11.07.23 Cardiff Friendlies

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton made four changes to the starting XI from the team that kicked off against Eastleigh on Saturday for the first of two games against Cardiff City. James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, George Friend and Luke Thomas came in, with Jed Ward, James Gibbons, Ryan Jones and Ryan Loft dropping out.

The first 60-minute game began with both sides displaying some attractive build-up play, but neither team could find an end product. Cardiff City forced Rovers’ goalkeeper Belshaw to make a diving save to his right.

After some neat play on the left wing, Rovers’ George Friend floated a cross into Aaron Collins, who headed narrowly wide.

The Gas took the lead fifteen minutes into the game as Sam Finley played Luke Thomas down the wing and he crossed it into Scott Sinclair, who sidefooted home - the third consecutive pre-season game in which he has opened the scoring.

Momentum was on Rovers’ side as more chances came knocking down the right side; however, the Bluebirds’ defence kept the goal tally to one. Nineteen minutes into the game, Rovers’ defender James Connolly received a yellow card for pulling the Cardiff striker’s shirt.

Half-time arrived in the behind-closed-doors clash, with Rovers still a goal to the good.

There were no changes for either side for the second period, which began relatively slowly.

Against the run of play, the hosts found an equaliser midway through the second-half from Callum Robinson, who curled it in low, just out of Belshaw’s reach. Cardiff looked to capitalise on the goal by pressuring all over the pitch, not allowing room for Rovers to create any chances.

A miscommunication at the back called for Connolly to make a goal-line clearance but that was the end of the action and Rovers claimed a share of the spoils.

ROVERS: Belshaw, Hoole, Wilson, Friend, Connolly, Finley, Grant Ward, Thomas, Sinclair, Brown, Collins.

CARDIFF: Allsop, Ng, McGuiness, Simpson, Bagan, Rinomhota, Ralls, Ojo, Robinson, Evans, Etete.


There was a full XI rotation for the second game.

Marquis won a free-kick early in the game high up in the Rovers’ half; however, nothing could be made from it. Cardiff City opened the scoring just five minutes in when a low cross was drilled in to allow for a first-time tap-in from striker, Ollie Tanner.

Jed Ward made a brilliant save from the hosts' Ike Ugbo's 10-yard strike to keep the scoreline at 1-0.

Half-time in the second game arrived with Cardiff having enjoyed large spells of dominance in possession. Rovers responded by making one change at the interval, with Jerry Lawrence replacing Theo Lynden.

Loft did well to dispossess the Welsh side' left-back and found Evans down the right wing who floated it to the back post, where Marquis put his first-time shot wide. On the other side of the pitch, Jed Ward did well to save a low drive shot at his near post.

Rovers won a corner after Greenslade slid Marquis in at the near post and Alnwick did well to save his shot.

Kofi Shaw was introduced to the action, before great defensive work from Larvin who blocked a powerful shot at goal by a Cardiff striker.

Despite late half-chances for the visitors through Marquis and Evans, Cardiff held on to secure a 1-0 victory.

ROVERS: Jed Ward, Greenslade, Larvin, White, Lynden, Bridgman, McCormick, Evans, A. Triallist, Marquis, Loft.

CARDIFF: Alnwick, Romeo, Goutas, Benjamin, Collins, Adams, Wintle, Tanner, Colwill, O’Dowda, Ugbo.

Report: Kyle Gibbs


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