A MAKESHIFT Swindon Town XI concluded their Leasing.com Trophy campaign in losing fashion at the Memorial Stadium against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night, going down 1-0.

Mark Little’s second half tap in provided the game’s only goal as Rovers advanced to the competition’s knockout phase while Swindon made a premature exit after losing all three of their Southern Group F games.

Town’s fate was confirmed long before kick-off, and a hardy few supporters made the relatively short trip west to watch Richie Wellens’ fringe players contest a largely dull affair against a strong Rovers side.

Wellens made nine changes to his side that drew with Cheltenham in the FA Cup first round on Saturday.

Only Danny Rose and Rob Hunt retained their starting spots.

Luke McCormick returned between the posts while Tyler Reid, Tom Broadbent, Taylor Curran and Gabriel Zakuani were the defensive quartet to re-appear.

In midfield, Toumani Diagouraga was handed a rare start while Scott Twine played up front. Sidy Sanokho and first-year academy scholar Harry Parsons meanwhile made their full Swindon debuts.

Parsons was one of five scholars named on the team sheet – the others being Sam Smith, Massimo Giamattei, Anthony Cheshire and Toby Holland. Suspiciously, Rose and Hunt departed play with a quarter-of-hour played.

The former was forced off minutes into the game after picking up a minor knock during a 50-50 challenge to win possession – he was promptly replaced by Adam May.

Hunt was then replaced by Iandolo after he three times went down holding his hamstring.

Between both changes, Rovers carved out the game’s opening chance. A handball by Diagouraga granted ex-Town midfielder Kyle Bennett a chance from a free kick on the edge of the visitors’ 18-yard box.

Bennett squared the ball to home skipper Clarke, whose powerful drive was bravely blocked.

Rovers remained in control of the tie right up until the half-time whistle was sounded.

Clarke-Harris had a goal waved off for a foul in the build-up to his strike while Little nodded Bennett’s inviting cross from the left fractionally wide of McCormick’s far post.

Another 10 minutes passed until the hosts created their next chance. Strong build-up play in the final third granted Little the space he required on the right to shoot on the half-hour mark.

It’s possible the 31-year-old intended to cross the ball from the byline. Regardless, his strike tested McCormick – who held the defender’s powerful drive well.

Clarke-Harris had another effort blocked before a defensive mix-up between McCormick and Zakuani almost gifted Rovers an opener on the stroke of half-time.

Initially, McCormick made an excellent save from Nichols’ powerful strike from inside the area. Zakuani then tamely headed the ball back to the returning McCormick, who hurriedly cleared any danger with Rovers’ strike duo looming.

A goalless first half, hardly a classic.

Swindon started the second half brighter, but it was again Rovers that came closest to scoring in the opening exchanges.

Leahy’s corner from the right was met well by ex-Town defender Menayese. However, Rovers’ 24 could only power his effort over McCormick’s crossbar.

Wellens’ side squandered a similarly clear chance minutes later. A smart run by Reid after Twine ignited an attack saw a dangerous ball delivered into Rovers’ six-yard box from the right.

A waiting Iandolo slashed his effort wide of Van Stappershoef’s far post.

Rovers’ chances before the hour mark passed didn’t end there. Nichols should’ve done better from Leahy’s dangerous cross when he failed to make contact while Bennett drilled a powerful right-footed effort from inside the D wide of McCormick’s left post.

Zakuani counted himself fortunate when a deflected cross that struck his knee whistled wide of the visitors’ top right corner.

At the other end, Twine carved out a rare chance for Town when he successfully turned his man before proceeding to shoot on the edge of the D – a shot that was dragged wide.

Wellens granted teenager striker Toby Holland his first minutes in a Town shirt as Parsons was taken off with 20 minutes remaining.

But the game’s series of half chances eventually concluded in an effort that contained some more substance.

Unfortunately for Wellens’ makeshift XI, it was the dangerous Mark Little that put Rovers ahead.

A cross from the left was flicked on by Adeboyejo before Little scored inside the six-yard box.

Chances for both teams were few and far between after the goal – Twine had a shot blocked while Iandolo found himself outnumbered after piercing the hosts’ penalty area in the concluding five minutes.

A disappointing end to what has been a disappointing campaign, but perhaps a competition Wellens is pleased to see the back of.