Clarkson and Richards on target
Aldershot Town 2
Hector (33), Reid (pen, 75)
Bristol Rovers 2
Clarkson (pen, 54), Richards (87)
It wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory, but the point gained by Rovers at Aldershot this afternoon could well be a turning point in the fortunes of the club.
Trailing at the break, Rovers equalised in the second half thanks to a David Clarkson penalty before falling behind again when the home side also scored from the penalty spot.
Then, with just three minutes remaining, the luck that has deserted them all season returned with interest as a shot from Eliot Richards was deflected past home goalkeeper Jamie Youngs.
It may not have been pretty, but the character and determination that has also been lacking of late was very much in evidence today.
In addition, the return of Cian Bolger was a big plus as the on loan Leicester defender strengthened a back line that has looked fragile in recent games.
John Ward’s first team selection showed three changes from the side that started the ill-fated game against York City ten days ago.
Cian Bolger returned, as did Michael Smith and Seanan Clucas, in place of Guy Branston, Danny Woodards and Matt Lund respectively.
The game kicked off at the appointed time only after a lengthy inspection, by the match officials, of one of the goal areas following a heavy rainstorm.
The wet surface appeared to cause problems for both sides and there was little in the way of goalmouth action in the early stages.
However Aldershot could have taken a ninth minutes lead when a ball into the box found Michael Hector who managed to direct a close range header over the bar.
At the other end a cross/shot from David Clarkson drifted wide of the target and Joe Anyinsah almost got a shot away when the ball was played into the box, but slipped at the vital moment.
Sonny Bradley hit a wild shot well wide of Sam Walker’s goal, and Kieron Cadogan hit a free kick wide of goal.
Tom Eaves, playing the lone striker role for Rovers, set up Michael Smith for a cross after a good run down the right and although the defender hit a decent ball to the back post, no one could take advantage and the danger was cleared by the home side.
The one quality moment of the half arrived on 33 minutes, though unfortunately it was produced by Aldershot.
There appeared to be no danger when the ball was played into Hector, some 18 yards from goal, but the midfielder looked up before curling a delightful right foot shot into the corner of the net beyond Sam Walker’s despairing dive.
The second half was just nine minutes old when the equaliser arrived. Bolger found Fabian Broghammer with a crossfield ball and as the midfielder burst into the area he was brought down by Aaron Morris.
The resulting penalty saw Clarkson rifle the ball straight down the middle for his seventh goal of the season.
Aldershot might have regained the league shortly afterwards when Danny Hylton dispossessed Garry Kenneth but fired a shot into the side netting when well placed.
They did go in front again on 75 minutes with a penalty of their own. Kenneth was adjudged to have brought down Bradley and substitute Craig Reid sent Walker the wrong way with his spot kick.
The arrival of Eliot Richards, in the 80th minute, saw Ward switch to a 4-4-2 formation and it paid off as the young striker scored a precious equaliser with just three minutes remaining. He evaded two challenges on the edge of the area before hitting a left foot shot towards goal. It took a wicked deflection off Bradley, and rolled into the net as a stranded Youngs could only look on in despair.
The point came at a cost, as both Jim Paterson and Clarkson limped out of the game. Paterson has a tight hamstring and may well be fit for
Saturday’s game at Cheltenham, while Clarkson is a doubt after injuring an ankle.
Rovers: Sam Walker, Michael Smith, Garry Kenneth, Cian Bolger, Jim Paterson (Lee Brown, 18), Joe Anyinsah, Seanan Clucas (Eliot Richards, 80), David Clarkson (Oliver Norburn, 71), Tom Parkes, Fabian Broghammer, Tom Eaves
Substitutes: Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Ellis Harrison, Alefe Santos.
Yellow Card: Kenneth
Aldershot Town: Jamie Young, Aaron Harris, Troy Brown, Sonny Bradley, Anthony Tonkin, Kieron Cadogan (Adam Mekki, 71), Danny Rose, Michael Hector, Peter Vincenti (Doug Bergqvist, 85), Dani Lopez, Danny Hylton (Craig Reid, 71)
Substitutes: Guy Madjo, Glen Morris, Jordan Roberts, Bobby Webbe
Referee: Lee Collins
Rovers supporters: 480