Bennett hits hat trick as Rovers score six

Jul 15, 2018 | Match Reports, News

The Rovers first-team register a comprehensive victory in their opening pre-season fixture at Melksham Town.

Rovers fielded a strong side to start the encounter, with new signing Ed Upson linking up in midfield with Liam Sercombe. Defender Tom Lockyer and Tony Craig restored their partnership at the heart of the Rovers defence, while Adam Smith took up position between the post for the opening forty-five minutes.

Rovers enjoyed a fast-paced start to the game. An early searching ball forward by Kyle Bennett picked out the run of Tom Nichols, who had a free reign to run towards goal. The striker took a couple of touches to set himself but dragged his right-footed attempt wide of the target from the edge of the area.

The scoring commenced as early as the second minute. A ball into a congested Melksham area took a number of bobbles and bounces before today’s trialist improvised an effort towards the target which took a number of deflections, the last touch coming off the head of Kyle Bennett, as Rovers took an early lead.

Chances kept presenting themselves for Rovers, as Kyle Bennett split open the Melksham defence with a clinical pass that ran into the path of Tom Nichols. The striker used the pace of the pass to forge a way around the ‘keeper, but the Melksham defence rushed back and deflected clear his attempt to play the ball across the face of goal.

Rovers maintained the high tempo throughout the first half and were rewarded with a second goal just after the twenty-minute mark. The lively Sam Mattews was on hand to provide the assist, picking out Bennett on the edge of the penalty area. Bennett still had work to do and was able to dance past a number of challenges before producing a lobbed finish to lift the ball over the onrushing Melksham goalkeeper.

There wasn’t a long wait for the third goal of the afternoon, as Tom Nichols navigated away from his marker inside the area and quickly opted to fire a shot back across goal that nestled into the far corner of the net.

As half-time approached, there was time for Rovers to add a fourth goal. This time Bennett opted for a contrasting finish to his earlier goal, with a powerful effort that gave Kavpinen no time to react in the Melksham goal.

At the interval, Rovers changed all eleven players to maximise game time for the full squad. New arrival Alex Rodman started the closing forty-five minutes, while Ellis Harrison was paired with Gavin Reilly in attack.

The high volume of changes didn’t hinder Rovers’ tempo, as Chris Lines was quick to test the Melksham goal with a spectacular volley from twenty-five yards out that had to be pushed wide. The midfielder saw a well-struck free-kick drift wide moments later before he was on hand to play an inventive pass to feet of Ellis Harrison inside the penalty area, as the striker made no mistake with his finish to add goal number five.

The combination of Chris Lines and Ellis Harrison produced again just minutes later, as Lines picked out the forward run of Ellis with a through-ball across the surface. Again faced with a one-on-one situation facing him, the striker delivered a finish that directed the ball away from the Melksham ‘keeper to add his second strike of the afternoon, just ahead of the hour mark.

As the clocked ticked down, Rovers still maintained a threat in the attacking zones. Chris Lines and Bernard Mensah played a well-worked one-two inside the Melksham area, which crafted the opportunity for Chris Lines to glance an effort towards goal that was pushed away. Shortly after Lines’ attempt, Bernard Mensah saw a header from the far-post creep just over the crossbar.

Inside the final ten minutes, there was an opportunity for Ellis to secure his hat-trick, but his attempt one-on-one with the Melksham goalkeeper was touched wide, with rebound falling in the direction of Gavin Reilly, who sent his header onto the post after adjusting late to make contact with the loose ball.

Rovers First-Half: Smith, Leadbitter, Lockyer, Craig, A.Clarke, Upson, Sercombe, Matthews, Bennett, Trialist, Nichols.

Rovers Second-Half: Slocombe, Partington, Bailey, J.Clarke, Kelly, Mensah, O.Clarke, Lines, Rodman, Harrison, Reilly.

Goals: Bennett (2′, 22′, 24′)  Nichols 24′, Harrison (54′, 56′)