usual, and include some of our U17's in the squad.
Billy Vanstone, Boe Fowler, Felipe Melgaco and Jevontae Hylton were all given the night off, with their places taken by Ryan Steadman-Hoyte, Sam Brown, Sam Blake and debutant left back Eddie Beckett. On the bench were 17 years old Aaron Hunt, Tyler Hargreaves, Jamie Brown and goalkeeper Brandon Farley.
If there was any doubt the lads would progress, it was ended after five minutes when pressure on the Walton defence led to a misplaced pass from the keeper going straight to Sam Blake who calmly opened the scoring.
Walton responded positively and their lively number five drove a low shot goalwards on nine minutes, bringing a good save low to his right out of Darren Osei. Twice in a minute Walton almost forced their way back into the game but having split open our backline, strikes went over the crossbar.
Both sides went close midway through the half, a Dan Stone free kick found Marc Agou, but he could only direct his header wide, and at the other end Josh Parratt lost possession but again Osei was on hand to make a tidy save.
Ben Senior saw an effort blocked on the half hour, and a good challenge by Ryan Steadman-Hoyte stopped another Walton attack as the hosts upped the pressure. Osei then did well to turn a low drive wide of the left hand post, and we went into the half time break with a 1-0 lead.
Walton levelled things up five minutes into the second half when a shot from distance was too powerful for the otherwise excellent Osei and bought the scores back to 1-1.
On 56 minutes Tyler Chambers made his first change, introducing Jamie Brown for a debut, in place of the injured Senior.
We restored our lead on 62 minutes when a foul on Carney lead to a free kick on the edge of the area. Dan Stone's strike bought a good save low to his right out of the Walton keeper, but he was unable to hold the ball and Mason Seagroatt tapped home for 2-1.
And on 64 minutes it was 3-1, when Carney did well on the right and squared to Blake who tapped home his second and Rovers third for 3-1.
Further changes were made with Brandon Farley, Tyler Hargreaves and Aaron Hunt all introduced for debuts, replacing Osei, Stone and Steadman-Hoyte respectively.
To their credit Walton refused to throw in the towel and on 80 minutes, after Farley was adjudged to have picked up a Josh Parratt back pass the free kick was drilled high into the roof of the net.
And scores were level on 83 minutes after tremendous work on the left by the winger saw him glide passed a couple of players before clipping the ball into the net.
Agou made a tremendous block after the Walton forward found himself clear on goal, and the full time whistle went with a 3-3 draw, and a 7-3 aggregate win for us.