Rovers Fans Team Undo Stags

April 2, 2006

[image1] Patchway Sports Centre was the venue for the game between the Bristol Rovers Fans Forum football team and their opposition, who had travelled down the M5 from the East Midlands town of Mansfield.

Rovers lined up in blue and white quarters, Mansfield were in their traditional amber shirts and blue shorts.

It was the home side that started the match more vibrantly. Rovers striker Chris Watkins made an early run into the visitors penalty area and seemed to be clear of the defence before a desperate attempt to win the ball by the Mansfield defender sent Watkins tumbling to the deck inside the penalty area. To the bemusement of everybody watching and playing the referee did not award a penalty kick.

After that Mansfield started push on and put pressure on the Rovers defence. Left back Richard Gregory was called into action on many occasions to deal with Mansfield’s persistent play down their right wing. The visitors seemed to favour that side to attack down and no sooner was it cleared by a blue and white shirted player was it back, but despite the pressure, few real chances were created, and goalkeeper Mat James was rarely called into serious action.

The Gas forum team started to get back into the game and gain a little more possession after that Mansfield spell, however the game was still tight and scrappy with nobody really able to take the game by the scruff of the neck from either side.

Mansfield did get their noses in front midway through the 1st half. A long ball forward from the Stags keeper was latched onto by one of his team-mates, whose shot deflected off of a Rovers defender and over the advancing goalkeeper to give the visitors a 1 goal lead.

The rest of the first half was much of the same as it was before the Mansfield goal. The game was still a scrappy spectacle with plenty of head tennis and loose control of the ball by players from both sides. Rovers had the final few chances of the half though, a sign of what was to come in the second period, with a John Filiter header saved as well and efforts from Ben Williams and Chris Watkins.

HALF TIME SCORE- BRISTOL ROVERS 0 MANSFIELD TOWN 1

The opening minutes after the break showed little promise of champagne football at Patchway, with the game continuing to be a midfield battle that neither side looked like winning. Then, Aaron Watts picked up the ball in the midfield, which started off a really slick interchange of passing, which led to the first real chance of the half. Ben Williams picked up the pass of Watts and fed it to Watkins, who managed to squeeze a pass out to John Filiter who had assumed a wide position. A cracking ball in was met by the head of the rising Watts at the back post leaving the goalkeeper with no hope, levelling the scores at 1-1.

Before any other real incident, and in quick succession, Rovers found themselves 2-1 up. Chris Watkins again broke free of the defence and found himself bearing down on the goalkeeper, however his side footed shot hit the post but was prevented from going into touch by Ben Wiltshire, whose low cross back into the box found Mike Greenhill who was able to stab home to score his first goal for the team.

Mansfield found themselves behind for the 1st time in the game and pushed men forward looking to get back into the game, however Rovers defence were up to the task, limiting the Mansfield forwards to a couple of tame efforts that were comfortably gathered by goalkeeper Mat James. Rovers looked to exploit the gaps being left in the visitors defence thanks to their attempts to equalize. It was most definitely the home side that were the better side in the second half despite Mansfield’s best attempts.

In the closing stages Mansfield piled more men forward looking for that equaliser, however a quick break forward earned Rovers a corner kick. From the resulting corner Aaron Watts made the game safe for Rovers, meeting the ball into the box with a volley that found its way into the roof of the net.

Mansfield were not prepared to give up without a fight though, and pulled a goal back in the very closing stages of the game when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the penalty area.

The following shot found the top corner of the net with the goalkeeper only able to get a slight touch. It was probably just as well it did find the back of the net because otherwise it may have kept going for a considerable distance and maybe killed some kind of farm animal in the process! That goal proved to be a consolation goal for the visitors in what were a decent Rovers performance and a deserved win.

FINAL SCORE- BRISTOL ROVERS 3 MANSFIELD TOWN 2

Players Man of the match was Aaron Watts.

Post Match Comment-

Goalkeeper Mat James said of his sides victory “I thought it was a good hard working performance by the lads today and I was particularly impressed with the spirit we showed to come back into the game second half, and eventually secure the win. The equalising goal was superb team play, something which we have been trying to achieve all season rather than relying on individuals, and defensively we looked like a unit too which is something that definitely helped to achieve a deserved win. “
Striker Dave White didn’t play the match but was there to lend his support from the sidelines and said, “it looked good from the sidelines – I said you had nothing to worry about at half time despite being a goal down, I knew an equalizer was going to happen.”

White agreed with James’ thoughts on the first goal adding “Cracking equaliser – really good team goal, and there were some very good individual performances out there – Aaron Watts a definite MOTM, Chris Watkins and Rich Gregory played very well. Couldn’t see a bad performance out there.”

Bristol Rovers line up-

1. Mat James (Hanhamgashead)
2. Kier Underhill  (Localgas2)
3. Richard Gregory (ricdog)
4. Rob Bayliss (Monkeyhead)
5. James Goodlet (Gashead55)
6. Mike Greenhill (Greenhill No1)
7. Ben Williams (Portishead Gas)
8. Aaron Watts (HollowaysBarmyArmy)
9. John Filiter (Posset Gas)
10. Chris Watkins (RTID-BDTR)
11. Ben Wiltshire (Gas Focus)

Substitutes for Rovers were Shane Howard (GasheadShane) Simon Matthews (Radstock Gas) and Simon Phillips (sprout1883).

The Bristol Fans Derby takes place this year at Ashton Gate on Thursday 20th April. Having raised over £16000 over the last three years, it continues to raise both funds and awareness for those in need. Once again this year the beneficiary of the match will be Childrens Hospice Soth West.

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