Saturday, February 23, 2013

Morecambe 1-1 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

Rovers returned from their trip north with a well earned point following a 1-1 draw with top half Morecambe at the Globe Arena. On the back of our first defeat in 7 in midweek, we got off to the worst possible start and found ourselves a goal down within 3 minutes. A much improved second half performance saw us take the game to our hosts, equalising early and then failing to take our good opportunities to go and win it. Still, a point away from home against a fellow in-form side is a good result.

Eliot Richards scored Rovers' equaliser in the second half
Danny Woodards, Eliot Richards and Tom Hitchcock came in to the starting line-up, replacing Fabian Broghammer, Ollie Norburn and Ryan Brunt, meaning John Ward opted for a 4-4-2 for the first time since our 3-0 win at Fleetwood in January. Despite the more positive formation, Rovers found themselves behind with the game just seconds old. A mistake from captain Tom Parkes saw Morecambe come away with the ball and striker Jack Redshaw fired home in to the bottom corner beyond Steve Mildenhall for 1-0. The response to Tuesday night defeat was always going to be crucial and it appeared that heads may be down slightly with a start like that but fortunately those fears were put to bed fairly quickly. Whilst it was far from spectacular, and Morecambe did have a few more chances, Rovers rallied and grew in to the game. Redshaw was proving a nuisance and tested Mildenhall once or twice but the resolute duo of Parkes and Mark McChrystal resumed normal service and provided good protection for their goalkeeper. Neither Richards or Hitchcock were wholly effective in the first period but there was a shot from the former that required a save from Barry Roche. Blocked efforts from Woodards and Joe Anyinsah also put the Shrimps backline under pressure but there was little threat to their goal.

There was only 1700 inside the stadium but you'd be forgiven for thinking that there was 17000 given the tremendous noise Gasheads were making at one end of the ground. The acoustics were conducive to loud chanting and our loyal supporters ensured they were heard. 330 loyal fans made the long trip north and didn't have to wait too long before being rewarded by the team once the second half was underway. Rovers started the way Morecambe had done in the first 45 minutes and got themselves on to the front foot. Just 3 minutes in and Lee Brown delivered a cross for Richards to head beyond Roche to restore parity. It was Richards' fifth of the season and gave Rovers a great platform to build from in the remaining minutes. Not long after Hitchcock anticipated a mistake from home defender Nick Fenton and ran through on goal but as he approached the penalty area he hesitated slightly, allowing Fenton to recover and make a good block to deny the striker his first league goal. Kevin Ellison, a thorn in Rovers' side on many an occasion over the years, wasn't as influential as usual and that was testament to the way central midfielders Seanan Clucas and John-Joe O'Toole were playing in the spine of the team. They couldn't prevent Redshaw getting in an effort on goal that Mildenhall saved with his chest but they weren't to be breached too often after that. Our hosts did however strike a post from a header in the penalty box but it was cleared to safety immediately, much to the relief of the Rovers fans at the opposite end of the stadium.

The best opportunity of the second half fell to Richards though as he was put through on goal. His pace kept him beyond any defenders and it looked for all the world that the striker would score but his shot lacked conviction and was saved by the legs of Roche. It was at that moment that you felt we'd have to settle for a point, despite several pumped balls in to their box as the minutes ticked down. Unfortunately Clucas picked up what appeared to be a nasty looking knee injury when attempting to hit a rebound in the Morecambe penalty area and needed to be substituted. He went off on a stretcher but was able to stand in the dugout and watch the final minutes of the game alongside his manager. This allowed Ellis Harrison to come on for the first time since his first senior goal against Rotherham United at the New York Stadium but the circumstances didn't allow him to make much of an impact as Rovers sat back in stoppage time, content with a point for their hard work.

The final whistle sounded and an undefeated trip to a Morecambe side who recently won away at Port Vale was over. All things considered it's a great point but the greedy, new-improved Rovers will be disappointed not to have gone on and won it with the one-on-ones we had. It's important we build on that result as we head in to a midweek game with promotion-chasing Northampton Town at Sixfields. The Cobblers have been something of a bogey side for Rovers in the past although we did defeat Aidy Boothroyd's men at the Mem earlier in the season. A lot has changed since then for both sides though and Tuesday night will be a very difficult game. We'll need to be ready for a battle.

Up the Gas!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your thoughts...