Bristol Rovers 1-2 Exeter City
At a windswept training ground this afternoon a Rovers reserve side were beaten 2-1 by their Exeter City counterparts.
The visitors took the lead through Dave Wheeler on 18 minutes, while Angelo Balanta equalised for Rovers four minutes later. Wheeler scored his, and Exeter's, second goal on 57 minutes to complete the scoring.
The important thing, as far as Rovers were concerned, was that Neal Trotman, Jake Gosling and Balanta all came through ninety minutes of much needed game time. All three senior players showed up well and were ably supported by three first year pros and a number of first and second year scholars.
Jamie Lucas hit an early shot wide of the mark and Alfie Kilgour headed wide from a Gosling free kick, while the Exeter keeper made an excellent double save, beating away a fierce drive from Gosling and blocking Trotman's follow up effort.
The opening goal came after Wheeler took advantage of a lapse of concentration at the back and got in behind Rovers central defenders to slot the ball past Kieran Preston, but Rovers hit back quickly when Gosling played a short corner to Balanta whose shot crept in at the far post.
Things were fairly even after the goals, though Balanta had another effort well saved and Preston made two fine saves just before half time.
Wheeler's second goal came shortly after Louis Ezwele had replaced Alfie Kilgour for his first game back after a lengthy spell out through injury. The youngster lost possession to the Exeter striker on the edge of the area and he comfortably beat Preston with a low shot.
Balanta drew another fine save from the Exeter keeper before the end of an evenly contested game in which both sides battled hard in difficult conditions.
Marcus Stewart, who was in charge of the side today, had this to say afterwards; "Everyone did well in a game arranged specifically for some of our senior pros, who needed minutes under their belts.
"They got that that and also played very well, as did the three on loan first year pros, Jamie Lucas, Danny Greenslade and Aaron Ward-Baptiste, who all played 90 minutes at the weekend.
"The first and second year scholars who came in did well and, although we lost, it was a very good game and it was pleasing to see some of those younger lads in action, something we are unable to do on a regular basis.
"Although Louis Ezwele was at fault for the second goal, we should remember that he has been out for a long time and while it took him a while to play himself into the game it was important that he was able to get that 30 minutes or so under his belt.
"Blake Davies, a first year scholar, was with us for the first time, while another first year lad, Alfie Kilgour, was making his second appearance at this level and I thought they both acquitted themselves really well."
Rovers: Kieran Preston, Harrison Trueman (Tom Fry, 15), Neal Trotman, Alfie Kilgour (Louis Ezwele, 56), Danny Greenslade, Jake Gosling, Mitch Palmer, Angelo Balanta, Ryan Broom, Aaron Ward-Baptiste (53), Jamie Lucas (64)
Substitute: Cameron Clarke