The squad being assembled by manager Darrell Clarke is slowly coming together and, on the evidence of pre-season games to date, Gasheads could well be in for an exciting and, hopefully, successful campaign.
Tonight, in Albufeira, Clarke’s side took on Hull City, a side newly promoted to the Premier League this time last season and were beaten 2-1.
The scoreline doesn’t really tell the whole story, though. Rory Gaffney gave Rovers a 50th minute lead but they were pegged back by a 67th equaliser from Abel Hernandez and Jarrod Bowen conjured up the winner with three minutes remaining.
Rovers certainly had territorial advantage in the first half and were unfortunate not to score in that opening period. After the break they gave as good as they got for most of the half but numerous changes and a tough morning training session in intense heat took their toll and they succumbed to that last gasp winner.
The manager’s squad was missing Lee Brown (back), Joe Partington (calf) and triallist Lewis Hall (shins) through injury but included first year pros Rollin Menayese, Cameron Hargreaves and Luke Russe.
Rovers almost took a first minute lead when Billy Bodin unleashed a ferocious left foot shot that saw goalkeeper Allan McGregor get down well to touch the ball away.
Fortunately for Hull Ellis Harrison was just unable to reach the loose ball, which was hacked away by a grateful Michael Dawson.
The response was immediate ad Abel Hernandez saw his shot blocked at the other end but with Rovers enjoying the majority of possession, Rovers soon broke again and Harrison saw his shot deflected behind by a Hull defender for the game’s first corner.
Liam Sercombe was next to try his luck, but his shot from distance was safely gathered by McGregor before Ollie Clarke ballooned a long range effort high over the bar.
Once again Bodin was causing problems for the opposition and on 19 minutes he threaded a delightful through ball to Harrison who, in spite of being forced wide of goal, managed to get a cross into the box but with no Rovers players close to the ball Dawson nonchalantly chested the ball back to his keeper.
In a rare Hull attack Hernandez dragged a shot wide of the upright However The Tigers couldn’t keep The Gas at bay for too long and next to break forward for Darrell Clarke’s side was Marc Bola who saw his rising shot from the edge of the area deflected behind for a
Sam Slocombe was called into action for the first time in the 41st minute when he rushed off his line to punch a Matt Clark cross clear. The keeper collided with Tom Broadbent in the process but neither player was injured and play continued.
As the half drew to a close a snap shot from Bodin almost led to the evening’s first goal. However McGregor was equal to the task and di well to save, diving low to his left to touch the ball away from danger.
Rovers made seven substitutions at the break, sending on Ryan Broom, Rory Gaffney, Tom Nichols, Chris Lines, James Clarke, Jonny Burn and Rollin Menayese in place of Leadbitter, Lockyer, Broadbent, Sinclair, Sercombe, Harrison, and Bodin.
It didn’t take Lin4es too long to make his mark, as he had the first shot of the second half, two minutes after the retsrat. However his shot from the edge of the area was comfortably saved by McGregor.
Five minutes in, though Rovers took the lead they so richly deserved when Gaffney intercepted a poor back pass, took the ball round the keeper and comfortably slotted the ball into the net to maintain his record of scoring in all of his pre-season appearances.
Gaffney had the ball in the net again on 58 minutes when he slotted home from close range after Byron Moore’s low cross. However it was chalked off for offside.
On the hour mark Rovers replaced Bola and Ollie Clarke with Luke Russ and Cameron Hargreaves respectively.
Daniel Batty then tested Slocombe in the Rovers goal, but the keeper dived full length to his left to save comfortably from the Hull substitute.
However The Tigers did manage an equaliser in the 67th minute when Hernandez broke down the left and fired low shot past Slocombe.
The keeper denied the same player just moments later and made a fine save from the striker at his near post.
At the other end Nichols, in his first appearance in a Rovers shirt saw his shot on the turn deflected behind for a corner and Burn just failed to get a strong connection on a cross from Lines.
Menayese went close for Rovers on 78 minutes when he rose above everyone else to reach a cross from Lines but he had to stretch to make a connection and McGregor easily saved.
There was a let off for Rovers with six minutes remaining when Jarred Bowen lashed a left foot shot towards goal from inside the area but, fortunately for Rovers, the ball came back into play off the post.
Hull then took the lead with three minutes remaining when Bowen curled a shot past the dive of Slocombe and into the net.
Menayese went close to equalising in the final minute when he again got on the end of a cross from Lines, but he directed his header straight at McGregor and the chance was gone.
Bristol Rovers: Sam Slocombe, Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Lockyer, Tom Broadbent, Marc Bola, Stuart Sinclair, Liam Sercombe, Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harrison, Billy Bodin, Byron Moore
Substitutes: Jonny Burn, James Clarke, Rollin Menayese, Ryan Broom, Chris Lines, Rory Gaffney, Tom Nichols, Adam Smith, Cameron Hargreaves, Luke Russe
Hull City: McGregor, Hernandez, Grosiski, Clucas, Evandron (Weir, 12), Bowen, Dawson, Hendriksen, Clark, Aina, Lenahan
Substitutes: McGlaughlin, Olley, Luer, Batty, Clackstone