Rovers and Plymouth in stalemate
September 9, 2018
The Gas crafted a handful of chances, with the closest opportunity coming via a sweetly timed volley on the hour mark from Sam Matthews that required an admirable diving save from Matt Macey.
Matthews again tested Macey with a powerful drive from inside the area that forced a stop from the Plymouth ‘keeper.
At the other end, on his first start at the Mem, Jack Bonham produced an extraordinary save to prevent Carey from breaking the deadlock, with a reaction save from close-range keeping the scores level in the final stages, as the game ended with deadlock intact.
There were no less than five changes included in Darrell Clarke’s line-up for the visit of Plymouth to the Mem. The headline movement in the starting XI was the inclusion of Michael Kelly and Gavin Reilly – as the Scottish duo both made their first EFL League One starts for Rovers.
As the opening exchanges played out, it was the home side that created the first significant move of the game. Twenty yards out from goal, Sam Matthews waited patiently for a looping ball to drop to his feet before sending a laced effort that didn’t dip enough to hit the target.
Rovers began proceedings brightly and when Daniel Leadbitter found room to exploit down the right, the defender managed to drift an early low cross into the Plymouth area. The delivery bounced around the area, before falling to Kyle Bennett, but the winger couldn’t adjust his body to shape an effort towards goal.
It was Bennett that produced the first shot on target midway through the opening forty-five minutes, as the winger ventured forward with the ball at his feet and managed to wangle his way inside. As a path to goal presented itself, Bennett sweetly struck a right-footed shot that had to be clawed away by Matt Macey.
There were anxious moments for Rovers as the first-half progressed, as a curling cross from Graham Carey flashed across the face of goal and required a fingertip save from Jack Bonham to prevent the delivery creeping into the far corner.
After the break, it was again Rovers that crafted the first chance of the half. It was a series of neat touches in midfield that set the wheels in motions for a quick break forward, as Gavin Reilly was set free down the right. The striker had time to asses the options, before driving a low cross into the area that sailed too close to Macey.
There were encouraging signs for Rovers, as an intricate piece of build-up play on the fringes of the Plymouth area led to Sam Matthews venturing on a winding run into the penalty area. The winger danced away from numerous tackles, before directing a floated cross that missed the contingent of Rovers players inside the six-yard box.
It was down the right where Rovers found the most joy – as again Leadbitter was able to make the most of ample room to sprint deep into the final third. Deciding to halt his cross, the right-back darted to the byline before knocking a pulled back pass into the mix that was gratefully clutched by Macey.
The chances were beginning to get more clear cut for Rovers, as Matthews dugout out a beautifully struck volley on the hour mark that forced Macey into making a flying save to push the attempt wide of goal.
With the contest opening up, it was a bright demonstration of link-up play between Payne and Reilly that led to the Scottish forward getting a slight glimpse a goal when breaking through to latch onto Payne’s pass. Reilly managed to hold off the onrushing defender, but with the angle to goal closing rapidly his effort nestled into the side netting.
The first substitution for Rovers saw Tom Nichols was introduced, at the expense of Gavin Reilly.
With the clock ticking, it was Matthews again who opened a chance, as the winger broke into the Plymouth box after playing a lofted one-two with Payne, before powerfully striking towards goal, only to be denied by a reaction save from Macey that deflected the ball wide.
There were chances for Plymouth to strike, as a series of corners and crosses caused issues in the Rovers penalty area. Once such delivery fell to Graham Carey at point blank range, as the attacking midfielder drove a shot towards goal that was met with a simply incredible stop by Bonham from close range.
The final changes for Rovers saw a welcome return to action for Stuart Sinclair – but neither side could forge a late chance to threaten the deadlock.
Rovers XI: Jack Bonham (GK), Daniel Leadbitter (83′ Tom Broadbent), James Clarke, Tony Craig, Michael Kelly, Ollie Clarke (c), Chris Lines, Kyle Bennett, Sam Matthews (78′ Stuart Sinclair), Gavin Reilly (67′ Tom Nichols), Stefan Payne.
Subs: Adam Smith (GK), Tom Broadbent, Stuart Sinclair, Ed Upson, Alex Rodman, Tom Nichols, Alex Jakubiak.
Plymouth XI: Matt Macey (GK), Joe Riley (45′ Scott Wooton), Gary Sawyer (c), Yann Songo’o, Ryan Edwards, Jamie Ness (83′ Ryan Taylor), Antoni Sarcevic, Graham Carey, Niall Canavan, Conor Grant (60′ Joel Grant), Freddie Ladapo.
Subs: Ryan Taylor, Ruben Lameiras, Stuart O’Keefe, Joel Grant, Kyle Letheren, Ashley Smith-Brown, Scott Wootton.