Bristol Rovers 1
Rovers gained their first point of the new season when they drew 1-1 with Barnet at Underhill tonight.
Trailing to an eighth minute goal scored by Ricky Holmes, they looked a little bit disjointed in the opening period, but a strong second half display and an equaliser from Matt Harrold earned them a point.
Had it not been for a superb display by Barnet’s Liam O’Brien, they would surely have returned home with all three points.
Defender Tom Parkes was included in the starting lineup for the game but Garry Kenneth, who was originally included, was a late withdrawal after being injured in the warm up.
Eliot Richards replaced the unfortunate Scot while there was a league debut for Seanan Clucas.
The opening exchanges were scrappy but the first opportunity of the game was created by the home side but Andy Yiadom headed wide of the target from a sixth minute corner.
Two minutes later, though, Barnet took the lead when Ricky Holmes won possession out wide near the halfway line and set off for goal, showing a clean pair of heels to the Rovers defence. Once he reached the area, he calmly slotted the Ball past Sam Walker.
The keeper then reacted quickly to turn a shot from Anthony Edgar round the post.
Mark Byrne saw a shot deflected behind for a corner as Barnet searched for a second goal, though it was Rovers who went close just after the half hour mark when David Clarkson’s long range effort was beaten away by keeper Liam O’Brien.
Rovers were unfortunate not to be back on level terms with five minutes of the half remaining when O’Brien dived low to his right to turn Lee Brown’s stunning volley round the post.
Matt Harrold’s header from the resulting corner was blocked by Jack Saville, though there was a suspicion of handball by the defender.
Rovers began the second half playing at a high tempo and took the game to their hosts.
Clarkson volleyed just wide and a long range effort from Eliot Richards was diverted behind for a corner.
Their play deserved an equaliser and it came with eight minutes gone when Matt Harrold powered home a header from Matt Gill’s corner.
Overworked Barnet goalkeeper Liam O’Brien saved another effort from Harrold and then the keeper somehow managed to keep out a shot from Richards which seemed destined for the bottom corner of the net.
The keeper saved further efforts from Clarkson, Richards and Wayne Brown as Rovers continued to attack.
The closest Barnet came to scoring was six minutes from time when Mark Byrne curled a shot just wide of the mark.
For all their second half domination, though, Rovers had to settle for a point.
Rovers: Sam Walker, Michael Smith,Tom Parkes, Adam Virgo, Jim Paterson, Eliot Richards (Fabian Broghammer, 81), Matt Gill, Seanan Clucas (Wayne Brown, 51), Lee Brown, David Clarkson, Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Ollie Norburn, Joe Anyinsah, Conor Gough
Yellow Cards: Clucas, Richards, Smith, Harrold
Barnet: Liam O’Brien, Barry Fuller, Jon Fortune, Jack Saville, Jordan Brown, Andy Yiadom (Oliver Lee, 85), Curtis Weston, Mark Byrne (George Sykes, 90), Anthony Edgar, Jon Nurse, Ricky Holmes (Jake Hyde, 70)
Substitutes: Clovis Kamojo, Ahmed Abdullah, Freddie Warren, Sam Cowler
Yellow Card: Saville
Referee: Stephen Bratt
Rovers Fans: 326