Akinde (22), MacDonald (43)
Bristol Rovers 0
Referee: Robert Whitton
Rovers are still looking for their first Vanarama Conference win, and their first goal of the new season, after tonight’s defeat at the hands of Barnet.
First half goals from John Akinde and Charlie MacDonald gave the hosts a half time cushion and although Rovers’ performance improved after the break they were unable to pull even a goal back in spite of
creating a number of opportunities.
Rovers boss Darrell Clarke had to make one enforced change to his starting lineup tonight and he will be missing Steve Mildenhall in goal as his mother is seriously ill and in hospital.
In goal, and making his debut was Will Puddy, who only signed yesterday, as cover for Kieran Preston who is away on international duty with the Scotland U-19 squad.
The manager made three other changes and Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Parkes and Ryan Brunt were all missing from the starting lineup.
Darrell started the game with a 4-4-2 formation, with Tom Lockyer slotting in at right back.
Jake Gosling and Jamie White made their first starts in a Rovers shirt as did central defender Neal Trotman.
Rovers forced an early corner but were soon under pressure at the other end with Barnet’s front line being led by former Rovers loanee John Akinde.
However there was little to choose between the sides in the opening 15 minutes.
A free kick by Lee Cook was high and wide and Puddy saved well from Akinde before the striker gave his side a 22nd minute lead.
Racing on to a long ball out of defence, he got in behind Rovers’ back line before calmly drilling the ball under Puddy.
Mark McChrystal then blocked a goalbound effort from Andy Yiadom before Rovers clawed themselves back into the game and created chances of their own
An Andy Monkhouse on target effort was blocked by a packed home defence and when the rebound reached White his angled drive just cleared the bar.
Lee Mansell then saw his 25 yard drive saved by Graham Stack and the keeper was alert again moments later as he held on to another effort from the midfielder.
At the other end Akinde had another effort blocked before his side doubled their advantage with 43 minutes on the clock.
A low drive from Mauro Vilhete saw Puddy dive to save but he couldn’t hold the effort and the ball squirmed away from him into the path of MacDonald who was able to roll the ball into an unguarded net from 10 yards.
Rovers made a substitution and changed formation at the start of the second half.
Tom Parkes replaced Trotman and the switch was from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. The change appeared to benefit the side and Stack had to make three saves in the opening five minutes of the half.
The first saw him dive low to his right to touch a Matty Taylor effort away from goal, the second was a shot straight at him from Lee Brown and the third a routine stop from a Mansell header.
Seven minutes in Rovers lost Tom Lockyer who appeared to suffer a blow to the face by a stray arm. The young defender will certainly require dental treatment as a result of the injury and may well be a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Altrincham.
Daniel Leadbitter was the man to replace Lockyer and after a long range effort from Parkes flew over the bar the young defender saw his looping header also fly over.
Taylor header produced a routine saver from Stack before Akinde went close with a curling shot that was just over.
Brown then cleared a header from David Stephens off the line before a late flurry from Rovers almost produced a goal.
Crosses from Monkhouse and Ryan Brunt flew across the face of goal, with no one getting a final touch while a Brown free kick cleared the bar.
However a poor first half, in which they were out muscled by a very physical home side, cost Rovers any chance of rescuing something from the game.
There was an improvement after the break, but were just unable to get the breaks in front of goal.
Bristol Rovers: Will Puddy, Tom Lockyer (Daniel Leadbitter, 53), Mark McChrystal, Neal Trotman (Tom Parkes, 46), Lee Brown, Jake Gosling (Ryan Brunt, 65), Stuart Sinclair, Andy Monkhouse, Lee Mansell, Matty Taylor, Jamie White
Substitutes: Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harrison
Barnet: Graham Stack, Elliot Johnson, Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom, Mauro Vilhete, Curtis Weston, Sam Togwell, Lee Cook, John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (Jon Nurse, 90)
Substitutes: Jack Saville, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Luisma Villa, Sam Muggleton