Rovers 0-0 Southend
By Steve Hood
Bristol Rovers and Southend United played out a goalless draw under the floodlights at the Memorial Stadium.
John Ward made four changes to the side that went down 4-0 to Hartlepool last weekend recalling Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke, Chris Beardsley to the starting 11. Steven Gillespie made his first start for Bristol Rovers.
Danny Woodards, David Clarkson, Seanan Clucas and Matt Harrold dropped to the Rovers bench following the heavy defeat at Victoria Park.
The visitors started the brighter of the two sides having significant spells in the Rovers half. Shrimpers captain John White skipped passed Steven Gillespie down the right hand side and drove a ball across the six-yard box before Tom Parkes cleared for the home side.
Rovers’ first chance of the game came swiftly after, as Parkes found himself in action at the other end of the field.
A free kick on the edge of the United area was played wide to the left hand side and Steven Gillespie whipped in the ball right footed. Parkes leapt highest but couldn’t hit the target.
Chances were then at a premium for both sides in the first half as Ryan Leonard dragged a 30-yard shot wide of Steve Mildenhall’s goal in the visitor’s best chance of the half.
The home side then piled on the pressure in search of that all-important first goal and earned themselves their first corner of the game.
Lee Brown delivered a pinpoint ball to the head of O’Toole, but a superb reaction save from Daniel Bentley denied him his 16th goal of the season.
Rovers started the second half brightly as Ollie Clarke saw his powerful volley hit the ground before Bentley in the Shrimpers goal comfortably gathered.
The visitors were restricted to long-range efforts as Michael Timlin stung the palms for Steve Mildenhall from 30-yards.
Ward brought on Alefe Santos to liven things up and his quick feet caused Southend a few troubles down the right hand side.
Santos passed the ball to Smith who swung the ball into the box directed at O’Toole. The Rovers man jumped highest but could only direct his header straight at Daniel Bentley.
Southend substitute Jamar Loza missed the best chance of the second half with just five minutes of the game remaining.
Will Atkinson’s cross into the area missed everyone but Lee Barnard was able to latch onto the ball on the right hand side. Barnard then delivered the ball back into the area but Loza headed the ball over the bar from just four yards out.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Kaid Mohamed (Matt Harrold), Tom Lockyer. Ollie Clarke, John-Joe O’Toole (David Clarkson), Chris Beardsley, Steven Gillespie (Alefe Santos)
Substitutes: Danny Woodards, David Clarkson, Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Seanan Clucas
Southend: Daniel Bentley, John White, Ben Coker, Freddie Eastwood (Jamar Loza), Michael Timlin, Will Atkinson (Anthony Straker), Kevan Hurst, Ryan Leonard, John Egan, Jakub Sokolik, Lee Barnard.
Substitutes: Paul Smith, Luke Prosser, Anthony Straker, Conor Clifford, Jack Payne, Bedsente Gomis