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Match Report: Bristol Rovers 1-2 Accrington Stanley

11 August 2018

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 1-2 Accrington Stanley

11 August 2018

A brace from Sean McConville punished Rovers to defeat in the opening home fixture of the 2018/19 campaign.

McConville struck early, but Rovers looked to had rescued a point when Stefan Payne headed home inside the last 10 minutes on his debut. In the final moments of normal time, a measured attempt from McConville threaded out of reach of Sam Slocombe, as the visitors took all three points.

In naming his side of the encounter, Manager Darrell Clarke opted to hand a Rovers debut to striker Stefan Payne and recalled Tom Broadbent to feature in the Rovers defence.

The game was in its infancy when the visitors took an early lead. A meandering run into the Rovers half by Jordan Clark led to the ball being fed to Sean McConville inside the Rovers area. The midfielder managed to shift the ball onto his right foot and thunder a low-shot towards goal that took a deflection of Tom Lockyer on its way past Sam Slocombe.

After taking a spell to settle into the contest, Rovers began to ask questions of the Accrington defence. A well-timed tackle by Kyle Bennett set up a quick break, as the winger looked to pick out Liam Sercombe at the far-post, but the cross was a little too powerful. Sercombe recycled the play, as the ball was shifted to Ollie Clarke, who flashed a left-footed attempt wide of goal.

Clarke's chance was preceded by threatening delivery from the right by James Clarke, as the full-back launched a looping cross into the area that almost crept underneath the crossbar and had Connor Ripley concerned in the Stanely goal.

As the first half progressed, Rovers started to enjoy more possession in and around the Accrington half. A smart piece of hold up play by Kyle Bennett allowed the winger to glance the ball into the path of Liam Sercombe, with the midfielder twisting and turning with the ball before seeing his eventual effort blocked in front of goal.

With half-time approaching, Darrell Clarke's men increased the intensity, with James Clarke directing a dangerous cross that flashed across the face of goal, that was only cleared as far as Ollie Clarke. Adjusting his body well, the midfielder poked an effort towards goal that was destined to find the net, only to be denied by a fine reaction stop by Ripley, who clawed the effort away from goal.  

In the closing minutes of the opening forty-five minutes, a free-kick in a threatening location looked set to allow Rovers to mount an effort on goal, but Kyle Bennett's floated delivery into the box was headed clear at the near post, as the home side had to settle going into the break behind in the contest.

As the game restarted, Rovers managed to carve an opening through the Accrington defence early on. A smart one-two between Stefan Payne and Kyle Bennett saw the winger break into the area. Arriving at the ball at pace, Bennett wasn't allowed time to wait for the ball to fall to a comfortable height to hit, as Mark Hughes edged the ball to safety.

Rovers maintained pressure, as a set piece into the Accrington area was headed clear, but only as far as Liam Sercombe. The midfielder shifted the ball onto his right foot but stretching slightly his shot on goal climbed off target.

On the hour mark, Chris Lines and Tom Nichols were introduced from the bench in place of Ed Upson and Alex Rodman to aid Rovers' quest to find an equaliser. 

Both substitutes were instantly involved in the thick of the action, as Nichols was hauled down that resulted in a free-kick deep in the Accrington half. Chris Lines set over the set-piece, with the midfielder delivering a whipped cross that narrowly missed the contingent of players in blue and white inside the box.

Nichols had a chance of his own shortly after, shielding the ball well inside the area before crafting space to shoot towards goal. The striker's shift change of direction foxed a number of the Accrington defenders, as his effort was aimed at the near post, but Ripley was alert to palm the attempt away from goal.

In the final allocated substitution, Sam Matthews replaced Tony Craig. With Rovers shifting shape to allow more attacking play, Accrington hit the home side of the break, with Jordan Clark advancing free into the area before hitting a right-footed attempt that bounced clean back off the crossbar. 

Immediately at the other end, Rovers forged a chance of their own. A drilled cross from the right from Liam Sercombe picked out James Clarke, as the defender deflected a first-time effort towards goal that was pushed wide by Ripley.

Inside the final ten minutes, Rovers did manage to find an equaliser. James Clarke did well to keep the move alive down the right, racing to meet a pass on by the touchline. As the defender took control and fired a cross into the area, the delivery wasn't dealt with, allowing the cross to navigate its way to Stefan Payne, who made no mistake in powering home a header from close range.

Just as the point looked safe, McConville again struck, guiding the ball into the bottom right of the net to ensure that points went to John Coleman's side.

Rovers XI: Sam Slocombe (GK), James Clarke, Tom Lockyer (c), Tom Broadbent, Tony Craig (75' Sam Matthews), Ollie Clarke, Ed Upson (60' Chris Lines), Liam Sercombe, Kyle Bennett, Alex Rodman (60' Tom Nichols) Stefan Payne.

Subs: Adam Smith (GK), Daniel Leadbitter, Chris Lines, Sam Matthews, Bernard Mensah, Tom Nichols, Gavin Reilly.

Accrington XI: Connor Ripley (GK), Callum Johnson, Mark Hughes, Ben Richards-Everton, Jordan Clark, Scott Brown, Offrade Zanzala (58, Sam Finley), Sean McConville, Ross Sykes, Seamus Conneely, Billy Kee.

Subs: Jonny Maxted (GK), Liam Nolan, Sam Finley, Harvey Rodgers, Andrew Mangian, Piero Mingoia, Matty Plat.

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