The FA Cup third round weekend has done many things, but shining a light on back-up goalkeepers has been one of them.

For Rovers, Aynsley Pears had a moment to forget, as Taylor Richards’ shot went through his hands and into the corner of the net, and with it, the hopes of an FA Cup run were at an end.

Twelve months earlier it was a mistake from Jayson Leutwiler in the 90th minute that led to Rovers exit the competition against 10-man Birmingham City.

Leeds United’s Kiko Casilla saw a shot go straight through him in their defeat to League Two side Crawley Town, while Jason Steele had quite the evening for Brighton.

The former Rovers goalkeeper was given a run-out for the Premier League side at Newport County, keeping up his run of having appeared in every cup outing for the Seagulls this season.

He had previously gone two seasons without a senior appearance for Brighton, his only games coming for their Under-21s side in the EFL Trophy, meaning that since leaving Rovers for Sunderland after relegation from the Championship in 2017, Steele has played just 26 matches.

Now 30, Steele looked on course for a clean sheet as Brighton edged their way towards victory at Rodney Parade. But in the sixth minute of injury time, Steele let a routine right-wing cross through his fingers, the ball ricocheting off defender Adam Webster and into the corner.

Penalties offered Steele redemption, and his heroics helped spare his, and Graham Potter’s blushes, the ‘keeper making four saves in the shut-out as Brighton finally progressed.



For Rovers goalkeeper Pears, he will have to reflect on his error and wonder when his next opportunity will come.

He hasn’t had the start to his Rovers career he would have wanted, conceding seven times from the 13 shots on target he has faced in his four appearances, which included the bizarre Reading goal less than 10 seconds into his debut.

Pears did bounce back to keep a clean sheet against his former club Middlesbrough in what was his last outing for the club prior to the weekend. But such is the life of a back-up goalkeeper, opportunities often coming when you least expect them, but also every mistake highlighted.