Much improved performance earns an away point
Mansfield Town 1
Bristol Rovers 1
Rovers returned from Mansfield with a well-deserved point, and disappointed it wasn’t three as they outplayed and out passed their opponents for most of the game.
Lee Stevenson’s goal, from Mansfield’s only quality first half attack, separated the sides at the break.
Relentless second half pressure from John Ward’s side finally paid off after 83 minutes when a shot from Alefe Santos was deflected past home keeper Alan Marriott by the outstretched leg of defender Keiran Murtagh.
Deflection or not, it didn’t stop Santos celebrating wildly in front of the travelling Rovers supporters.
Ward made two changes to his starting lineup, as Ollie Clarke and David Clarkson returned to the starting in place of Mark McChrystal and Seanan Clucas.
Rovers started brightly and Lee Brown went close in the early stages but his low effort was saved by Marriott at his near post.
Clarke saw his left foot volley blocked on the edge of the area and Ryan Brunt saw his left foot effort drift just wide of the upright.
At the other end Sam Clucas hit a shot wide of the mark, but Rovers were soon on the attack again and Clarkson, whose movement was causing the home defence problems, saw a rocket of an angled drift inches wide of the upright.
The home side hit back and Stevenson and Calvin Andrew both went close before the two of them combined for the opening goal.
Andrew got down the right and skipped past the injured Le Brown before crossing into the box where Stevenson nipped in between the two central defenders to head past Steve Mildenhall.
Brown left the field to be replaced by Pat Keary but Rovers continued to take the game to their hosts. Clarke hit a shot straight at Marriott, and the keeper saved two more efforts from Clarkson.
Michael Smith was inches away from an equaliser, but just couldn’t get a touch on a delightful ball played into him by Clarkson and the half ended with Keary heading wide from Ollie Norburn’s corner.
Ward’s side took the game to their hosts from the start of the second half and it was almost one way traffic towards Marriott’s goal.
Clarke fired wide from Andy Bond’s cross early on and Marriott held on to John-Joe O’Toole’s long range effort.
Clarke hit another effort just wide of the target, while Marriott made a comfortable save from Eliot Richards.
The home side’s best, and only, chance of the second period arrived with 67 minutes on the clock. Substitute Matt Rhead met a corner from the right and directed a powerful header towards goal. However
Mildenhall made an outstanding block with his chest and Rovers resumed the task of getting back in the game.
Their pressure paid off seven minutes from time with that deflected effort from Santos and although Mansfield did exert a little bit of pressure in the closing stages, it was nothing that Rovers couldn’t cope with.
Team: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Tom Lockyer, Lee Brown (Pat Keary, 23) Ollie Norburn (Eliot Richards, 57), John-Joe O’Toole, Ollie Clarke, Andy Bond (Alefe Santos, 72), David Clarkson, Ryan Brunt
Substitutes: Matt Gill, Conor Gough, Jordan Goddard, Josh Southway
Mansfield Town: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempsey, Martin Riley, Lee Beevers, Sam Clucas, Lee Stevenson (Lindon Meikle, 72), Colin Daniel (Ollie Palmer, 87), Keiran Murtagh, Anthony Howell, Calvin Andrew (Matt Rhead, 60)
Substitutes: James Jennings, Ben Hutchinson, Godfrey Poku, Liam Mitchell
Referee: Scott Duncan
Rovers Supporters: 432