Much improved performance, but Rovers lose by the odd goal in three
Hope (3), Soares (80)
Bristol Rovers 1
Manager Darrell Clarke made three changes to his side for tonight’s game and went with a 3-5-2 formation.
Matt Harrold, Tom Parkes and John-Joe O’Toole came back into the side while Chris Beardsley was ruled out with a knee injury while Alefe Santos and David Clarkson were on the bench.
Mark McChrystal, one of three central defenders, retained the captaincy even though Parkes returned to the side. Michael Smith and Lee Brown were the wing backs, O’Toole played just in front of Tom Lockyer and Ollie Clarke, while Harrold and Kaid Mohamed were up front.
Rovers got off to the worst possible start, conceding after only three minutes.
After a bout of head tennis when neither side seemed able to get the ball down and under control it eventually fell to Hallam Hope, who hit a first time volley past Steve Mildenhall from just inside the area.
It took a while for Rovers to regain their composure, but when they did Smith got forward and saw his shot blocked by Jim McNulty.
Harrold also had a shot blocked, by Pablo Mills, before the central defender went up for a corner and directed a powerful header into the arms of a grateful Mildenhall.
Andrew Tutte fired a shot wide of the mark, and Chris Hussey hit another effort over the bar before Rovers threatened again.
This time a powerful run from Tom Lockyer ended with his shot being deflected behind for a corner.
As the half drew to a close, there was almost an equaliser for Darrell Clarke’s side.
Smith’s low cross found O’Toole and his close range effort was saved by Brian Jensen with his legs. The rebound fell to Mohamed, whose shot just cleared the bar.
However deep into stoppage time they did get back on level terms. Ollie Clarke’s shot from just outside the area took a deflection and totally wrong footed Jensen before nestling in the back of the net.
From the way he celebrated it looked as though Mohamed might have got the final touch, though we were no further to clarifying matters after the game, with Clarke still claiming it was his goal.
There was still time for Rovers to create another chance and Harrold’s header from Brown’s cross looked destined for the bottom corner of the net but somehow Jensen got a hand to the ball to keep it out.
Harrold was so amazed that he congratulated the keeper on a magnificent stop.
Rovers began the second half where they had left off at the end of the first.
Harrold headed straight at Jensen, and Smith hit a shot straight at the keeper.
Brown joined in and had almost too much time to get a shot away. His drive was going wide of the target and hit Harrold before falling behind.
Rovers were so much on top for the first 20 minutes of the second half that the home side were jeered by their own supporters, but they gradually clawed their way back into the game.
Danny Nardiello went close on two occasions before the home side scored what proved to be the winning goal with ten minutes remaining.
A corner from the right was met at the near post by substitute Tom Soares and he glanced a header past Mildenhall with his first touch of the ball.
Rovers continued to create chances and Mohamed fired a free kick straight at Jensen, Alefe Santos dragged a shot wide of the upright and Mohamed headed just wide.
In spite of their efforts, though, Rovers could find no way through and returned home empty handed.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Danny Woodards (Seanan Clucas, 46), Tom Parkes (Alefe Santos, 82), Mark McChrystal, Michael Smith, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke (Steven Gillespie, 85), John-Joe O’Toole, Matt Harrold, Kaid Mohamed
Substitutes: David Clarkson, Ellis Harrison, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough
Bury: Brian Jensen, Frederic Veseli, Pablo Mills, Jim McNulty, Chris Hussey, Chris Sedgwick, Craig Jones (Danny Rose, 71), Danny Mayor, Andrew Tutte (Tom Soares,78) Danny Nardiello, Hallam Hope (Andy Proctor, 81)
Substitutes: Richard Hinds, Clive Platt, Reice Charles-Cook, Temitope Obadeyi
Referee: Michael Naylor
Rovers fans: 179