SHANE Duffy went from zero to hero as he scored an extra-time winner to send Rovers into the third round of the EFL Cup on a night of drama at a deserted Ewood Park.

The second-round clash attracted a crowd of just 3,448 supporters which made it the lowest attendance at the ground for a league, FA Cup or League Cup match since September 1986.


But those who did attend were treated to a thrilling if mistake-laden contest.

An upset was on the cards when the League Two Railwaymen raced into a two-goal lead through Billy Bingham and Chris Dagnall.

But their Championship opponents fought back and, after Hope Akpan reduced the deficit with his first goal of the campaign, teenager Scott Wharton scored his first for the club, before Craig Conway made it two goals in as many games to turn the tie on its head.

The Railwaymen were not finished yet, though, and Dagnall’s second goal took it to extra-time.

And that’s where the suspension-free Duffy, playing his first match since being sent off and netting two own goals at the Cardiff City Stadium, emerged to be the hero.

It was the first clash with Crewe since December 30, 2000 when Matt Jansen swept Rovers to a 1-0 home win which left them third in Division One.

Fast forward 16 years and the club finds itself at the foot of the Championship.

And it was clear to see why in a first half in which they fell two goals down to a Railwaymen side which finished bottom of League One last season.

Rovers started brightly enough with two of the players recalled to the starting line-up going close to fashioning a second-minute opener.

Anthony Stokes swapped passes with Liam Feeney before seeing the ball taken off his foot by Oliver Turton.

Feeney then curled over after Rovers broke away after a corner.

But it was Crewe who went in front in the eighth minute in spectacular fashion.

Rovers have conceded some rank bad goals so far this season but there was little they could do to prevent Bingham’s 25-yard thunderbolt from rocketing into the top corner.

Having taken the lead the Railwaymen were happy to get into shape and let the game be played in front of them.

And Rovers did not threaten until the final 10 minutes of the half when they finally displayed some urgency.

Duffy saw a header brilliantly saved from a Conway corner before Sam Gallagher skewed a clear shooting opportunity horribly wide.

It proved to be a costly miss as Crewe doubled their advantage in the 39th minute.

The recalled David Raya was to blame, spilling another long-range attempt from Bingham, with Dagnall reacting quickly to stab in the rebound.

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Rovers need a response and they got one within three minutes when Jason Lowe threaded a fine pass through to Akpan who took a touch before poking the ball home smartly.

An equaliser should have followed three minutes after the restart when Stokes raced clear and laid the ball on a plate for his strike-partner. Gallagher’s goal-bound shot, however, was blocked by Jon Guthrie.

Then it was the turn for Rovers to survive not one but two scares as George Cooper rattled the woodwork before Raya produced an astonishing stop to deny Callum Saunders.

Rovers boss Owen Coyle responded by bringing on Danny Graham and Danny Guthrie but it was the Railwayman who went close again as Cooper tested Raya, who later kept out an effort from Alex Kiwomya.

The substitutions, however, were having the desired effect and Rovers restored parity in the 70th minute.

Ben Garratt flapped at Conway’s corner from the left and, while Wharton saw a header hit the bar, he bundled home the rebound to open his account on his only his second appearance for his boyhood club.

And the comeback looked to be complete two minutes from the end of normal time when Graham headed back a deep Feeney cross to Conway who acrobatically volleyed the ball into the roof of the net.

Lancashire Telegraph:

But back came Crewe and in the third minute of injury-time Dagnall fired in his second after Kiwomya pounced on a mistake by Stephen Hendrie.

That took the contest into extra-time and Rovers made a strong start to the opening period with Gallagher and Graham nearly scoring with headers and Wharton seeing a shot cleared off the line by Jon Guthrie.

But they were not to be denied and in the 97th minute Duffy headed in a Conway corner to go some way to making amends for his performance in the Welsh capital.

And the centre-back nearly doubled his tally in the second period when he headed over a fizzed Hendrie cross.


Rovers: Raya, Lowe (Marshall 70), Duffy, Wharton, Hendrie, Feeney, Byrne (Guthrie 56), Akpan, Conway, Gallagher, Stokes (Graham 56). Subs not used: Steele, Greer, Mahoney, Doyle.

Booked: Guthrie, Gallagher.

Goals: Akpan 42, Wharton 70, Conway, Duffy 97.

Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Hollands (Jones 77), Bingham, Cooper (Ray 79), Kiwomya, Dagnall, Saunders (Lowe 65). Subs not used: Richards, Nugent, Kirk, Ainley.

Goals: Bingham 8, Dagnall 39, 90.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.

Attendance: 3,448 (535 away).