Bristol Rovers 1-1 Aston VillaAttendance: 5,219 (1,013)
Rovers ticked off another game of their pre-season campaign with a draw against Championship side Aston Villa at the Mem.
Matty Taylor’s superb second half solo goal canceled out Jordan Ayew’s first half opener.
Both teams started the game slowly, feeling each other out until with just over 10 minutes on the clock Jordan Ayew stung the palms of Steve Mildenhall from range.
Moments later at the other end of the field Billy Bodin attempted to re-create his goal against Dagenham & Redbridge twisting and turning his way around Villa defenders before Nathan Baker put a stop to his advances.
Just past the half hour mark Rovers had the ball in the back of the net as Jermaine Easter tucked away a loose ball in the penalty area only to see referee Simon Hooper rule the goal out for a foul from Lee Mansell on Jores Okore.
With less than five minutes of the first half remaining, the Championship side took the lead through Jordan Ayew.
The Ghanaian International drove powerfully through the middle of the pitch before calmly slotting the ball past an outstretched Steve Mildenhall.
Rovers almost struck back immediately seconds later as a cross from the right hand side was headed against the post by a diving Rory Gaffney.
Darrell Clarke made seven changes at half time, allowing Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harriosn, Jake Gosling, Chris Lines, Cristian Montano, Luke James and most importantly Matty Taylor to get 45 minutes under their belt before the squad travel to Spain.
In his first game since re-signing for the club, Matty Taylor was almost heavily involved in Rovers first goal.
Last season’s top goal scorer picked up the ball from midfield and powered through the middle of the pitch before picking out Luke James on the Rovers left. James quickly returned the ball to Taylor who then picked out Ellis Harrison only to see his shooting opportunity snatched off him by Jores Okore.
With just 60 minutes on the clock, Roberto Di Matteo made his changes making six substitutes of his own including former Rovers starlet Scott Sinclair.
Rovers continued to press for an equalising goal as substitute Ryan Broom found some space on the right hand side before whipping a delightful ball into the penalty area only to see efforts from Ellis Harrison and Chris Lines blocked by the Villa defence.
Matty Taylor looked bright during the second half showing some nice touches before pulling Rovers level with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Taylor received the ball from Cristian Montano before showing Gary Gardner a clear pair of heels. Last seasons top goal scorer took the ball around another player before a fantastic dummy opened up space for a shot and Taylor didn’t hesitate firing low past Mark Bunn.
After conceding, Villa began to press again and had chances to win the game through Scott Sinclair who shot wide and Jack Grealish who was denied by Will Puddy.
Rovers: Mildenhall (Puddy – 62); Leadbitter (Broom – 62), Mansell (O. Clarke – 46), McChrystal (C), Brown (Greenslade – 62); Bodin (Taylor- 46), Lawrence (Gosling – 46), Sinclair (Lines – 46), Moore (Montano – 46 (Kilgour – 82); Easter (James – 46), Gaffney (Harrison – 46).
Villa: Gollini (Bunn – 46), Baker (Lescott – 46), Bennett (Cissikho – 59), Okore (Gardner – 59), Westwood (Gueye – 59), Ayew (Sinclair – 59), Hutton (Gestede – 59), Grealish, Tshibola, Hepburn-Murphy, Green.