Rovers 1-2 Sheffield UnitedRovers 1-2 Sheffield United
Bristol Rovers were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United this afternoon, losing 2-1.
There was no cup upset at the Memorial Stadium, despite a fantastic first half performance from Rovers.
Dave Clarkson opened the scoring on five minutes with a brilliant solo effort, and Rovers managed to take their 1-0 lead into half time.
United were back in the game shortly after the restart when Nick Blackman slotted home the equaliser, and within minutes the Blades were in front thanks to Chris Porter.
Although Rovers’ involvement in all cup competition is now over for another year, the side can take a number of positives from their performance today, especially in that opening period where they managed to keep United very quiet.
Mark McGhee made four changes to the side that lost to Accrington last weekend. One of those changes was forced as Neil Etheridge was prevented from playing in the game by his parent club Fulham. He was replaced between the sticks by Sam Walker.
Michael Smith returned to the side to play in a five man defence, with Seanan Clucas coming into the team to replace Oli Norburn. Wayne Brown also dropped to the bench.
Derek Riordan was preferred to Eliot Richards, and he started the game out on the left, with Fabian Broghammer wide right.
Sheffield United went into the game unbeaten but were soon stunned by Rovers, who opened the scoring after just five minutes.
Dave Clarkson, playing in the central midfield role won the ball and managed to dribble past a number of players before firing home from the edge of the penalty area.
The goal seemed to give the crowd and the team confidence and Rovers went on to dominate the first half of the game.
Moments after Clarkson found the net Lee Brown fired a ball across the face of goal, but unfortunately there was no one there to turn it into the net.
Derek Riordan then had two chances to double Rovers lead, but both shots from just outside the area went wide of the upright.
Sheffield United saw an effort hit the bar, but Shaun Miller was subsequently booked for handling the ball in the area.
Tony McMahon had an effort for United as the half drew to a close, but Rovers made it to half time with their lead still intact.
But after the break United soon found themselves back into the game thanks to Blackman. Chris Porter played the ball into the Blades top goalscorer who ran through on goal and fired home into the top corner of the net.
And minutes later the provider turned scorer from a short corner. The ball was headed down into the box and Porter was given space to fire home from close range.
Garry Kenneth had a wild effort from 35 yards out that didn’t trouble Long in the visitor’s goal.
Porter then had another effort for United, but it was blocked by Lee Brown.
Mark McGhee then made a triple substitution to try and get his side back into the game. Wayne Brown, Oli Norburn and Eliot Richards came on to replace Broghammer, Tom Eaves and Seanan Clucas.
Rovers pushed hard to get an equaliser in the last ten minutes, but the visitors stopped them from creating any clear cut chances.
The Gas now go into Tuesday night’s home game against Southend hoping they can reproduce the form they showed in the first half of today’s game.
Rovers: Sam Walker, Michael Smith, Jim Paterson, Garry Kenneth, Lee Brown, Seanan Clucas (Wayne Brown 75), David Clarkson, Matt Lund, Fabian Broghammer ( Eliot Richards 75), Tom Eaves (Oli Norburn 75), Derek Riordan.
Unused: Conor Gough, Ollie Clarke, Tom Lockyer, Shaquille Hunter.
Sheffield United: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Porter (Cresswell 78), Blackman (Williams 71), McDonald, Miller, Collins, McMahon.
Unused: Westlake, McAllister, Cofie, Ironside, Willis.