Rovers progressed to the Southern Combination Challenge Cup semi-final, courtesy of a penalty shoot out win over Combined Counties South side Camberley Town
Darren and Sam made a raft of changes from the side that had beaten Tooting & Mitcham Utd the previous Saturday, resting some players, giving others some much needed game time and missing a couple of injured players.
Coming into the line up from the start were Dion McFoy-Johnston, Zaid Ouaret Sorr, Hermann Tehe, Markus Marku, Gabriel Odunaike and Shakeel Morris, whilst missing out were the injured Josh Okpolokpo, and Max Oldham plus the unavailable Antonio Simeone, dropping to the bench were Nabeel Ghannam, Conan Torpey and Tyler Cox.
Despite the changes, Rovers made a bright start and in the early exchanges a dangerous Morris cross was headed goalwards by Odunaike and headed over the bar by Camberley’s Brad Passfield.
After that the game settled, and Rovers play lost a lot of it’s early fluidity and gradually Camberley started to gain more and more of a foothold in the contest, without really troubling James Dillon. Courtney Swaby saw a low drive comfortably gathered by Owen Crawford on 17 minutes and Liam Holden volleyed an effort wide on 20 minutes.
Camberley’s first real chance game on 24 minutes, a rare mistake by Danny Divine let Gianluca Zanre Botti through on goal, but the covering Holden was able to get across make a block and force the ball off, via the Camberley man for a goalkick.
The visitors took the lead on 26 minutes, a deep corner from the left saw Cavan Atkinson rise highest to thump home a header. We responded positively with both Marku and Divine seeing shots go off target.
On the half hour, having broken quickly from a Rovers attack, Zanre Botti forced a really good save out of Dillon low to his left. A minute later and McFoy-Johnston gifts possession back to Zanre Botti and again he is thwarted by Dillon.
Dillon was proving the Rovers hero and ten minutes before the break a whipped in cross by Jacob Wheeler was deflected goalwards, and somehow the Rovers keeper was down to make the save.
Rovers thought they had a shout for a penalty five minutes before the break, when Odunaike looked to bundled over in the area, but play continued. Dillon saved well from Charlie Oakley and after a mazy run, Tehe was forced wide and his effort was comfortable for Crawford and Camberley took a lead into the half time interval.
Changes were made at half time with Tyler Cox and Siao Blackwood replacing McFoy-Johnston and Tehe, and these were to have an impact within five minutes. Morris picked up the ball on the right after good work by Zaid Ouaret Sorr, Swaby and Odunaike, and his low cross found Cox, who cut inside Luke Benton and fired into the bottom corner for 1-1.
Rovers were now on top, and a Cox header found Odunaike who outmuscled Brad Passfield but saw his lob just drift wide of the right hand post and a minute later Rovers somehow failed to score from a goalmouth scramble. Cox’s cross should have been headed home but as the ball dropped, Marku and Odunaike were both unable to get decent connections and Crawford saved.
Camberley retook the lead midway through the half when a low cross from the left was turned goalwards, Dillon half saved the effort but Jack Selby was on hand to force home the loose ball to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Rovers response was immediate, and again the skipper was involved, cutting inside from the left Cox drilled a shot goalwards which took a deflection off Steve Lee to bring the scores level.
Odunaike should have given Rovers the lead with 15 minutes remaining, a superb Divine cross found the forward but from six yards he was somehow denied by a superb Crawford save. Swaby was then denied low to his right by the impressive young Camberley keeper.
Ghannam fired an effort over the bar with five minutes remaining, before Camberley were given a gilt edged chance to win the match. A drive into the area was handled by a Rovers player, giving the visitors a penalty. Zanre Botti’s effort was well struck, but Dillon pulled off a remarkable save away to his left, and that was the end of the chances and the sides finished locked at 2-2.
And so to a shoot out.
SCR 1-0 – Torpey smashes the ball beyond Crawford – no stopping that
CT 1-1 – Zanre Botti atones for his miss in normal time firing low to Dillon’s left
SCR 1-1 – Swaby see’s his poor spot kick comfortably saved low to his right by Crawford
CT 1-1 – Calvin Camara with the worst penalty seen for a long time, effectively a 12 yard back pass to Dillon
SCR 2-1 – either a great or slightly fortunate penalty, lets go great, as Blackwoods effort goes in off the post
CT 2-2 – Mason Taylor fires low to Dillons right
SCR 3-2 – never in doubt as Nabeel Ghannam converts
CT 3-2 – Brad Passfield hits the roof of the Whyteleafe stand to leave Rovers on the brink
SCR 4-2 – fittingly, it’s the two goal hero, skipper Tyler Cox who sends Crawford the wrong way to put Rovers through