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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
07:17 1st July 2015

Attendance: 5,650 (1,150)

Rovers exited the Capital One Cup in the first round at the hands of Championship Birmingham City.

Ellis Harrison pulled the Gas level after Jacques Maghoma put the Blues ahead only to see his effort cancelled out by Andrew Shinnie just three minutes later.

Darrell Clarke made three changes to the side that lost to Northampton Town bringing in Ollie Clarke, Jake Gosling and Ellis Harrison at the expense of Chris Lines, Cristian Montano and Matty Taylor.

The Rovers boss opted to play a 3-5-2 formation operating Tom Lockyer as the middle centre back and Jake Gosling playing off of the front two of Ellis Harrison and skipper for the game Jermaine Easter.

Both sides started the game slowly attempting to feel each other out with neither side really creating any opportunities.

It was just before the half hour mark when Rovers supporters finally saw a slick passing move from their side as a powerful run through the middle of the park from James Clarke created space inside the penalty area for Stuart Sinclair. Clarke picked out Sinclair in the area but Blues skipper Paul Robinson took the ball off his toe before he could pull the trigger.

Darrell Clarkes men continued to press with wing-backs Daniel Leadbitter and Lee Brown finding space to hurt the Championship side.

Rovers first real effort of the game came from birthday boy Jake Gosling. Stuart Sinclair was bundled to the ground earning Rovers a free kick which Gosling took directly and almost caught out Blues keeper Adam Legzdins at his near post.

However it was Birmingham who had the best chance of the half just before injury time as a defensive mix-up allowed Wesley Thomas a strike on goal but the Birmingham man attempted a close range chip but looped his shot well over. 

The men in blue and white came out all guns blazing in the opening period of the second half as Daniel Leadbitter's surging run found him space in the box before the ball fell to the feet of Lee Brown who shot into arms of Legzdins.

Rovers continued to throw the kitchen sink at the Blues back line as a lovely worked move fell to Stuart Sinclair who thundered a shot goalwards only to see Paul Robinson throw his body in the way before Birmingham cleared the danger.

With a new found drive from Rovers, another powerful run through the centre of the pitch from Tom Parkes created space for Lee Brown to whip a ball into the box which Jermaine Easter headed narrowly wide.

Darrell Clarke's men continued to attack and the Rovers wing-backs continued to find space as Lee Brown was able to pick out Ellis Harrison on the edge of the area, the young Welshman took a touch and laid the ball into the path of Ollie Clarke who lashed a shot just wide.

Seconds later the Championship side were level, following a clash in the penalty area between Steve Mildenhall and Wesley Thomas the ball popped free and Jacques Maghoma was on hand to stroke home the opener over the head of Tom Parkes on the line.

Rovers made a double substitution just after the hour mark as Matty Taylor and Cristian Montano replaced Jermaine Easter and Jake Gosling and Taylor was instantly involved in Rovers equaliser.

Taylor's turn of pace pulled him clear of the Birmingham back line, but his cross to Daniel Leadbitter was blocked and fell to Ellis Harrison who fired home from inside the area.

However, Rovers weren't level for long as a strike from distance from Andrew Shinnie crept past an outstretched Steve Mildenhall to put the Blues back in front three minutes later.

Darrell Clarke made his third and final change with just under 10 minutes to play as James Clarke was replaced by Ryan Broom who made his Bristol Rovers debut.

Rovers continued to press as a Cristian Montano corner was cleared to Ellis Harrison on the left wing. Harrison's drilled a cross into the area but Tom Lockyer could only head wide.

Minutes later another slick passing move from Darrell Clarke's men created space for Stuart Sinclair who fired his shot over the crossbar.

Both sides exchanged opportunities in the closing exchanges as Matty Taylor's left footed drive was stopped by Legzdins and at the other end Steve Mildenhall denied Wesley Thomas.

Rovers pressed for that second goal but referee Andy Davies blew the whistle seconds after Ollie Clarke blazed his shot over from distance.

Up next for Rovers is a short trip south to take on Yeovil Town at Huish Park on Saturday (15th August).

Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, J. Clarke (Broom - 80), Parkes, Brown, Gosling (Montano - 63), Lockyer, O. Clarke, Sinclair, Harrison, Easter (C) (Taylor - 63).

Unused Substitutes: Preston (GK), Malpas, Bodin, Blissett.

Birmingham: Legzdins, Eardly, Morrison (Spector - 71), Robinson (C), Grounds, Gleeson, Davis, Maghoma (Gray - 80), Shinnie, Novak, Thomas (Arthur - 90).

Unused Substitutes: Kuszcak (GK), Donaldson, Cotterill, Brown.

    QUICK FACTS

    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.