Sunday, September 09, 2012

Bristol Rovers 2-2 Aldershot (League Two)

Clarkson gave Rovers the lead against the Shots
Rovers came from 2-1 down to level in the 90th minute at home to Aldershot Town at the Mem yesterday afternoon to claim a well deserved point. It may not have been the victory Gasheads were looking for but in the circumstances a point is better than nothing.

An erratic Rovers defence gifted the Shots 2 goals with near enough their only efforts on target which gives you some indication of how dominant we were for large spells of the game. Matt Harrold recovered from injury and replaced Michael Smith in the starting eleven, with Eliot Richards reverting back to a right midfield role. There were no other changes to the team that started against Yeovil Town in the JPT 4 days earlier.

It was a bright start on a bright day from the home side as Rovers played some neat football in forward areas. It was an encouraging start and it wasn't long before we had something to show for our good play. David Clarkson had yet to score for the club since signing in the summer but he addressed that stat in superb style from 25 yards out. Harrold diverted the ball in to Clarkson's path and the Scottish striker had time and space to fire an unstoppable shot beyond goalkeeper Jamie Young and in to the top corner. He was rightly chuffed to hit the back of the net and was mobbed by his team-mates who were equally pleased that he had scored his first Gas goal. It was precisely the start we needed to calm the entire stadium and there was a real belief in our play that we would go on and create more chances. We forced an early corner after the re-start but were handed a typically cruel setback just minutes later.

A long diagonal from the Shots midfield after Jim Paterson was seemingly fouled on the halfway line found striker Craig Reid who took a touch and deftly lifted the ball over Sam Walker and in off the far post. It was a top finish but something that should have been defended much more comfortably by our defence. Reid peeled away from Cian Bolger too easily in order to control the pass and he made sure he let the Rovers fans know who had just scored. Bolger was superb at centre half other than at that one moment but it seems every little mistake we make is being punished at the moment. One thing worth noting is that despite Bolger and Tom Parkes being great young defenders it appears they need a more experienced player alongside them. Garry Kenneth with his quality should be that player and is thought to be 2 weeks away from being fit enough to start, but who he would partner remains to be seen.

At 1-1 the game became a little tighter and there were few incidents between then and half-time. The second half though began in the same vain as the first with Rovers well on top and causing problems going forward. From a corner Clarkson teed Lee Brown up for a strike from 18 yards but the ball crashed off the outside of the post and away from danger. I for one thought that was a warning sign of things to come in the rest of the half but I was to be proven wrong. Despite still having most of the play, our visitors took the lead in the 57th minute when Alex Rodman fired home from inside the box. A poor defensive header from Wayne Brown fell to the winger who zipped a low drive beyond the dive of Walker in to the bottom corner. Coincidentally he was the scorer this time last year when the Shots won 1-0 at the Mem and clearly wanted to stamp his mark in Bristol yet again. So in an all too familiar fashion this season, we found ourselves behind at home with everything to do.

Rovers fans wanted the introduction of Fabian Broghammer to introduce some width to the team and Mark McGhee seemingly felt his side needed that injection of pace. He replaced Jim Paterson and immediately began to make an impact with his trickery and desire to attack. Both he and Harrold had efforts saved from the left hand side of the box before the game looked like trickling away from Rovers. Keeper Young time-wasted every single time he received the ball and what was needed was a half-decent referee who would have nipped it in the bud early on. As it was though the referee, who conformed to the quality of most officials in the lower leagues (poor), he allowed him to take between 5-10 seconds every time he caught the ball or had a goal kick. It seemed to be a horrible tactic that was about to pay dividends for the away side... until the 90th minute.

Broghammer nets his first Gas goal to equalise
Substitute Oliver Norburn fired goalwards from 25 yards out but saw his venomous effort hit the midriff of Harrold and to the side of the penalty area. There was a collective sigh in the Blackthorn End until it became clear the ball had ricocheted to Richards, who fired a delicious ball across the 6 yard box where Broghammer was charging in. The German skilfully diverted the ball behind him with the outside of his left foot and in to the bottom corner. He was over the moon and celebrated with Clarkson until there was a sudden realisation among the team that we could still go on and win it. The equaliser was well deserved and serves Jamie Young absolutely right for what is effectively cheating. Despite the urgency from the team we were unable to create any other chances and the full-time whistle sounded.

It was a much improved performance and we've finally netted our first goals at home, with both scorers hoping to push on and do the same more consistently from now on. If we could get our defending right we will easily win games in this division, but there seems to be a lack of understanding and leadership there at the moment. Perhaps the recoveries of Kenneth and Danny Woodards are more essential than we had previously cared to imagine. We now go in to a double header of away games with unbeaten Gilingham our opponents next Saturday at Preistfield and Plymouth Argyle at Home Park the following Tuesday. If we can maintain our undefeated away record in tact (albeit we've only completed one away match so far!) then our season will definitely be on an upward curve. If we can improve our evident lack of organisation defensively I'm confident we can record some 3 point hauls soon enough.

Up the Gas!

1 comment:

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