ROVERS Under-23s were twice force to come from behind as they were held 2-2 by West Bromwich Albion at Leyland.

The Rovers youngsters missed the chance to go top of the Premier League 2 Division Two table despite Lewis Hardcastle’s late leveller from the spot, while he was instrumental in the own goal which drew his side level early in the second half. 

Rovers had the better of proceedings throughout, with West Brom keeper Alex Palmer making two excellent saves from Dan Butterworth and one from Callum Wright to frustrate the hosts who hit the post late on through Willem Tomlinson.

Sam Hart was given a run-out having failed to make the last two first-team matchday squads while Scott Wharton captained Damien Johnson’s side.

The opening 15 minutes brought plenty of possession for the hosts but no clear cut chances, though the game was played exclusively in the visitors’ half.

But Rovers’ probing should have seen them ahead soon after as Hardcastle freed Lewis Travis down the right and his near-post cross found an unmarked Lewis Mansell who volleyed wide from inside the six yard box.

Butterworth had the game’s first shot on target, working a shooting angle on the edge of the box in the 20th minute, with Alex Palmer well placed to deal with his effort.

Tomlinson started brightly in the middle of the park and after having a sighter with a 25-yarder which he blazed over, he went mightily close on the half hour mark, only for his curling effort to go just wide of the far post.

The visitors had been forced in to plenty of defending but would break to score the opening goal with their first attempt at eight seven minutes before the interval. Tahvon Campbell skipped away from a couple of tackles and when the ball fell to substitute Nick Clayton-Phillips he fired the ball in to the bottom corner.

Tomlinson fired two more shots goalwards before the break, neither testing the keeper, as Rovers went in behind.

The second half wasn’t a minute old when Rovers missed a great chance to equalise.  Good movement through the middle of the pitch saw Butterworth slip in Wright, but clean through, he was denied by the legs of West Brom keeper.

But they weren’t to be denued for long as neat work down the right by Hardcastle saw his cross turned in to his own net by Baggies defender Kyle Howkins.

West Brom’s sights of goal were few and far between, but they should have retaken the lead on the hour mark when Rovers failed to deal with a free-kick which fell to Campbell, but on the turn he couldn’t apply the finish from six yards out.

Though Zach Brown did restore their advantage moments later, side-footing in to the corner with his left foot from the edge of the box as Rovers failed to clear their lines sufficiently.

Rovers were struggling to find any real fluency and offered little after falling behind for a second time. When they did break the defensive lines of the visitors, Palmer continued to deny them, keeping out Butterworth with a fine stop with his legs after he burst on to a loose ball in the area.

Ten minutes from the end though, Rovers did level things up and it came from the penalty spot. Hardcastle took the responsibility to fire home from 12 yards after Tomlinson saw his header blocked by a hand.

Rovers went in search of a late winner which almost came when an effort from Wright which beat everyone, including the far post.  But they had an even better one moments before the full-time whistle with Palmer once again frustrating Butterworth.

The final kick saw Hart play a short free-kick to Tomlinson whose curling effort rattled the post as Rovers were left frustrated.

Rovers: Fisher, C Doyle (Thomson, 72), Platt, Wharton, Travis, Tomlinson, Hardcastle, Hart, Butterworth, Wright, Mansell

Subs: Dillon, Grayson, Paton, Vale