Mangotsfield United 0
Bristol Rovers 2
Blissett (31 & 60)
Referee: Mark Dadds
Rovers were made to work hard for victory by a gutsy Mangotsfield side at Cossham Street tonight, though the home side were grateful to goalkeeper Jason Mellor for limiting Rovers to just two goals.
As it was, a goal in each half from Nathan Blissett proved to be enough as Rovers made it four wins out of four pre-season games to date in the toughest game of the quartet.
Manager Darrell Clarke again had to make changes to the squad he announced earlier today and missing were Matty Taylor, Jennison Myrie-Williams.
Young Alfie Kilgour was handed his first start, playing in a back three alongside James Clarke and Tom Parkes.
Both sides created opportunities in the first minute, with Geraint bater lashing a volley high over Kieran Preston’s crossbar at one end and Ollie Clarke seeing his low shot saved by Jason Mekllor at the other.
After a frenetic spell, with neither side controlling the game, Mangotsfield’s Elliott Gibbons saw his first time volley drift well wide of the upright.
There was a chance for Rovers on 17 minutes when Daniel Leadbitter got down the right and picked out Toby Ajala with his ball into the box. The triallist brought the ball under control before firing a shot high over the bar.
After Nathan Blissett had glanced a header into the arms of Mellor, James Clarke headed just wide from a Chris Lines corner and then Lee Brown, receiving a pass from Ajala, hit a rasping drive straight at Mellor.
At the other end Kieran Preston comfortably held on to a shot from Steve Davies. However Rovers were gradually growing into the game and Ajala found Ellis Harrison in space only to see the striker curl a shot just over the bar.
The breakthrough came on 31 minutes when Blissett was first to reach a Lines corner from the right. Mellor got a hand to the striker’s first time effort, but couldn’t prevent the ball crossing the line.
Jake Cox went close to equalising two minutes later, but Preston did well to touch the ball behind. From the resulting corner the keeper made a fine reaction save from Alex Kite.
Rovers saw two chances cleared off the line four minutes before half time. Another Lines corner caused problems for the home defence and when the ball reached Harrison at the back post he headed across goal and picked out Clarke whose first time shot was blocked on the line.
Seconds later only a timely goal line clearance by Tom Parrinello prevented Harrison’s header from going in.
Rovers were on the attack straight away at the start of the second half and once again a chance came from a Lines corner. The ball reached Ajala who squared the ball to Ollie Clarke but his first time shot was charged down by a packed defence.
Mellor, in the home goal, made a fine double save as the hour mark approached. He somehow managed to push out a ferocious drive from line straight to Harrison, and made a fine reaction save to stop him doubling the lead.
There was nothing he could do to prevent a second goal, though, as Blissett scored his, and Rovers’ second goal of the evening, volleying into the net from a Lines cross.
Parkes went close to adding a third a minute later but Cox cleared his effort off the line following another Lines corner.
Rovers continued to push forward and Mellor produced an outstanding save on 66 minutes when he touched Harrison’s volley over the bar.
The overworked keeper then produced another stunning save to keep out a curling free kick from Lines.
After Rovers had made a double substitution, replacing both Clarke’s with Jay Malpas and Jake Slocombe respectively, Mellor saved again from Harrison and then Kilgour was unfortunate not to score when his header hit the inside of the post into the grateful keeper’s arms.
Mellor was again in the thick of the action as we entered the final ten minutes, this time diving to save at the feet of Ajala as he burst into the area.
In a rare home attack, five minutes from time, Cox fired over Preston’s crossbar. However Rovers were soon on the attack again and Mellor produced his best save of the night in the final minute somehow
managed to keep out a close range Harrison volley.
Mangotsfield United: Jason Mellor, Jake Cox, Tom Parrinello, Marcus Mapstone, Alex Kite, Geraint Bater, Elliott Gibbons, Brad Abraham, Ryan Bath, Lewis Hogg, Steve Davies
Substitutes (All used): Lewis Shipp, Andy Clark, Jack Nicholas, Joe Chandler, Omar Simpson, Liam Crew
Bristol Rovers: Kieran Preston, Daniel Leadbitter, James Clarke (Jake Slocombe, 70), Alfie Kilgour, Tom Parkes, Lee Brown, Ollie Clarke (Jay Malpas, 70), Chris Lines, Toby Ajala, Ellis Harrison, Nathan Blissett