Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bristol Rovers 1-2 Rotherham United (League Two)

Rovers suffered their first defeat in 7 matches as they fell to a narrow 2-1 loss against promotion chasing Rotherham United at The Mem. A 3 year high attendance of 8600+ saw Kayode Odejayi and Lee Frecklington give the Millers a 2-0 lead within the space of three second half minutes before Joe Anyinsah scored a tremendous consolation in the 80th minute. Rovers then huffed and puffed but were unable to find the equaliser they were desperately chasing.

Eliot Richards challenged by Kari Arnasson
An unchanged Gas XI started the game relatively slowly and there was a lot of Rotherham possession that needed to be contained. Much to the dislike of Gasheads Rovers were made to shoot towards the Blackthorn End in the first half as Tom Parkes lost the coin toss, meaning that our slow start presented few goalscoring efforts for us to get behind. Still, for our visitors' healthy possession they did little to trouble us, although both Parkes and Mark McChrystal will testify that they'd been in a battle against the tall Alex Revell. There was nothing aesthetic about the way they played but the Millers were effective and lumping it long and then retaining the ball off their strikers. We stood up to the test and slowly began to work our way in to the game. Ryan Brunt did a lot of good work up top but Claude Davis, who got sent off in the reverse fixture, swallowed every lofted ball played forward. We lacked any real pace down the wings to really trouble Andy Warrington's goal although Anyinsah and Michael Smith combined well to send in a couple of great crosses that did, unfortunately, lead to nothing.

A battling performance saw us depart for half-time at 0-0 and the game was set up for a more enthralling second half. Disappointingly, after a spell of pressure, Rotherham got themselves a goal when they'd rarely even threatened Steve Mildenhall. Mildenhall dealt with an initial ball towards goal but the ball fell loose for Odejayi to slide home. Rovers fans rose to the occasion and drowned out the celebrations of Rotherham fans by singing Goodnight Irene to rally the players to go again. It was great to hear. Disaster struck though just 120 seconds later when Frecklington managed to shoot high in to the goal following a poor header from Parkes and Rovers had a mountain to climb to rescue the game.

We then began to push forward in an attempt to pull a goal back as quickly as possible but we were thwarted by resolute defending from Davis and Johnny Mullins. It looked like the game was drifting away however hope was restored 10 minutes from time through a stunning goal from Anyinsah. Now playing up front following an injury to Brunt, the former Charlton man turned and fired a swerving shot beyond Warrington and in to the far bottom corner. Game on. You could see Rotherham were visibly anxious by the fact we'd scored and Rovers began turning the screw with numerous balls played in and around the penalty area. There was one final opportunity when the referee awarded a free-kick just outside the box which Lee Brown ran over to take. His free-kick record at Rovers has been abysmal and much to our dismay, it continued. He shot high over the bar and that was the game near enough done. Bar a couple of headed clearances from 18 yards out Rotherham didn't have any more work to do and they'd earned themselves 3 points against the most impressive side in League Two in 2013.

Despite the fact we were all absolutely gutted we knew our boys could do no more and we applauded them off the pitch and sung Goodnight Irene with pride. All we've ever wanted was to see our players give it everything they've got in every single game they play and that's what we're getting right now. A number of people explained that they were genuinely disappointed that we'd lost but were pleased... because for the first time in a long time they actually care about our football club again. The togetherness is back and the boys in blue and white are representing us terrifically well. Perhaps it's a good thing that we've lost our first game for a while. It's all about our response now and it'll be interesting to see how the boys get over the loss and try to put things right against Morecambe on Saturday. Another tough game but that shouldn't faze us, we shouldn't be put off playing any side in this division.

I've no doubt John Ward will pick the lads back up and have them ready for the game - hopefully with Fabian Broghammer, Ryan Brunt and David Clarkson fit to play after sustaining injuries last night.

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