Hereford United 0
Bristol Rovers 1
Rovers recorded a hard fought win against Hereford United this evening, courtesy of David Clarkson’s 74th minute goal.
Lest we forget, pre season games are all about gaining fitness and match sharpness and this game saw all but Conor Gough get some game time. Hard work and commitment were very much in evidence and, during an improved second half performance, there were signs of good things to come from this balanced squad containing a mix of youth and experience.
Hereford gave Rovers a tough test, but there should be no questioning the fitness of John Ward’s squad come 3rd August and this game saw them take another step along the way as they prepare for that opening game down at Exeter.
Ward took a squad of 22 players to Edgar Street.
Ryan Brunt was not included in the travelling party, but Ellis Harrison and Mitch Harding, who missed out against Bath City last Friday, were fit enough to be included.
Rovers started brightly and had an early chance from a corner but Pat Keary’s downward header was beaten away by former Rovers keeper Rhys Evans.
The home side’s first chance came from a Josh O’Keefe free kick, which cannoned off Rovers’ defensive wall. They then forced a corner from which Sam Smith’s header seemed destined for the net. However his namesake, Michael Smith was on hand to clear off the line.
In their next attack, Hereford’s Chris Bush headed over, while Ollie Clarke’s free kick at the other end drifted wide of the upright.
Rovers were forced into making a change in the 29th minute when Fabian Broghammer was injured when making a challenge on one of the Hereford trialists. He was replaced by Shaquille Hunter.
Clarke fired over the bar shortly afterwards, but the home side were enjoying a great deal of possession at this stage and were quickly back on the offensive.
Another change was necessary on 34 minutes when Jim Paterson limped out of the action, to be replaced by Josh Southway.
Three minutes later Ellis Harrison almost opened the scoring, with a rasping drive that was beaten away by Evans.
Steve Mildenhall was then called into action at the other end, diving low to his right to push out a low shot from Smith.
Harrison again went close for Rovers before the break when he picked up on a ball from Harrold and fired a left foot shot towards goal which Evans did well to touch over the bar. It was the last meaningful action of the opening period, in which Rovers began and ended brightly, but in which Hereford enjoyed a great deal of possession.
Mark McChrystal and David Clarkson began the second half, replacing Pat Keary and Eliot Richards respectively. The home side made a number of changes, with Frankie Artus, Nat Jarvis, Jon Brown, Joel Edwards, and Daniel Lloyd Weston all starting the second period.
Rovers made a further change eight minutes in, when Ollie Norburn replaced George Rigg.
Both sides were working hard, but creating little in front of goal and Rovers made two more substitutions on the hour mark when Lee Brown and Alefe Santos replaced Ellis Harrison and Michael Smith.
After Jordan Goddard had replaced Clarke, Rovers created the first real opening of the half. Lee Brown touched the ball to Harrold, whose shot cleared the Hereford crossbar.
The home side fashioned a good opportunity when Oscar Radford headed just wide from a Chris Bush cross. Almost immediately Rovers went down the other end and Alefe Santos saw his shot blocked by keeper Daniel Lloyd Weston.
The rebound fell to Clarkson, who lashed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 10 yards.
Clarkson saw another effort blocked with five minutes remaining.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Pat Keary (Mark McChrystal 46), Tom Parkes (Tom Lockyer, 70), Jim Paterson , Ellis Harrison, George Rigg (Ollie Norburn, 53), Ollie Clarke (Jordan Goddard, 68), Fabian Broghammer (Shaquille Hunter, 29), Matt Harrold (Mitch Harding, 74), Eliot Richards (David Clarkson, 46)
Substitute: Conor Gough
Hereford United: Rhys Evans, Trialist, Chris Bush, Trialist, Rod McDonald, Rob Purdie, Josh O’Keefe, Dan Walker, Sam Smith, Dom Collins, Danny Pilkington
Substitutes: Oscar Radford, Steve Leslie, Frankie Artus, Joel Edwards, Nat Jarvis, Jon Brown, jarred Bowen, Billy Murphy, Max Kontic Koveney Hereford United