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ROVERS WIN PROMOTION ON PENALTIES

17 May 2015

Bristol Rovers 1-1 Grimsby Town (Rovers win 5-3 on Penalties)

Attendance: 47,029

Bristol Rovers return to the Football League after a 5-3 penalties win against Grimsby Town at Wembley Stadium.

Lennell John-Lewis opened the scoring before Ellis Harrison drew the game level in the first half before Rovers netted all five of their penalties to secure the victory.

Darrell Clarke made one change to the side that eased past Forest Green Rovers at the Memorial Stadium recalling Ellis Harrison into the starting 11 after the young Welshman served his one game suspension.

Rovers got off to the worst possible start as Town top goal scorer Lenell John-Lewis capitalised on an early mix up in the Rovers penalty area to put Paul Hurst's men a goal up.

Paul Hurst's men continued to press and look the most dangerous with Rovers counter attacking when only 10 minutes into the game there was a clash between Matty Taylor and Grimsby keeper James McKeown resulting in both players receiving treatment.

John-Lewis was the Mariners main outlet and could have potentially doubled Grimsby's lead had it not have been for a fantastic reaction save from Will Puddy at his near post.

From the resulting corner, Scott Brown whipped the ball into the penalty area and his cross was met by the head of Aristote Nsiala who thundered his header over the bar.

Rovers seemed to settle but Grimsby were still looking dangerous with long-range efforts from Nathan Arnold and Ollie Palmer both going close.

Darrell Clarke's men formed their first real attack after solid work in the midfield by Lee Mansell. The ball was then worked out to the Rovers left where Andy Monkhouse drilled the ball low into the danger area only to see Nsiala clear over his own crossbar.

From that corner, there was pinball in the Town box before the ball fell to the feet of Ellis Harrison and the Welsh youngster hammered home his shot emphatically to draw the game level

Neither side really created a clear opportunity in the closing stages of the first half with Rovers have two free kicks which James McKeown dealt with well.

Paul Hurst's men came out in the second half with the same intensity they showed in the first but a solid defensive effort kept the Mariners at bay in the opening ten minutes.

Both sides pressed well in what was a very high paced game but neither managed to create, the deadlock prompted Paul Hurst to change his options upfront, replacing Ollie Palmer with Jon-Paul Pittman with 20 minutes of normal time remaining.

Moments later Darrell Clarke made a change of his own bringing on Angelo Balanta to replace Jake Gosling.

Several minutes passed and the large pitch at Wembley seemed to be taking it's toll on a few players out there. One of which being Rovers goal scorer Ellis Harrison who after going down clutching his lower legs was replaced by Nathan Blissett.

Both sides played out the final 15 minutes with the only real opportunity of note coming deep into injury time as Lennell John-Lewis lashed the ball across the Rovers six-yard area but no-one was there to apply the vital touch.

This meant that the game went into Extra Time in front of what was a record breaking attendance for the Conference of 47,029.

With almost ten minutes on Extra Time gone Paul Hurst made his final change of the game bringing on Craig Clay in place of Scott Brown for a set of fresh legs in the middle of the park. 

Neither side wanted to give an inch with players on both sides beginning to tire and with just over ten minutes of Extra Time remaining Rovers were awarded a free kick after Shaun Pearson handled under heavy pressure from Nathan Blissett.

Lee Mansell whipped the ball into the back post and his delivery was met by the head of Chris Lines but he couldn't force a save out of McKeown.

In the dying minutes of Extra Time, Grimsby substitute Jon-Paul Pittman had a fantastic chance to win the game, after Craig Clay stepped Tom Lockyer on the edge of the area and played in Pittman. As he was falling Pittman pulled the trigger beating Puddy but Tom Parkes was there to clear the ball off the line.

With just one minute to play, Darrell Clarke made a bold move replacing Will Puddy with Steve Mildenhall with penalties looming.

The whistle blew for Full Time and after a flip of a coin between the two captains, the penalties were taken in front of the Grimsby supporters with Rovers to take the first penalty.

PENALTIES

Chris Lines - Scored    Craig Disley - Scored    1-1
Matty Taylor - Scored    Lennell John-Lewis - Scored    2-2
Lee Brown - Scored    Jon-Paul Pittman - Missed    3-2
Angelo Balanta - Scored    Craig Clay - Scored    4-3
Lee Mansell - Scored

Lee Mansell's winning penalty meant that Rovers bounced back to the Football League at the first time of asking!
 
Rovers: Puddy (Mildenhall - 119); Lockyer, McChrystal (C), Parkes, Brown; Gosling (Balanta - 75), Mansell, Lines, Monkhouse; Taylor, Harrison (Blissett - 80).

Unused Substitutes: Leadbitter, Clarke.

Grimsby: McKeown, Brown (Clay - 98), Pearson, Magnay, Mackreth, Disley (C), John-Lewis, Arnold, Nsiala, Palmer (Pittman - 70), Robertson (Parslow - 74).

Unused Substitutes: Hannah, Jolley.

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