Saturday, October 13, 2012

Burton Albion 1-1 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

The spoils were shared at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon as Rovers recorded a respectable draw with fifth placed Burton Albion. The overwhelming feeling for Gasheads this evening though will be one of frustration, as we threw away our 1-0 lead with another soft goal that should have been defended much better. David Clarkson, who was fit enough to start, scored a volley from 15 yards to give Rovers the lead, but Billy Kee headed home unmarked from a free-kick to equalise. There were few clear cut chances at either end but both sides will probably go away thinking they could have won it.

Clarkson firing home the opening goal
Still, we need to take the positives from the result. We've continued our good run of form by remaining unbeaten and we've done so at a very difficult place to go. Many teams will go to Burton and come unstuck so to hold them to a 1-1 draw is not a terrible scoreline. On the whole we looked solid and once again we were lead superbly by Garry Kenneth at the back. There's plenty to be encouraged with. However, it just goes to highlight how poor our start to the season was because although we've lost just once in 6 games, we sit in 21st position. Unfortunately for us Dagenham and Plymouth recorded away victories today to pull themselves away from the bottom, which makes our situation appear worse. But confidence within the squad should still be high given our improved performances and there's no reason why we can't continue to get better with each passing game.

The one change to the Rovers line-up came as a result of Derek Riordan's absence. Joe Anyinsah came in to the team on the right wing, meaning Eliot Richards was restored up front. It seemed to have the desired result, we tried to attack from the off and had a few spells of great football. As the match wore on Burton came in to it a little more but few chances were created at either end in truth. All that changed though on the half hour mark. Jim Paterson sent in a ball towards Tom Eaves at the back post which was headed towards the edge of the penalty area. Running on to the dropping ball was Clarkson who lashed home for his third goal of the season. At this point Rovers were comfortable and rarely came under any serious pressure from their hosts. Half-time came and the objective for the second 45 minutes would have been clear - remain disciplined and catch them on the counter attack.

Just 5 minutes after the interval our game plan required a change as Kee headed home from close range after a free-kick was delivered from the wing. The small ex-Torquay striker was unmarked in the 6 yard box to steer his header beyond Neil Etheridge and that will disappoint manager Mark McGhee. Still, there was plenty of time left to regain the lead. Oliver Norburn had a shot saved by goalie Stuart Tomlinson, whilst Fabian Broghammer couldn't convert the rebound. Richards also tried his luck but the ball sailed wildly over the crossbar. It was encouraging and you could sense the Burton back-line were becoming shaky. However, we didn't take advantage and the game became a midfield battle. Neither side really penetrated the other and the game began to peter out tamely. Adam Virgo was thrown on up front for Rovers to try and force a winner but there were no further pieces of goalmouth action for Tomlinson to deal with. There was a nervy moment when a Burton corner evaded every body in the box, despite the fact 15 men lunged themselves towards it! Jacques Maghoma picked up the loose ball but he hit a cross straight out for a goal kick and that was that. 1-1, points shared.

Rovers' away from hasn't been too bad this season in truth. If you can pick up positive results away from home and win the majority of home games then you're going to have a good season. We've got half of that going for us at the moment, now we need to turn dominance at home to more regular 3 point hauls. Torquay United lay in our way next weekend, in what should be a fiery clash at the Mem, before back-to-back journey's to Wimbledon and Accrington in the following 7 days. Let's hope we can maintain our momentum and climb up the table sooner rather than later. We're playing much better and look as good, if not better, than every side we face - I'm confident.

Up the Gas!

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