York City 0
Bristol Rovers 0
A gritty and determined performance saw Rovers take a point from this afternoon’s game against York City at Bootham Crescent.
Given that the three previous games between the clubs this season had served up 16 goals, it was ironic that this encounter ended goalless.
However the fact that they earned a point and kept a clean sheet was down to goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall and inspired performances from the entire back four.
Superior fitness levels were also a contributory factor.
Manager John Ward made two changes to his starting lineup, with Tom Lockyer and Mitch Harding coming into the side at the expense of Ollie Norburn and Ellis Harrison, who dropped to the bench.
The manager’s plans for training at Sheffield Wednesday yesterday were thwarted by the closure of two junctions of the M1 and, having left Bristol at 10.00am the squad finally arrived at their hotel in York at
5.10pm, having stopped for only three quarters of an hour on the way.
The manager, therefore, quickly arranged a brief warm up session on York racecourse this morning.
After a tentative opening the home side gradually took control and created a number of goalscoring opportunities, as well as forcing a succession of corners.
The first chance came from an eighth minute corner when Michael Coulson whipped the ball in only to see Ryan Bowman’s glancing header drift just over the crossbar.
Russ Penn then saw a shot deflected behind for another corner before Keith Lowe picked up on a Rovers clearance and volleyed just over from the edge of the area.
It took Rovers twenty minutes to fashion their first opportunity and when it came it was a hooked shot from Harding that drifted just wide of the upright.
Just before the half hour mark Mildenhall came to the rescue for Rovers as he dived low to his left to push away a ferocious drive from Penn.
A weak Michael Smith shot at the other end afforded Nick Pope a comfortable save, before Rovers managed to get the ball into the net after an incisive counter attack.
Harding played in Smith and his cross saw John-Joe O’Toole score from close range. However Rovers’ top scorer was adjudged to be in an offside position and his effort was chalked off.
As Rovers came back into the game, Pope saved from Matt Harrold before the striker went close to giving his side the lead.
A pinpoint cross from the right from Tom Lockyer saw Harrold first to the ball, and his powerful header came back into play off the post.
Mildenhall prevented a certain York goal with a minute of the half remaining, making an outstanding reaction save to deny Josh Carson. The keeper parried the shot away as far as Bowman and his shot was blocked by Mark McChrystal.
The half ended with another chance for the home side, but Wes Fletcher’s effort was well wide of the target.
Mildenhall safely gathered Coulson’s drilled a free kick early in the second half, and the keeper saved another shot from Josh Carson at the second attempt.
At the other end Pope spilt a cross in the area and the loose ball reached O’Toole whose on target effort was blocked by the keeper.
Meanwhile the overworked Mildenhall, denied Keith Lowe a goal when he touched his header over the bar.
There was a flurry of activity at the other end, though, and Harding hit a cross shot wide of the target while O’Toole headed straight into the arms of Pope.
Mildenhall saved a powerful volley from Carson before the end, but Ward’s side held out for a point.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Eliot Richards, Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke, John-Joe O’Toole, Matt Harrold (Chris Beardsley, 60), Mitch Harding (Danny Woodards, 80).
Substitutes: David Clarkson, Ollie Norburn, Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Pat Keary
Yellow Cards: Lockyer, Harrold
York City: Nick Pope, Lanre Oyebanjo, David McGurk, Keith Lowe, Ben Davies, Josh Carson, Lewis Montrose, Russ Penn (Adam Reed, 80), Michael Coulson, Wes Fletcher, Ryan Bowman (Ryan Jarvis, 87)
Substitutes: Chris Smith, John McCombe, Tom Platt, Michael Ingham, Chris Dickinson
Away Attendance: 221