Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bristol Rovers 0-2 Derby County (Friendly)

Rovers suffered their first pre-season defeat at the Mem last night as Championship side Derby County proved too strong. Goals from the diminutive Jamie Ward and new County signing Johnny Russell secured a 2-0 win for Nigel Clough's Rams.

Ollie Clarke - Lifted from:
The result shouldn't dishearten Gasheads though. Defensively, against very good opposition, we played very well and against League Two opposition we should have no problems in registering an impressive number of clean sheets. Whilst going forwards we weren't as good we still had our moments and could easily have got on the scoresheet if David Clarkson hadn't seen his first half strike cleared off the line. We do have deficiencies in midfield, of that there is no doubt, but that should soon be addressed with the signing of a senior central midfielder. He will be surrounded by young players but on yesterday's showing they're hardworking enough to be effective first team players.

After putting Derby under pressure in the first quarter of an hour by forcing a sequence of corners, the visitors took the lead in spectacular fashion through Ward. The referee awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal and Ward struck a thunderbolt that nestled in the bottom corner past Steve Mildenhall. There was no real defensive wall to block the effort but it was an impressive hit by the former Torquay United attacker and Derby deserved the lead. They controlled the game from this point but Rovers still had some neat passages of play in the final third. Ollie Clarke was getting involved in the middle of midfield and Oli Norburn was presenting an array of fancy flicks at every available opportunity. He needs to tone that down a little bit but he does have the confidence to pull it off a lot of the time.

Derby made it 2-0 in the second half when Russell found the back of the net via a deflection but Rovers wouldn't have been too deflated by the scoreline. They know they had played well against very strong opposition and will have taken great encouragement from the fact they had limited Derby to just 2-0. The young players showed they were willing runners and will thrive in the first team if given the opportunity, something they are likely to get plenty of.

The team were rocked pre-match by the news Fabian Broghammer had an ACL injury ruling him out for at least 9 months - the entirety of the new season. It's a cruel blow for both Rovers and for Broghammer with the German only recently having signed a new 1 year deal. How both parties probably wish they hadn't completed a new deal now. Still, my best wishes go to Broghammer for a full recovery.

It was also confirmed that Ryan Brunt required an exploratory operation on his knee and although no timeframe was given for his return, John Ward is unlikely to have him available for at least 4 weeks. Whether or not the club are able to manoeuvre finances in order to bring in reinforcements remains to be seen but it seems unlikely given Ward's comments this week about being close to the wage cap.

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