View From The Away Terrace

October 2, 2005

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Bristol to Carlisle. Five hundred and sixty odd miles and approximately eight and a half hours round trip by road. Add to that the fact Carlisle were odds on favourites for a home win and it didn’t look like an attractive proposition as to how to spend a Saturday. 

Once we arrived there it was like spot the skip, as they were outside pretty much every other house on the road up to Brunton Park. After the flooding, which almost wiped out the stadium, skips are in such short supply they are coming from all over the north to meet demand, even Scotland. First thing I saw was the impressive new club shop, built no doubt with some of the insurance money, and certainly the source of some good ideas to bring back to Bristol. We heard the tail of how one of the club goldfish survived the flood, being found in the water on the flooded pitch after being thrust from it’s home in the fishtank in the club’s offices. A fishy story! [image2]

With the disappointing result against Bury on Tuesday night, caretaker boss Paul Trollope certainly needed to come back with something from this game, even if it was against the form book. Who could have predicted what was to unfold, with Gasheads eager to be there to witness Rover’s 5000th league goal.

Robbie Ryan had failed a late fitness test, so Chris Carruthers came in as left back. Other than that it was a familiar looking line up, and one that filled me with optimism that we just might get a result.

I went and joined the Scottish Gasheads, fans since our pre season friendly at Ayr a few years ago, and on occassion good luck charms for the team. Its rare for them to see Rovers lose, so the omens were looking good.

The match got under way with Carlisle kicking towards the away terrace, helped by a fair breeze behind them. They were quick out of the blocks and the Rovers defence was showing some early nerves, not helped by the fact that a lot of players were losing their footing on a new surface that had perhaps not knitted quite as well as it should have to play football on.

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Carlisle were desperate to get an early goal and after a spell of pressure scored in the 7th minute, with Hinton slipping at a crucial time and the impressive O’Brien had a clear route to slot it past Shearer to make it 1-0 to the home side.

More pressure was to follow and then it just seemed that Rovers had worked out Carlisle seemed to only have one tactic, long hopeful balls over the top. Then the game suddenly seemed  to start going Rover’s way, and the away side started to enjoy good spells of pressure. Disley , Walker and Agogo all went close, but that all important moment in front of goal just wouldn’t come. Ali Gibb seemed to be having a mightmare in the first half, but at half time Rovers, despite being a goal down, seemed to be in the acsendancy.

Second half then, and with Rovers kicking towards their own fans, things started to happen. Carlisle continued to put long balls forward, but Hunt and Hinton were equal to most and started putting good balls out into the channels. Whatever Paul Trollope said to Ali Gibb at half time worked a treat, as he was like a Trojan in the second half running at the defence and getting good crosses in. [image4]Fifty seven minutes and Rovers were on level terms. Gibb put a ball in from the left and Agogo ran onto it looking for the 5000th goal. He was just beaten to it by the defence but a deflected clearance cannoned back of Livesey and past his keeper for a Rovers equaliser. Typical, that landmark goal opportunity ruined with an own goal. Still it made us all laugh when the announcer credited it to Junior!

That was it, it really looked like we could go on and take all the points now, and in a sublime move a dazzling Junior broke in from the left and put a ball just over the goalie which tantilisingly rolled along the crossbar before the grateful Livesey could hack it clear.

The game was now moving into the final stages now and it seemed despite Rovers having most of the posession, they might be thwarted from all three points. On eighty two minutes though, the Rover’s faithful were rewarded with another amazing goal. Agogo had been put through down the left and broke inside twisting the defender this way and that and had a shot which though goal bound took a deflection and left the keeper stranded to watch another own goal pass him into the net.Gasheads were now watching the clock maybe more than the game and keeping everything crossed. [image5]

With Ali Gibb needing to leave the pitch after being fouled and Carlisle making three substitutions, the fourth official held up the board to signal 4 minutes of added time, just what we didn’t want to see.</p>

We needn’t have worried though, as Richard Walker hit a lovely curling shot which he was unlucky to see pass the post and in stoppage time, despite late pressure from the home side, Junior broke onto a ball over the top to chip over the advancing keeper for his (claimed) second of the afternoon to send the away terrace delirious. This was further enhanced by the whole team coming over to the away end to show their appreciation for the support after the final whistle, a gesture much appreciated by the fans and a good step towards a healthy relationship between players and fans. [image6]

Being on a terrace at one end is not the ideal place to be to write a match report, but I was able to see enough to convince me we are making progress under Trollope. Solid performances from the team meant Trollope made no substitutions for the second time in three games. The defence was solid and Shearer had another really good game with assured handling. Every Rovers player is worthy of praise for the way they played as a team, including Leary, a popular player who many hope we can keep for a further loan. He gets stuck in and is always looking to get the strikers away, and with Carruthers coming in we had added width today which caused Carlisle real problems.

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