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25 February 2014

Gillespie's first goal earns Rovers a draw

Scunthorpe United 1
Winnall (22)

Bristol Rovers 1
Gillespie (88)

A disciplined and hard working performance saw Rovers gain a well deserved point against Scunthorpe United this evening.

Steven Gillespie’s goal three minutes from time earned John Ward’s side a share of the spoils after the home side had taken a first half lead through Sam Winnall.

Ward named an unchanged side for this game in what was their first visit to Glanford Park for five years.

That meant former Scunthorpe players Steve Mildenhall and Mark McChrystal faced their former club for the first time since leaving The Iron.

Ward also had the rare luxury of naming an unchanged bench.

The home side were out of the blocks quickly and a first minute snap shot was comfortably fielded by Steve Mildenhall.

The keeper was in action again five minutes later and he did exceptionally well to keep out a shot from Niall Canavan. The Scunthorpe player met a corner from the right and his header looked to be heading into 
the net before Midenhall intervened and touched the ball behind.

When Rovers hit back David Clarkson saw a shot blocked by a packed home defence and then Kaid Mohamed raced forward before firing a low shot just wide of the upright.

Another Clarkson effort was saved by home goalkeeper Sam Slocombe, Alan Gow’s effort was blocked by a home defender, as was a Lee Brown shot shortly afterwards.

However the opening goal came from the home side on 22 minutes. When Gary McSheffery whipped in a cross from the left, it was met by the unmarked Sam Winnall who directed his header beyond Mildenhall and into the net.

That seemed to knock the wind out of Rovers’ sails, but they regrouped and Gow hit a shot wide of the target, while Madden did exactly the same at the other end.

Rovers were again indebted to Mildenhall who made a superb save from Eddie Nolan before the half ended, when he dived to his left to beat away the shot.

The half ended with a Rovers counter attack which ended when Gow went down under a challenge and, much to the consternation of the Rovers management team and supporters, the on loan midfielder was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious leg injury and was replaced by Gillespie.

Rovers made another substitution at the start of the second half, sending on Ollie Clarke in place of Tom Lockyer, who sustained a broken nose in a first half challenge.

The home side immediately set about trying to add to their lead and Gary McSheffrey volleyed over the bar shortly after the restart. Madden then tried an optimistic long range effort over the bar.

Clarke soon made an impression when he drove a low, left foot shot just wide of the upright before Rovers almost got back on level terms.

Gillespie’s ball in from the right found Clarkson, whose shot was touched behind by Slocombe and from the resulting corner Kaid Mohamed headed over the bar.

However there was a let off for Ward’s side on 67 minutes when a header from David Syers came back into play off the bar. The same player headed the rebound back towards goal only to see this effort headed off the line by Tom Parkes

Rovers continued to probe for an equaliser, and Gillespie fired over when well placed, while Clarkson hit a shot just over the bar.

Syers saw another effort blocked and Madden hit a rasping volley just wide of the target.

Another effort from Madden was blocked and that set up a Rovers counter attack. The ball reached Mohamed, who set the overlapping Smith away down the right and his cross into the area was knocked home by 
Gillespie for his first goal since arriving at the Memorial Stadium.

There were still chances as the game ran into stoppage time. Beardsley hit an angled drive over the bar at one end, while Madden hit an angled drive over at the other.

The final action in the game saw the impressive McSheffrey hit a free kick on to the roof of the stand, much to the disgust of the home supporters, many of whom left the ground at that point without waiting for the final whistle.

Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer (Ollie Clarke, 46), Kaid Mohamed, John-Joe O’Toole, Alan Gow (Steven Gillespie, 45), David Clarkson 
(Seanan Clucas, 83), Chris Beardsley.

Substitutes: Danny Woodards, Ellis Harrison, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough

Yellow Card: McChrystal

Scunthorpe United: Sam Slocombe, Eddie Nolan, David Mirfin, Niall Canavan, Marcus Williams, Sean McAllister, Hakeeb Adelukan (Matt Sparrow, 86), David Syers, Gary McSheffry, Sam Winnall (Paul Hayes, 69), Paddy Madden

Substitutes: Christian Ribeiro, Andy Dawson, James Severn, Terry Hawkridge, Luke Waterfall

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 3,318

Rovers Supporters: 136

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