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Steve Lovell16 Apr - 14:10
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Steve Lovell

Rovers book Wembley date in dramatic fashion after they overturned a one goal deficit and defeated Worcester City on penalties.

In what is proving to be arguably the club's biggest game of their 105 year history, Rovers knew a win by one would even the tie or by two would seal their spot at Wembley and the club's first ever Wembley appearance. Elliott Hartley's second half strike in last Saturday's win at Sixways is what separated the sides.

Before kickoff in a packed out Burroughs Park of just over 1500 spectators, the teams and the crowd held a minutes applause in honour of former player, coach and manager Ryan Wilkinson.

The first ten minutes of the match was a cagey affair, Worcester City had most of the chances and it was thanks to Rovers keeper Luis Shamshoum for keeping them in the tie with his heroics. Worcester City’s Belmonte was allowed to drive at the Rovers defence and unleashed a strike from thirty yards. It was destined for the top corner but Shamshoum made an outstanding one armed save to tip the ball over. The Rovers keeper was called upon again two minutes later when Worcester City’s Reid managed to get behind the defence and struck the ball low but Shamshoum made a smart save and the ball was cleared.

After the first ten minutes, it seemed Worcester City had all the momentum but it was the Rovers winger Jake Gordon who volleyed home to level the tie. Callum Boylan was allowed to drive through the middle of the pitch towards the Worcester City goal, he got his shot off which was well blocked by Mace but the ball dropped down for Gordon who volleyed the ball over the Worcester City keeper into the back of the net just inside the 18 yard box.

Rovers continued to knock on the door, Jake Gordon thought he’d levelled the tie again after long throw from Caiden Imbert-Thomas wasn’t cleared and Jake unleashed a stinging dipping volley on the edge of the box which the Worcester keeper superbly tipped over.

However, as Worcester City kept continuing to threaten, it was the imposing figure of Dylan Hart who would give Worcester the lead again ten minutes from halftime from a defensive mix up that resulted in an unmarked header from a couple of yards out after a cross was deflected into his path.

The game was full pelt, end to end stuff and neither side was settling on the ball.


Rovers had the ball in the back of the net in the first four minutes of the second half when Gordon thought he had levelled the tie again, only to have his deflected effort overruled by the linesman for offside.

The tie was end to end stuff, both teams missing chances and tackles flying in, it wasn’t until the 72nd minute when Rovers had another chance chalked off when a ball was played through via Search who found Boylan who nicked the ball from the Worcester keeper and tapped home but the referee called back for a foul. However, Rovers super sub Max Gnandi was on hand to level the tie for a second time with six minutes to play.

Harry Talbot was kept at bay for large parts of the game and crafted out an opening, skipping past two defenders on the left before sweeping a ball across the box for Gnandi to take a touch after Martin miscontrolled the ball and drilled the ball into the bottom right corner.

The final five minutes saw the game slowed down due to cramps and substitutions and the referee blew the whistle for full time which meant the tie had to be decided on penalties.

Rovers won the toss up which meant the penalties were taken at the home end. The first six penalties were tucked away from both the Rovers and the Worcester City players. The Rovers takers Callum Boylan, Harry Talbot, Billy Johnson and Jake Gordon scored as well as Worcester City’s first four takers did, giving Luis Shamshoum no chance. However, it was only for Martin to hit the cross bar but Worcester City’s Kyle Belmonte then dragged his spot-kick wide with both teams staying level.

Rovers Jack Nolde put his away into the bottom left corner and Luis Shamshoum followed that up with heroics of his own, reading Worcester City’s skipper Chris Knight’s spot kick by diving low to his right and send Burrough’s Park into jubilations and booked the Rovers place in the FA Vase final for the first time in the 105 year history where they will play Romford at Wembley on the 11th May.

FULLTIME: ROVERS 2-1 WORCESTER (aggregate 2-2)

Rovers win 5-4 on penalties

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