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ROVERS COME FROM BEHIND TO DRAW AT VALE PARK

18 February 2017

Port Vale 1-1 Bristol Rovers

Attendance: 4,460 (765 away)

After a tight first-half that didn't offer many chances, an own-goal by Bob Harris ten minutes into the second-half allowed Port Vale to the lead in the contest, but a fine strike by Billy Bodin inside the final fifteen minutes allowed Rovers to record a point on the road to stretch their recent unbeaten run to five games.

Heading into the game at Vale Park, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke included Bob Harris in the starting eleven at the expense of Lee Brown, with Harris making his debut in the left-back role.

The home side made four changes to the side that were defeat by Millwall in the week, with Francisco Rosa, Chris Eagles, Jerome Thomas and Anton Forrester all returning to the line-up.

The first chance of the contest fell to Rovers, who were gifted an opportunity on goal when a slack clearance from Port Vale goalkeeper Leonardo Fasan was picked up by Rory Gaffney and the striker delivered a threatening ball across the area that was narrowly missed by Ellis Harrison, who was attempting a flicked finish that was reminiscent of the goal he scored against Northampton Town.

Rovers had to make an early change in the game, with defender Joe Partington forced off with an injury inside the opening ten minutes. Cristian Montano replaced the right-back, with Stuart Sinclair filling in at right-back.

Gaffney found himself again involved in the final third, with the striker picking up a loose ball and driving into the area before firing a driven effort that was fumbled by Fasan, with the 'keeper gratefully clutching the ball at the second attempt.

With chances few and far between in the first-half, a long-throw into the area by Bob Harris was headed clear by the Port Vale defence, with the clearance falling kindly for Chris Lines on the edge of the area and the midfielder waited patiently for the ball to drop before producing a well-struck volley that bounced just past the right-hand post.

The home side enjoyed a spell of pressure in the minutes heading into the half-time break, with defender Ryan Sweeney receiving a yellow card for a challenge just outside the Rovers area that interrupted a break for Port Vale. From the resulting free-kick JJ Hooper fired a curling effort goalwards that was deflected away by a brave header from Tom Lockyer.

During the break, Tom Lockyer was replaced by Jonny Burn, with the defender becoming the second Rovers player to make his debut in the fixture. 

Good play by Cristian Montano down the left moments after the restart allowed the winger to feed the ball through to Chris Lines, with the midfielder breaking in behind the Port Vale defence and opening up his body to curl a side-footed effort into the far corner, but his shot narrowly slide past the target with Port Vale 'keeper Fasan beaten at full-stretch. 

The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when a driven cross by Francisco Rosa was directed into a dangerous location across the six-yard area and was turned into the net from a deflection by Bob Harris for an own-goal to give the home side the lead.

Rovers introduced Luke James from the bench to offer more attacking outlets but came close to finding the target when Jonny Burn rose the highest inside the area to meet a set-piece, but the defender's powerful header rose over the crossbar.

With just twelve minutes left in the game, Billy Bodin did well to evade the advances of a number of tackles on the edge of the area, with the winger creating space to get a shot away and thundered a superb right-footed shot that flew across goal and into the top corner to level the game at 1-1.

Late on the visitors had a chance to take the lead, when a delivery into the box by Chris Lines was headed goalwards by Ryan Sweeney, with the defender beating 'keeper Leonardo Fasan to the cross, but his looping header nestled onto the roof of the net.

Next up for Rovers is the visit of Scunthorpe United to the Mem next Saturday in SkyBet League One.

Port Vale: Leonardo Fasan (G), Ben Purkiss, Kjell Knopps, JJ Hooper (67' Tyler Walker (72' Callum Guy)), Sam Foley, Daniel Pugh, Jerome Thomas, Anton Forrester, Francisco Rosa, Nathan Smith, Chris Eagles (67' Sam Kelly).

Substitutes: Ryan Boot (G), Dan Turner, James Gibbons, Olamide Shodipo.

Rovers: Joe Lumley (G), Bob Harris, Tom Lockyer (C) (45' Jonny Burn), Ryan Sweeney, Joe Partington (6' Cristian Montano), Stuart Sinclair, Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke, Billy Bodin, Ellis Harrison (63' Luke James), Rory Gaffney.

Substitutes: Will Puddy (G), Lee Brown, Lee Mansell, Byron Moore.

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