Friday, December 28, 2012

Aldershot 2-2 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

Eliot Richards rescued Rovers with an 87th minute equaliser
Rovers came from behind twice to snatch a point away at fellow strugglers Aldershot Town on Boxing Day. A David Clarkson penalty and a deflected Eliot Richards strike cancelled out goals from Michael Hector and Craig Reid for the Gas to ensure John Ward was undefeated in his first game in charge.

It wasn't a pretty spectacle for supporters of either side as the slippery conditions made passing football almost impossible, but Gasheads in particular witnesses a battling performance from their team. Having said that Rovers showed little quality going forward and only had two shots on target during the 90 minutes, which is quite an embarrassing statistic. Fortunately though we made those efforts count.

The penalty area that Rovers were attacking in the first half was borderline unplayable with turf flying up every time a player ran through it and it wasn't surprising that the referee had a long hard look at it 20 minutes before kick off. It was probably too late to call off the game because of the state of one penalty area and so the game wasn't in doubt, but it meant that Rovers lone striker Tom Eaves had a very tiring job when he was running in behind. Fabian Broghammer started the game brightly on the left wing but his delivery in to the box was poor and made life relatively easy for Shots keeper Jamie Young. There wasn't much between the two sides until Hector struck gold with a great effort from the edge of the penalty area that flew in to the top corner. Sam Walker has yet to keep a clean sheet for Rovers but there was little he could have done about this one.

1-0 down and with no real efforts on goal. It wasn't looking good.

But in the second half we responded and duly got ourselves the equaliser. Returning Cian Bolger played the ball left to Broghammer, who took the ball down on his chest before being felled by an Aldershot defender in the box. The ref had no hesitation in awarding a penalty which Clarkson drilled home in front of the travelling Rovers fans. Game on at 1-1, right? Well, it was, but the home side were gifted the opportunity to get their noses back in front before we could. Garry Kenneth gave away a spot-kick of our own to allow substitute Craig Reid to restore the host's advantage. The game, as usual, looked to be drifting away from our grasps until just 3 minutes from time. Richards turned well 18 yards out and hit a scuffed shot goalwards. It took a deflection which wrong-footed Young and the ball trickled slowly over the line. It was exactly what John Ward's Rovers needed and the 480 Rovers fans celebrated loudly and proudly. Unfortunately we couldn't sniff out a winner although Eaves went close when he fired a cross-cum-shot towards the bottom corner. It was, however, saved by the legs of Young and the danger was cleared. The final whistle then sounded and both sides had to settle for a point. It wasn't what we were looking for before the match but in the circumstances I think we have to take it.

It only becomes a decent result if we can get a victory tomorrow against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road but it'll be a tough test. The Rubies are flying high and dispatched of Wycombe 4-0 in their game on Boxing Day, so they'll be very confident going in to this west country clash. Rovers' 1400 away allocation sold out yesterday meaning that the club 92nd out of 92 clubs is showing just how proud Gasheads. It's meant that many fans, including myself, have been frantically searching for spare tickets in the past 24 hours and with little luck. I left it ridiculously late to attempt to buy my tickets and was gutted to hear we'd sold out. Fortunately I managed to source 3 spare tickets and snapped them immediately, although I have to collect two of them at the ground tomorrow. To say I was relieved to find some would be an understatement!

Let's do it Gas and prove the rest of the Football League wrong. Go and win it boys!

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