A ‘horrific’ tackle turned the game on its head as Rovers Under-23s climbed to third in the Premier League 2 table with victory at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Sam Durrant scored a 96th minute for Billy Barr’s side who left it late to see off the brave challenge of the 10-man Seagulls, with Connor McBride coming off the bench to equalise from the spot with 12 minutes remaining.

That was a seventh of the season for the summer signing from Celtic, but it was first year pro Durrant who stole the show with a neat finish in the sixth minute of added on time to secure the points for Rovers.

The game hinged on a dramatic final few minutes of the first half, with Brighton defender Ed Turns sent off for a two-footed lunge on Rovers right back Dan Pike.

That came just seconds after Jenson Weir had put the hosts ahead in the 45th minute.

Rovers had to be patient in the second half, before their late show gave them a fifth win in seven games, with Barr pleased to see Pike come away unscathed from the challenge by Turns.

He said: “The sending off changes the game completely and it was a horrific tackle, a really horrific tackle.

“The lad had won the ball and then for some reason follows though and he’s caught Dan across both thighs.

“The referee dealt with it and then some pushing began, but you can’t have tackles like that in the modern game.

“Thankfully for Dan he’s come out of it okay, but I’m sure their lad will be disappointed with the tackle.”

Hosts boss Simon Rusk branded the challenge ‘indefensible’ and had no complaints with the decision.

Harry Chapman was given a run-out for Barr’s side, the boss making several changes to the side that was beaten 6-0 by Arsenal last time out.

Jordan Eastham got the nod over Antonis Stergiakis in goal, as the pair continue to share the game-time, while there were first starts at Premier League 2 level for highly-rated prospect Jake Garrett and winger Durrant.

Garrett started in the centre of a back three, before moving into the midfield, where second year scholar Jared Harlock, making just his second start at this level, partnered Jalil Saadi.

Isaac Whitehall was called for from the bench at half-time, with McBride replacing Chapman at the midway point of the second half.

And Barr said: “I didn’t think we were good enough in the first half.

“We huffed and puffed and played out way out over the halfway line and continually kept giving the ball back to them in certain areas.

“The game plan was to spend longer on the ball and it was very frustrating.

“When we did get in the box, the last ball wasn’t good enough.”

Rovers spent the majority of the second half with just Eastham in his own half, as they pressed for a way back into the game.

However, the hosts had several opportunities to catch them on the counter, hitting the bar with the score at 1-0 after Eastham was caught in possession.

In the end, the weight of Rovers’ territory told as McBride levelled from the spot after he was pushed in the box when trying to get on the end of a Pike cross.

“On the possession we had in the second half, we deserved the win,” Barr explained.

“But we did also give Brighton three unbelievable chances because we were so expansive.

“They’re the turning points, so we’ll look at the video, do a de-brief, but it’s always pleasing to win so late.

“There were loads of times where we could have put it in the box and didn’t, and there were times where we tried to thread a ball through and it wasn’t on.

“In general though we played the second half in their half, but there’s still loads and loads of learning to do, especially for the forward players.

“We’ll look at it and do some work on things.”