Rovers lose at Accrington
Accrington Stanley 2
Gray (18), Naismith (29)
Rovers returned home empty handed following a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Accrington Stanley tonight.
Having taken a fifth minute lead through Alex Henshall, they conceded twice before the half hour mark and seldom threatened the home goal in the second period, apart from an Eliot Richards effort that clipped the bar.
There was no faulting the effort and commitment of John Ward’s side, but the necessary quality was lacking and instead of building on their early lead they were forced back by a side that went on to claim their
first three point haul of the campaign.
Manager Ward made one enforced change to his starting lineup, with Henshall coming into the side for his first start, replacing the suspended David Clarkson.
Rovers began brightly and after a Henshall shot was blocked by Dean Winnard and Will Packwood had headed over they took a fifth minute lead.
It was a little fortuitous, as a cross from Henshall was fumbled into the net by home goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
Rovers continued to press after that early breakthrough and Henshall saw another effort deflected into the side netting and Tom Parkes headed over from the resulting corner.
However Accrington levelled the score, out of the blue, on 18 minutes when Peter Murphy threaded the ball through to James Gray who had time and space to pick his spot and beat Mildenhall with a low shot to the keeper’s left.
That was the turning point of the half and all of a sudden the home team were in the ascendancy. Kal Naismith fired over, Mildenhall touched another effort from Gray over the bar and a second goal arrived.
Naismith was the scorer on this occasion, breaking into the area before firing past Mildenhall.
Henshall did see another effort saved by Bettinelli, but the half finished with the home side on top and Aldred heading into the side netting, Naismith hitting a shot over the bar and an effort from Danny Webber being saved by Mildenhall.
Seanan Clucas headed straight at keeper Bettinelli early in the second half and Ellis Harrison fired over when well placed, but they were only token efforts as the home side were firmly in control of proceedings.
Mildenhall did well to keep Danny Webber’s effort out with his legs and the keeper was again called into action to touch a free kick from Lee Naylor over the bar.
Tom Lockyer did get forward to fire a hot towards goal that was deflected behind for a corner and an Alefe Santos shot was comfortably saved by Bettinelli.
However the best was saved until last when, five minutes from time, Richards set off on a mazy run that carried him to the edge of the area. His shot at the end of it was a good one, but clipped the crossbar and fell behind.
There were no further chances and the home side comfortably held out to record their first victory of the season.
Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Will Packwood, Tom Lockyer, Seanan Clucas, John-Joe O’Toole, Ollie Clarke (Alefe Santos, 61), Alex Henshall (Eliot Richards, 69), Ryan Brunt, Ellis Harrison
Substitutes: Ollie Norburn, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Pat Keary, Josh Southway
Yellow Cards: Henshall, Harrison, Brunt
Accrington Stanley: Peter Murphy, Nicky Hut, Dean Winnard, Tom Aldred, Lee Naylor, Kal Naismith, Luke Joyce, Peter Murphy, Piero Mingoia (Michael Richardson, 90), James Gray (Marcus Carver, 86) Danny Webber (Will Hatfield, 79),
Substitutes: Ian Dunbavin, Josh Windass, Shay McCartan, George Bowerman
Yellow Card: Aldred
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Rovers supporters: 172