Rovers pre-season preparations continued with a trip to Barnet, with behind closed doors friendly against the National League outfit.
The fixture saw a number of the first-team squad completing 60 minutes of action and a handful of players registering the full 90 minutes, as the new season draws ever closer.
The home side scored twice in the first-half and once again late on in the game to register the win, but the wider benefit of competitive match minutes benefiting both teams, in what was a high tempo and spirited pre-season fixture.
Early on, Jed Ward was called into action, with the Rovers ‘keeper showing apt alertness to break through a congested area to successfully claim a threatening cross into the Rovers area.
Rovers' opening chance came after a sustained spell of possession outside the host’s penalty area. Harvey Saunders attempted to advance into the penalty area, with the striker dispossessed and the ball falling kindly to Jonah Ayunga, who fired a long-range effort high over the target from 25-yards out.
It was the home side who took the lead, ten minutes into the encounter. A corner routine saw an out-swinging corner find Mason Bloomfield, who was able to plant a header beyond Ward to give Barnet the advantage.
Responding to Bloomfield’s opener, Rovers had the chance to mark an instant response. Zain Westbrooke broke forward and from a central position, angled a useful delivery to the far-post that picked out the advanced Ryan Jones. The youngster did well to meet the delivery under pressure and managed to cushion a handy ball back across goal that just needed the faintest of touches to edge the delivery towards goal.
Westbrooke had a plausible chance of his own moments later, as Rovers won a free-kick after Harvey Saunders was shoved to the floor on the edge of the area. With a narrow-angle on gaol for the set-piece, Westbrooke opted to curl his free-kick in the vicinity of the near post where the Barnet ‘keeper was forced into tipping the effort over the crossbar.
As the half progressed, Rovers enjoyed the favourable share of the chances, with Aaron Collins curling an effort wide from range and Harvey Saunders behind played through on goal, only to be halted by a delayed offside flag.
Barnet managed to grab the second goal of the game in the 35th minute, with Jamie Turley doubling the home side’s advantage. There looked to be a foul on Jed Ward in the build-up, as the Rovers ‘keeper dived bravely on a loose ball inside the penalty area, only to bundled to the ground. Barnet recycled play and dug out a cross to the far-post, where Turley hit low volley into the empty net.
Late on in the first 45-minutes, a useful cross from the left from Ryan Jones picked out Harvey Saunders, who glanced a header beyond the target, as Barnet held a two-goal lead at the interval.
The only change at the break came in the Rovers goal, as Ward was replaced by a trialist goalkeeper for the second half.
Rovers had an early opportunity to reduce Barnet’s lead when the home side overstretched themselves on an attack, which led to Arron Collins sliding Ryan Jones through on goal. The wide man picked up the ball just inside the Barnet half and tinkered with the idea of lobbing the ‘keeper, who was well out his goal. Jones decided to run the ball deep and went to set himself of his favoured left-footed, only for his effort to be thwarted by a last-ditch tackle.
The flow of the second half was interrupted by the steady stream of substitutions for both sides, as game time was distributed throughout the playing squad.
With 15 minutes remaining the younger contingent of the Rovers squad were introduced, with 18s trio of Harvey Greenslade, Jamie Egan and Tyron Thomson all bought on.
Rovers finished the game with a series of half-chances. Luca Hoole was able to break forward into an advanced position and square a delivery across goal that didn’t quite sit for substitute Tomlinson to attack. Tom Mehew also saw a handy delivery from a set-piece swing wide of goal.
Barnet added a late third goal when a long-ball foraged forward was flicked into the path of a Barnet trialist, who fired home from inside the area.
Next on the agenda for the Gas is a pre-season encounter with Plymouth Argyle at the Mem next Saturday.
Rovers: Jed Ward (45’ Trialist), Mark Hughes (65’ Joe Budd), Nick Anderton (65’ Jamie Egan), Luca Hoole, Pablo Martinez, Zain Westbrooke (75’ Harvey Greenslade), Cam Hargreaves (75’ Tyron Thomson) , Ryan Jones (75’ Lucas Tomlinson), Harvey Saunders (65’ Tom Mehew), Aaron Collins (60’ Zain Walker), Jonah Ayunga (75’ Kinsley Murray)