Rovers held at Blackpool
January 14, 2018
Rovers played out a stalemate draw at Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon, to earn themselves a point on the road.
It was a fairly evenly matched contest with chances at a premium, Rovers’ best falling to Rory Gaffney who had an early goal disallowed and also rounded the keeper in the second half but couldn’t finish from a tight angle.
With two weeks between the win over Portsmouth and Saturday’s game, Darrell Clarke had plenty of time to mull over his team selection, and opted for four changes.
Billy Bodin’s last game for the club was against Pompey, whilst Tom Broadbent, Tom Nichols and Lee Brown all dropped down the bench to make way for Ryan Sweeney, Marc Bola, Ellis Harrison and Liam Sercombe.
There was also a place amongst the substitutes for new signing Bernard Mensah.
Within seconds of the kick off, Gaffney had the ball in the back of the net with a clever flick past the keeper after being played in behind, but was flagged for offside.
Gaffney was proving to be a handful operating as a runner from long balls in the opening 10 minutes, but was still tuning his timing, with forward getting behind one on one once again only to be caught offside.
The hosts had their first sniff of goal just moments later, with Sean Longstaff’s driven effort from just outside the area narrowlywide of the mark.
Blackpool’s chances continue to stretch as far as efforts outside the 18-yard box, this time with Sessi D’Almeida firing a strike wide of the target.
The first 45 minutes didn’t offer too much in the way of thrills and spills, with both sides defensively sound, including a superb block by Sweeney to deny Nathan Delfouneso who looked to have got on the end of a useful cross.
The interval seemed to inspire little in the way of invigoration to the game, with proceedings continuing in an action-lacking manner.
There was however a heart in mouth moment for Adam Smith, who appeared to misjudge a driven strike from the left side of the box from Colin Daniel, but thankfully it flew past the post.
Sweeney also got away with an error of judgement with half an hour remaining, as the centre half lost possession in a dangerous area to Delfouneso leaving his partner Tom Lockyer outnumbered two to one, but the skipper did superbly to stifle the attack.
Following the Seasider’s introduction of Armand Gnanduillet 64 minutes in, the hosts began to put Rovers under short spell of pressure, with Smith twice having to come and punch threatening deliveries clear.
It wasn’t long after that Clarke made his first change, introducing Tom Nichols at the expense of Ellis Harrison.
Gaffney had looked like Rovers’ most likely source of an opener, and he so nearly gave them one when he broke down the left and rounded Joe Lumley but left himself with a tight angle that he so was very close to finding.
The visitors continued to knock on the Blackpool door, and went close again when Joe Partington forced a fine save out of Lumley at the back stick from a corner.
Blackpool weren’t settling for a draw earlier, and their nack of scoring from outside the area almost continued, with Jay Spearing letting fly and seeing his effort sail just wide of the goal.
Rovers made their second change with roughly four minutes of normal time remaining, as Dom Telford came on in place of Sercombe.
The on loan striker got straight into the action and forced a save out of the keeper with a powerful shot inside the box, with the rebound falling to Gaffney who struck the side netting with a smartly hit volley.
That was to be Rovers final stab at a winner, who had to settle for a point and a clean sheet on a cold windy day up at Bloomfield Road.
Rovers XI: Adam Smith, Tom Lockyer (c), Ryan Sweeney, Ollie Clarke, Liam Sercombe (Dom Telford, 86′), Chris Lines, Joe Partington, Marc Bola, Stuart Sinclair, Ellis Harrison (Tom Nichols, 74′), Rory Gaffney.
Subs: Sam Slocombe, Lee Brown, Bernard Mensah, Byron Moore, Tom Broadbent.
Blackpool XI: Joe Lumley, Kelvin Mellor, Will Aimson, Clark Robinson, Ollie Turton, Jay Spearing, Jimmy Ryan (Danny Philliskirk, 80), Sessi D’Almeida (Armand Gnanduillet, 64′), Sean Longstaff, Colin Daniel, Nathan Delfouneso ((Rowan Roache, 80).
Unused subs: Christoffer Mafoumbi, Nick Anderton, Jim McAlister, Callum Cook.
Attendance: 4,001 (1,112 away).