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Match Reports

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 2-2 Portsmouth

26 October 2019

Rovers come back superbly to draw against Portsmouth.

The visitors were awarded a fiercely debated penalty inside the opening ten minutes, which Gareth Evans scored, giving Portsmouth a foothold in the contest.

Rovers had chances during the first-half, Ed Upson going closest for the Gas, but two fine stops from Jaakkola get the visitors lead to just one goal in the wet and blustery conditions at BS7. 

The home side created half-chances in the second half, but couldn't really find a way to test MacGillvray. 

Ronan Curtis' close-range header with twenty minutes remaining looked to have sealed the points for Portsmouth, but a late strike from Alex Rodman cut the deficit to one-goal just minutes later to give Rovers hope heading into the closing stages.

The fans remained faithful in the Gas and it was repaid in the 93rd minute as a Liam Sercombe corner deflected off Ross McCrorie, onto the bar, onto the 'keepers outstretched glove and in, a scrappy goal, but a goal none-the-less.

Rovers headed into the game with two changes on the teamsheet from Tuesday's defeat at the hands of Bolton. There was a change down the left, as Luke Leahy was drafted in as a replacement for Michael Kelly, with Tyler Smith included in the starting XI, with Tom Nichols making way.

Rovers enjoyed a bright start to the game and hit a number crosses into the box, but just couldn't carve an opening to create the games opening chance.

That start was blighted less ten minutes into the contest, the visitors were awarded a penalty, in what seemed to be harsh circumstances for Rovers. A melee on the goal line led to a number of bodies colliding, with the referee deeming that Luke Leahy had pushed John Marquis and awarded the spot-kick. There was a spell of deliberation as the referee consulted his assistant on the touchline, but the penalty was given and the delay didn't seem to trouble the taker Gareth Evans, who dispatched from the spot. 

Coughlan's side responded well after the early setback and enjoyed prolonged spells possession, but couldn't turn the time on the ball and passes across the midfield. 

Jaakkola was on hand to make two high quality stops to prevent Portsmouth from stretching their lead as the first-half progressed. Both saves came in similar positions, the first pushing away a header from Marquis and the second, which was arguably the better stop, diving low to tip wide a Raggett header. 

Ed Upson's individual effort on the half-hour mark almost provided a pathway for an equaliser. The midfielder showed a neat touch to tie up his marker 30-yards out and kept his balance to drive a low effort towards the target that was touched wide by a MacGillivray save, in what surely would have been a contender for goal of the season had it found the bottom corner. 

The midfielder turned provider minutes, cultivating a free-kick into the box that held enough height for Tom Davies to attack, but the defender's climbed rapidly off-target.

As stoppage time came, a series of corners made sure the visitors were alert as the game reached the interval. Ollie Clarke had an effort blocked inside the congested penalty area and was unable to test MacGillivray in the dying moments of the first half.

After the break, Rovers had a strong appeal for a penalty turned away, just seconds after the restart. A cross into the box edged to Luke Leahy, who saw his volley stopped by Burgress' midriff, with the claims of handball quickly dispanded by the official. 

A well-worked corner routine yielded a further opportunity moments later, a cross pinballed its way to Tyler Smith, who was denied by a last-ditch tackle from McCorrbie, with a late linesman's flag coming to visitors rescue.

Rovers housed the fair majority of the attacking play during the second half, but couldn't quite find the final touch or pass to create clear-cut chances. Alex Rodman got around his man down the right to dig out a cross that flung across the goalmouth, narrowly missing both Ogogo and Adeboyejo, who had darted into the box in an attempt to meet the delivery. 

The second goal of the game was always going to be crucial and it fell to the visitors, with a little of twenty minutes remaining. After soaking up the pressure from Rovers, it was a cross from Marquis that swung to the far post, where Curtis was waiting to nod home from close-range to give Portsmouth a two-goal cushion. 

Rovers did respond, a cross into the Portsmouth box found to Kilgour, who saw his header blocked, but the rebound fell to Rodman, who drove the ball home from close-range to give the Gas hope heading into the final ten minutes. 

Rodman came close again, this time edging an awkward volley wide of goal as Rovers threw everything into capturing an equaliser, and were repaid for their tenacity in the 93rd minute.

Liam Sercombe delivered a superb corner into the area which Rodman narrowly missed, however, as the goalscorer turned round, he witnessed the ball deflect off the thigh of Portsmouth's Ross McCrorie onto the bar. Stretching to get a touch to the original deflection, MacGillivray ended up rebounding the ball back off the bar and into the net, prompting massive celebrations from the boys in blue.

Rovers head to Rochdale next weekend. 

Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola (GK), Abu Ogogo, Tony Craig (C) (70' Mark Little), Ed Upson (89' Kyle Bennett, Ollie Clarke (71' Liam Sercombe), Tyler Smith, Alfie Kilgour, Tom Davies, Luke Leahy, Victor Adeboyejo, Alex Rodman.

Subs: Jordi Van Stappershoef, Michael Kelly, Tom Nichols, Rollin Menayese.

Pompey: Craig MacGillivray (GK), Lee Brown, Tom Naylor (C), Christian Burgess, Ryan Williams, John Marquis, Ross McCorrbie, Ronan Curtis, Sean Raggett, Gareth Evans, Ben Close.

Subs: Alex Bass (GK), Paul Downing, James Bolton, Andrew Cannon, Marcus Harness, Ellis Harrison, Brandon Haunstrup.

Attendance: 8,648 (1404)


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