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21 August 2018 Venue The Memorial Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Focus On: Portsmouth

20 August 2018

By Gerry Prewett.

After securing the first win of the season at Wycombe on Saturday, Bristol Rovers face a testing home fixture against a Portsmouth team who are on fire. Pompey have won all three of their opening games and there is sure to be a very warm welcome for Gas hero Lee Brown when he steps out onto the Memorial Stadium pitch in an away shirt for the first time.

On Saturday Gareth Evans should have given Pompey a 25th-minute lead when the home side were awarded a penalty, but he saw his effort saved by Jonathan Mitchell. Evans made amends for that miss when he beat Mitchell to open the scoring in the 48th minute after a number of wasted opportunities.

Pompey were gifted their second of the game through an own goal when Jamal Lowe's cross was deflected in by Rob Dickie. Lowe then got on the scoresheet himself in the 65th minute after he made the most of a goalmouth scramble to flick his shot over the head of the Oxford goalkeeper.

Portsmouth defender Jack Whatmough gave his side a late scare when he sliced Tony McMahon's cross into his own net to make it 3-1. However, Lowe wrapped things up in stoppage time with the best goal of the game, the forward curling his shot in from 25 yards out as Oxford were left still searching for their first point of the season. 

Pompey Boss Kenny Jackett speaking after the game said,  “Out of the three homes games it was by far the best performance and it gives us all some heart and positiveness for the season ahead. That's something you always want to do early in the season.”

“We had some big chances in the first half. We were on top but couldn't find the final pass or score the clear cut chances I had. I did feel, though, if we kept playing like that they would come, and that proved the case. We had a number of chances - more than any game so far - so I'm really pleased.”

“I was pleased with the play going forward and I was pleased we scored four goals. The boys should gain confidence from that.”

“We haven't got it too right in terms of formation, personnel and balance of the team so far. The one thing we did do right in the Luton game was out back four goal narrow against the diamond and defended fantastically well. The other thing we did well in that game was we had one real piece of quality finishing from Lowe.”

“Whatever you say quality finishing is a big part of the game and can make the difference. We got that right and not a lot of other aspects, similarly against Wimbledon. But on this occasion we produced our best home performance which matched up slightly with the Blackpool game. I did think overall we deserved to win and was pleased.”

“A 100 per cent record is nice and winning three out of three. But there has to be some balance to it as well. Overall it was our best performance, but there's things to improve on as well.”

Looking at the history of all games between the clubs, in total there have been 41, with Pompey dominating, with 22 victories to Rovers 11. Only 4 of those wins have come away from Fratton however. 

The very first clash between the team was an FA Cup tie at Eastville on 13 January 1912. John Jones and Lional Louch goals for Portsmouth and a Hughes goal for Rovers sent the South coast team through to the second round. 

The first League game was on 12 February 1921 when Portsmouth won their home game 1-0 with Frank Stringfellow scoring for Pompey, one week later the teams fought out a 2-2 draw at Eastville. Stringfellow and David Watson scoring for the away team and Sid Leigh and Wally Bird scoring for the Pirates.

Rovers best ever victory and the biggest between the two clubs took place on 13 November 1982. Goals by David Williams, Ian Holloway, Timmy Parkin, Aiden McCaffery and Archie Stephens for Rovers and a single response by Mike Tait provided an emphatic 5-1 home win

Rovers have lost 5 of the last 6 games between the clubs and prior to last season’s win the last victory had been on 21 December 2013 when Ollie Clarke (40 mins) and David Clarkson (77 mins) saw Rovers secure a 2-0 win.

Last season on News Year’s Day this year Rovers ended a four-match winless run. Billy Bodin had an early shot saved for Rovers and fired wide from one of their better opportunities after 38 minutes, while at the other end Jamal Lowe had a shot deflected for a corner and goalkeeper Adam Smith denied Brett Pitman.

Portsmouth took a 64th-minute lead when Hawkins directed a header past Smith from an Adam May cross. The visitors looked in charge until Sinclair poached an 84th-minute equaliser, pouncing to net the rebound after Pompey goalkeeper Luke McGee had failed to hold on to a Bodin effort.

