Ayala makes his return as the U23s lose at Chelsea

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Daniel Ayala got through an hour of football upon his return from injury as Rovers U23s fell to defeat at Chelsea.

The 30-year-old has been out of action since December and made his return as part of a back three as Billy Barr changed formation following the defeat to Derby.

Ayala lined up alongside Sam Barnes and Louie Annesley, with Dan Pike and Lenni Rae Cirino acting as wing-backs – whilst Jordan Eastham returned between the sticks.

Isaac Whitehall partnered Jake Garrett in the midfield, and a front three of Dan Butterworth, Sam Burns and Connor McBride led the line.

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Both sides stood strong in the opening twenty minutes or so, with the first real chance coming on 23 minutes. Harvey Vale struck from range, but Eastham was equal to the effort.

Burns then threatened as he saw his effort kept out well by Ethan Wady, before McBride and Butterworth both had chances as the sides went into the break level.

The hosts came out from the break the stronger of the two sides as they took the lead just five minutes after the restart. Charlie Webster’s strike was fortunately deflected into the path of George Nunn, who slotted home past Eastham.

Substitute Joe Nolan should have levelled the scores just after coming on as he fired over from inside the six yard box.

Butterworth then thought he had levelled the scores as he volleyed home from McBride’s cross, but the Scot was adjudged to have been offside when delivering the ball.

Rovers pushed for an equaliser but after Jake Garrett’s cross-cum-shot was tipped over the bar and Butterworth agonisingly wide, the match came down as Billy Barr’s side fell to defeat on their final away game of the season.

The curtain comes down on the PL2 season as Rovers host Chelsea this Friday, with kick off scheduled for 4pm.

Rovers: Eastham, Pike, Barnes, Ayala (Nolan 60′), Annesley (Saadi 46′), Cirino, Whitehall, Garrett, Butterworth, Burns, McBride (Durrant 77′)

Subs Not Used: Stergiakis, Harlock.

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