Rovers have to settle for a point at Torquay
Torquay United 1
Marquis (pen, 6)
Bristol Rovers 1
Rovers returned home from Torquay with a point safely secured but, on the evidence of their first half performance alone, they will be disappointed it wasn’t all three.
Trailing to a controversial sixth minute penalty, they hit back through Matt Harrold’s 27th minute goal and dominated the opening 45 minutes.
They were unable to convert their superiority into goals, though, and almost conceded near the end when the home side hit the upright.
Manager John Ward enjoyed the luxury of naming an unchanged side for this afternoon’s match.
On the bench there was a return for Jim Paterson, who has been missing from the side all season following the injury he picked up at Hereford in pre-season.
The home side took a sixth minute lead when they were awarded a penalty after referee Philip Gibbs ruled that a Rovers player had handled Billy Bodin’s free kick on its way through to Steve Mildenhall.
John Marquis duly despatched the spot kick and that was almost the last we saw of Torquay as an attacking force in the opening period as Rovers took the game to their hosts.
Matt Harrold saw a close range header comfortably saved by Michael Poke and the former Rovers loanee then saved a Michael Smith effort with his legs.
As Rovers kept up the pressure, David Clarkson saw his free kick blocked by Torquay’s defensive wall and Smith sent an effort over the bar after running on to Ollie Norburn’s crossfield ball.
Eliot Richards hit a shot into the side netting, Mark McChrystal headed straight at Poke while the keeper saved another effort with his legs, this time from Richards.
The equaliser that Rovers richly deserved came with 27 minutes on the clock when Harrold was on hand to bundle the ball over the line from Lee Brown’s corner on the right.
Jordan Chappell saw a shot blocked at the other end in a rare Torquay attack and he saw another effort blocked before Norburn volleyed over the crossbar after Harrold had chested the ball into his path.
Richards saw another effort blocked while Bodin dragged a shot well wide of the target before the half time whistle.
There were further chances for Ward’s side in the opening minutes of the second half.
John-Joe O’Toole saw a shot deflected behind for a corner, Tom Parkes fired well wide of the target and Smith hit a shot over the bar.
The home side might have scored with 66 minutes on the clock but the unmarked Marquis headed wide from six yards when meeting a cross from the right.
Rovers were soon on the attack again and O’Toole saw a shot blocked and when the rebound fell to Ollie Clarke he fired wide of goal.
Steve Mildenhall saved from Bodin, who trued his luck from 25 yards and then Damien Mozika hit the post with a near post header.
The game ended with Rovers pressing again and Harrold sent a header wide, and a low drive from Richards met the same fate.
The final chance of the game fell to the excellent Smith, who got forward yet again and hit a shot just over the bar.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, David Clarkson (Alefe Santos, 86),, Ollie Norburn, Ollie Clarke, John-Joe O’Toole, Eliot Richards (Ellis Harrison, 90), Matt Harrold.
Substitutes: Jim Paterson, Mitch Harding, Chris Beardsley, Conor Gough, Tom Lockyer
Torquay United: Michael Poke, Dale Tonge, Anthony O’Connor, Aaron Downes, Thomas Cruise, Jak McCourt (Nathan Craig, 88), Lee Mansell, Damien Mozika, Jordan Chapell (Jayden Stockley, 81), John Marquis, Billy Bodin
Substitutes: Krystian Pearce, Martin Rice, Elliot Benyon, Daniel Sullivan
Yellow cards: Tonge, Mansell, McCourt
Referee: Philip Gibbs
Rovers Supporters: 776