In the last minute of normal time Liam Sercombe netted with a low shot from 25 yards through a crowded penalty area after a free-kick had been played into the midfielder's path.

Ben Thompson, spoke of his loan from Millwall, “It’s been in the offing for a good few weeks. Last season in January I was going to come here but it didn’t work out. There were talks of a move in January but nothing was ever finalised.”

 “I stayed at Millwall and I don’t think it was the right time for the club to maybe let me go out on loan. Second time around, it has finally all worked out. All the stress is out of the way, I’m here, I’m playing and I just can’t wait to keep going.” 

“Hopefully I’ll play in all of the games and get three points every week! It’s a good opportunity for me to come down here, play football, get some minutes under my belt and enjoy my football again because I wasn't really at Millwall.”

 

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Match Reports

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 1-2 Portsmouth

21 August 2018

Ten-man Rovers punished by a late goal at the Mem.

Gareth Evans' goal midway through the first-half was cancelled out by Lines' penalty in the final forty-five minutes - but Rovers were forced to see out the final stages of the game a man short after goalscorer Lines was dismissed.

There was late drama to come in the game, as Ronan Curtis, who gave away the penalty for Rovers' goal, scored in the closing minutes to provide Portsmouth with the win.

In naming his side of the visit of Portsmouth, Manager Darrell Clarke included two changes to the side that took to the field against Wycombe on Saturday.

Daniel Leadbitter and Kyle Bennett were both recalled to the line-up, as Sam Matthews missed out and Tom Broadbent was named on the bench.

In what was a lively opening five-minute spell, Rovers sprung the first attack of the contest. It was former Portsmouth man, Kyle Bennett that instigated the move, with a smart turn in the centre of the park allowing space for the attacking playmaker to break into the final third - with his eventual pass towards Tom Nichols intercepted by Matt Clarke.

Portsmouth created chances of their own, as a deep cross from the right navigated its way to the unmarked Ronan Curtis, who stroked the ball towards goal only for his effort to be deflected clear by Tom Lockyer.

With the loud atmosphere ringing throughout the Mem, both sides were encouraged to break forward at every given opportunity. A flighted delivery from the right from Ben Thompson had a significant amount of curve that made it tricky to defend, but stretching inside the six-yard box, Tom Lockyer managed to edge the ball behind for a corner and away from Portsmouth's attacking threats.

With the twenty-minute mark passing, a slick spell of prolonged possession from Rovers instigated an attack. Tom Nichols combined with Kyle Bennett on the fringes of the area, with Nichols being tripped just outside the box. Ed Upson stood over the set-piece but enlisted a touch too much height on his free-kick and his effort climbed over the target. 

Upson's chance signalled a good series of opportunities for Rovers. Kyle Bennett again enjoyed the freedom to roam forward, before picking out the movement of Tom Nichols. The Portsmouth defence stretched, Nichols managed to chip a ball towards the unmarked Liam Sercombe, but with just the 'keeper to beat, the winger sliced his effort over the target.

Against the run of play, Portsmouth took the lead in the contest. A long-ball pumped forward by Craig MacGillivray was flicked on by both Curtis and Hawkins, with the combination of headers seeing the ball find Gareth Evans in the area. The Portsmouth captain waited for the ball to sit and rifled a powerful volley that left Adam Smith little chance to deny the visitors the opening goal. 

As the first-half progressed into the later stages, Rovers did create chances to restore balance to the scoreline. Kyle Bennett was again involved, this time laying off a pass to Sercombe to launch a shot towards goal, but the on this occasion Sercombe lifted his effort high.

There were more chances to come form Rovers - as Liam Sercombe took sight at goal from thirty-yards with a low-effort that required MacGillivray into making a save down low to push the attempt wide. In first-half stoppage time, Ed Upson recycled a corner from Rovers, directing a left-footed shot from eighteen-yards that looked like it may nestle into the bottom corner, but the effort was deflected away by Tom Naylor, as Portsmouth held onto their advantage into the interval.

Immediately after break, Rovers had to soak up a spell of pressure. A high ball into the Rovers area from a wide left position was well watched by Tom Lockyer, who made an important defensive header to relieve the pressure.

