Cheltenham Town 0
Bristol Rovers 0
A gritty and determined performance saw Rovers take a deserved point from their game against Cheltenham this evening.
A draw was probably a fair result, though both sides might feel they could have won it.
The only time the ball ended up in the back of the net the goal was chalked off for offside, much to the dismay of goalscorer Lee Brown.
There were a number of positives to take from this performance and everyone played their part, from back to front.
The important thing is that Rovers build on this point on Saturday when they take on AFC Wimbledon at the Memorial Stadium.
Manager John Ward had to make three changes to his side Ollie Norburn and Matt Harrold replaced the suspended John-Joe O’Toole and Chris Beardsley, while Mitch Harding returned at the expense of Ollie Clarke, who is suffering from a tight hamstring.
The manager was only able to name five substitutes tonight and they included goalkeeper Conor Gough and non-contract player Jake Green.
The home side began brightly and with purpose and Steve Mildenhall had to be at his best after only four minutes.
The keeper did very well to beat away a close range effort from Jamie Cureton and then watched as Steve Elliott blasted over from the home side’s first corner of the evening.
Sam Deering then tried to lob the goalkeeper when played in from the back, but the keeper was equal to the challenge and safely gathered.
As Rovers settled, David Clarkson hit a shot well wide of the target and goalkeeper Scott Brown safely held on to a Mitch Harding back header.
Another Harding effort took a deflection off of Elliott on its way through to the keeper, while at the other end a Terry Gornell effort was deflected through to Mildenhall.
Rovers’ best opportunity of the half came just after the half hour mark when Eliot Richards found the overlapping Lee Brown down the left.
The defender struck a fierce angled drive towards goal but his namesake in the Cheltenham goal beat the ball away for a corner.
Will Packwood picked up on the headed clearance from that set piece and saw his shot blocked by a packed defence.
The on loan defender was in action at the other end shortly afterwards, when he did well to block another effort from Cureton.
The home side might have taken a 38th minute lead when the unmarked Sido Jombati met a cross at the back post but contrived to skew his shot well wide of the mark.
Cureton fired another shot straight at Mildenhall as the half drew to a close but there was still time for another Cheltenham chance when a slip by Tom Parkes let the former Rovers striker in but he also missed his kick and the chance went begging.
Brown shot well wide early in the second half, but shortly afterwards he had the ball in the net only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
As Rovers began to assert themselves on the game, Richards shot wide and Brown headed wide from Michael Smith’s cross.
There was another chance just after the hour mark when Ollie Norburn’s free kick was blocked and when the loose ball fell to David Clarkson he blazed a shot over the bar.
The home side’s response came from Cureton, whose shot on the turn was blocked, while substitute Byron Harrison saw his shot well saved by Mildenhall.
Cureton hit two more efforts wide before Elliott, under pressure from the outstanding Matt Harrold, headed wide of his own goal.
With the clock running down Smith turned his marker and bore down on the home goal before unleashing a fierce angled drive which Brown saved well at his near post.
Both sides were still looking for a goal in the closing stages, with the final shot of the game falling to Tom Lockyer who hit a shot straight at Brown.
Team: Steve Mildenhall, Michael, Tom Parkes, Will Packwood, Lee Brown, David Clarkson, Ollie Norburn, Eliot Richards (Ellis Harrison, 90), Tom Lockyer, Mitch Harding, Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Conor Gough, Jake Green, Josh Southway, Pat Keary
Cheltenham Town: Scott Brown, Jason Taylor (Scott McGlashan, 58), Troy Brown, Steve Elliott, Jamie Cureton, Sam Deering (Zack Kotwica, 80), Terry Gornell (Byron Harrison, 60), Matt Richards, Sido Jombati, Craig Braham-Barrett, David Noble
Substitutes: Connor Roberts, Russell Penn, Joe Hanks, Ashley Vincent
Referee: David Coote Cheltenham Town
Rovers Fans: 1,184