Bristol Rovers 1
A superb 40 yard strike from Ollie Norburn earned Rovers a deserved point at Whaddon Road this evening.
The midfielder’s spectacular strike sparked scenes of joyous celebration amongst the 1,416 away supporters and the fans remained on the pitch for several minutes after the final whistle to share the moment.
Manager John Ward made one change to his starting lineup, bringing in Danny Woodards in place of Fabian Broghammer.
The home side found it difficult to make any real impact in the opening fifteen minutes as Rovers tore at them from the first whistle.
Ward’s side created two excellent opportunities in that opening spell and were thwarted on both occasions by Cheltenham shot stopper Scott Brown.
The keeper did well to dive to his right to keep out a powerful left foot shot from John-Joe O’’Toole and then kept out a Tom Parkes shot with his feet.
Gradually, though, the home side forced their way back into the reckoning. A Keith Lowe free kick was blocked by the Rovers defensive wall and Shaun Harrad directed a shot straight at Steve Mildenhall.
Had it not been for Michael Smith, they would have taken a 26th minute lead, as the defender was in the right place to clear a Steve Elliott header off the line.
There were few chances after that, and just when it looked as though the half was going to end goalless, Cheltenham scored the opening goal.
It was deep into stoppage time when a Kaid Mohamed shot was deflected to Harrad out on the right and the Cheltenham man made no mistake with his shot, which beat Mildenhall before nestling in the corner of the net.
Jason Taylor was wide with shot early in the second half, while Joe Anyinsah saw his weak header easily cleared at the other end.
The home side really should have increased their lead on 55 minutes when a cross from the right reached Jermaine McGlashan in the box. However Mildenhall rushed off his line to block the eventual shot and the chance was gone.
As Rovers probed for an opening, O’Toole hit a left foot shot wide of the target and then forced Scott Brown to make a save from another left foot effort. The keeper did well on that occasion, diving to his left to touch the ball round the post.
There was a suspicion of handball when Tom Hitchcock ran on to a clearance from Mildenhall, but nothing was given and as the clock ran down there was further pressure from a Rovers side determined to equalise.
They left it late, but when the ball fell to Norburn as we entered the final seconds of added time, the midfielder pulled the trigger and the ball flew past Brown before he could move.
Norburn, surely, will never score a better goal.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Joe Anyinsah (Tom Hitchcock, 78), Seanan Clucas (Eliot Richards, 69), Ollie Norburn,John-Joe O’Toole, Danny Woodards (Fabian Broghammer, 54), Ryan Brunt
Substitutes: David Clarkson, Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Clayton McDonald
Yellow Cards: Woodards, Brunt, Parkes, Smith, Hitchcock
Cheltenham Town: Scott Brown, Keith Lowe, Steve Elliott, Jermaine McGlashan, Shaun Harrad (Darren Carter, 73), Russell Penn, Paul Benson (Byron Harrison, 80), Sido Jombati, Kaid Mohamed (Sam Deering, 89), Jason Taylor, Michael Hector
Substitutes: Marlon Pack, Darryl Duffy, Luke McCullough, Joe Hanks
Referee: David Phillips
Rovers supporters: 1,416