Rovers exited the FA Cup at the third-round stage for the fifth successive year as they were undone by late drama at Wigan Athletic.

Aynsley Pears had a final half an hour to forget as Rovers shipped three goals, including one in injury time, to exit the competition at the first hurdle once again.

They had taken a deserved lead through Reda Khadra at the start of the second half and looked to have sent the game to extra-time when Daniel Ayala headed in an equaliser.

Wigan had shocked Rovers with two goals in 14 minutes, the first a Max Power strike from distance that wrong-footed Pears to nestle in the net. And the ‘keeper then fumbled the ball over the line as the Latics came from behind to lead with 15 minutes to play.

The game looked set for extra-time when Ayala headed in a late equaliser but Thelo Aasgaard curled home an injury strike to give the League one side victory.

A fifth successive exit at the third round stage it is also now 12 successive visits to the DW Stadium without victory for Rovers.

Tony Mowbray went with five changes, one enforced as Harry Pickering missed out with injury, while there were recalls for Aynsley Pears, Daniel Ayala, Tayo Edun, Tyrhys Dolan and Sam Gallagher.

That saw Dolan line up in an unfamiliar right wing-back role with Ryan Nyambe among those to miss out altogether. The ability to name subs saw 16-year-old Ash Phillips and 17-year-old Adam Wharton included in the matchday squad.

Buckley was able to continue in his attacking role and chased his own flick on in the opening minute to bring Rovers their first chance. Goalkeeper Jamie Jones was quick off his line but his clearance landed at the feet of Lewis Travis who couldn’t take advantage of the unguarded goal as he sliced his attempt from 35 yards.

Wigan did look to exploit Dolan down that flank, Tom Pearce able to deliver a fifth minute cross that was met by Will Keane, although the presence of Ayala ensured he couldn’t get a clean header to trouble Pears.

Gallagher and Ben Brereton had efforts in as many minutes, the first straight at Jones from the left edge of the box while from slightly more centre of goal, Brereton thumped a shot just over the top.

Rovers were beginning to take charge and should have led in the 15th minute. Buckley did excellently to win the ball and then to run clear of the final defender but faced with the prospect of trying to score from a tight angle or square for the unmarked Brereton who took the former, allowing Jones to block at his near post.

Gallagher’s game lasted only half an hour as he was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, pulling up as he chased a ball down the wing. Reda Khadra came on in his place.

Dolan then followed Jan Paul van Hecke into the book as the game began to become scrappy.

Wigan were competitive but unthreatening, and invited pressure with some poor play out from the back.

And they were fortunate not to fall behind before the break.

First Ayala, marching forward from the back, headed over a Khadra cross before Brereton thought he had opened the scoring seconds later on the stroke of half time.

He was found by a defence-splitting Joe Rothwell pass to round Jones and slide the ball into the empty net, though his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag. Replays showed it to be a very tight call.

The Chile international then had another attempt in injury time, capitalising on a loose pass before a powerful effort was beaten away by Jones.

Rovers emerged for the second half without captain Lenihan who had taken a knock earlier in the half. Bradley Johnson was on in his place as Rovers stuck with their three-man defence.

There was no denying Rovers the lead they found four minutes after the re-start. Rothwell found Khadra with an excellent cross-field pass as Rovers broke from a Wigan counter and there was no doubt in the Brighton loanee’s mind what he was going to do, working the ball onto his right foot before firing a shot back across Jones and into the corner.

Rothwell has having a bigger influence on the game and with it Rovers were able to have more purpose about their play.

Brereton then controlled a Khadra cross, before hooking it just wide on the turn.

A bolt out of the blue, as the hosts were preparing a double change, saw the Latics level with their first shot on target of the afternoon. It wasn’t one Pears would have wanted to see again, the ‘keeper wrong-footed by a 25-yarder from Power that found the middle of the goal.

Pears’ confidence had taken a hit after the equaliser and he almost cost his side moments later, coming for a right-wing corner but getting nowhere near it as Kell Watts headed against the bar before Rovers to scramble it clear.

And the keeper’s torrid time continued as when a free kick was back across goal, Pears fumbled it over the line to give Wigan the lead with 15 minutes to play.

The whole feel of the game, never mind the scoreline, had changed on the back of it as Wigan missed an excellent chance to seal it, Wigan attacking down their right before the ball was pulled back for Lang to fire over unmarked from 12 yards.

Rovers in the meantime had sent on Dan Butterworth who thumped a shot over the top on his left foot as Rovers went in search of an equaliser.

With a minute of normal time remaining, Rovers did find an equaliser. Khadra delivered a pacey free-kick from the right that was met by Ayala from three yards out to turn home.

As we awaited extra-time, there were still five minutes to play before reaching that stage. And in the fourth of those minutes, Wigan came up with the eventual winner.

Substitute Theo Aasgaard took aim from the left edge of the box, as Rovers only half cleared a corner, he shot drifting over the head of Pears to nestle in the net.


Wigan: Jones, Keane, Darikwa (Massey, 66), Kerr, Edwards, Watts, Power, Pearce (McClean, 66), Naylor (Aasgaard, 77), Lang (Jones, 85), Whatmough

Subs: Amos, Robinson, Bayliss, Tilt


Rovers: Pears, Dolan, Lenihan (Johnson, 46), van Hecke, Ayala, Edun, Travis, Rothwell, Buckley (Butterworth, 70), Gallagher (Khadra, 31), Brereton

Subs: Kaminski, Rankin-Costello, Garrett, Magloire, Phillips, A Wharton