Rovers soon took turn to apply pressure themselves on the Portsmouth goal. A fine sweeping shot from Tom Nichols looked like it may curl into the far corner after the striker cut inside from a wide berth. The shot from Nichols sparked MacGilliviray into making a diving save, with the rebound falling to Liam Sercombe on the follow-up, but rushing his attempt, Sercombe poked the ball wide.

Nichols didn't have to wait long for another opportunity to present itself, as the striker dug out a path to goal from a narrow angle, with the well-struck attempt being tipped behind for a corner by MacGillivray, who couldn't guarantee that ball wouldn't creep inside at the near post. 

The series of chances lifted the volume inside the Mem - with Rovers attacking the goal in front of the vocal Thatcher's terrace. A smart ball out wide to Daniel Leadbitter crafted the chance for the right-back to pull back a disguised ball to the feet of Sercombe. Shifting his weight to make a first-time strike at the pass, Sercombe's effort was on target, but blocked by Ben Thompson, with numerous Rovers players appealing for a penalty for handball.

Rovers introduced a doubled change as the final quarter of the game approached - with Alex Jakubiak making his Rovers debut, as the striker was joined by Chris Lines from the bench.

After another promising spell in the game, Rovers did manage to score that all-important equaliser. The move for the goal originated as a corner from the right was handheld in the area by Ronan Curtis - with referee hesitating for a moment before pointing to spot to award the spot-kick. Chris Lines was tasked with taking the penalty and side-footed his attempt home from the spot to bring Rovers back level.

There was a mad moment yet to come, as less than two minutes after experiencing the euphoria of scoring, Lines was sent off for a rash challenge on Pitman, just yards outside the Rovers penalty area.

With a man disadvantage, Rovers still maintained an attacking threat. Substitute Alex Jakubiak formed a lone attack and with a free path to goal managed to force an effort that required a stop from MacGillivray.

There was further drama in the pipeline, as another ball forward by the Portsmouth 'keeper was flicked towards Curtis, who was at fault for the Rovers penalty. The winger held off a challenge and was able to lift a shot over the advancing Adam Smith, with numerous attempts to clear the ball on the line proving to be in vain, as Portsmouth grasped the goal in the closing five minutes. 

With time dwindling - there was still one last chance for Rovers to rescue a point. A Rovers corner caused carnage in the area, the ball eventually falling to Kyle Bennett. The winder provided an effort towards goal, only to be denied by an outstanding reaction save from MacGillivray.

Rovers XI: Adam Smith (GK), Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Lockyer (c), Tony Craig, James Clarke, Ollie Clarke, Ed Upson (68' Chris Lines), Liam Sercombe, Kyle Bennett, Tom Nichols (78' Tom Nichols), Stefan Payne (68' Alex Jakubiak).

Subs: Alexis Andre (GK), Tom Broadbent, Chris Lines, Alex Rodman, Bernard Mensah, Alex Jakubiak, Gavin Reilly.

Portsmouth XI: Craig MacGillivray (GK), Anton Walkes, Lee Brown, Matt Clarke, Tom Naylor, Oli Hawkins (75' Pitman), Jamal Lowe, Ronan Curtis, Jack Whatmough, Gareth Evans (c), Ben Thompson.

Subs: Luke McGee (GK), Christian Burgess, Brett Pitman, Conor Chaplin, David Wheeler, Ben Close, Brandon Haunstrup.

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Ticket News

Buy in Advance for Portsmouth!

20 August 2018

Fans are advised to purchase tickets in advance of next Tuesday's game against Portsmouth at the Mem, to avoid queues.

We are anticipating a busy evening at the Ticket Office and recommend purchasing ahead online; this is the easiest option.

You can also purchase tickets at the Mem from our Superstore.

If you do end up buying tickets on the day, we'd like to remind you to do this at the Ticket Office situated outside the ground between the North Terrace and West Stand.

We also advise getting to the ground early to avoid queueing for your ticket and would like to point out that we cannot accept cash on the turnstiles.

The Ticket Office will be open early, at 5pm for ticket collections in an attempt to reduce queues.

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