Friendly fixtures 2020-21

Mar 16, 2023 | News

Friendly Fixtures 2020/21

08/08/20 – Bristol Manor Farm

15/08/20 – Exeter City

21/08/20 – Newport County

22/08/20 – Forest Green Rovers

25/08/20 – Cheltenham Town

28/08/20 – Cardiff City

Matches played behind closed doors due to pandemic. Referees unknown.

Somewhat later than usual, because of the pandemic, pre-season games for the 2020/21 campaign didn’t begin until August and on the eighth of that month manager Ben Garner ‘s side made the short trip to The Creek, home of Bristol Manor Farm.

On a warm afternoon, Rovers ran out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Zain Walker (2), Jonson Clarke-Harris and Lucas Tomlinson.

Clarke-Harris scored the game’s first goal in the ninth minute when he was played in by Walker and rounded home keeper Ben John before slotting the ball into the empty net from close range.

Walker’s first goal arrived in the 20th minute when his shot from the edge of the area beat John before nestling in the bottom corner of the net.

The home side’s only chance of the opening half fell to Stuart Tovey, whose header was way off target.

Walker scored his second, and Rovers’ third, as half time approached when he took a pass from Tom Mehew and comfortably beat John.

(James Daly in action at Bristol Manor Farm)

Garner sent out a completely different side for the second half and Tomlinson went close to adding goal number four, as did Josh Barrett who saw his effort hit the crossbar.

Tomlinson did score, though, his low volley finding the back of the net on the hour mark. The home side seldom threatened Rovers goal and might have conceded a fifth goal themselves in the closing stages when Jonah Ayunga’s shot was blocked by a packed Manor Farm defence.

(Cam Hargreaves in action at The Creek)

Bristol Rovers

First Half: Anssi Jaakkola, Alfie Kilgour, Max Ehmer, Michael Kelly, Josh Hare, Ed Upson, Tom Mehew, Sam Nicholson, James Daly, Zain Walker, Jonson Clarke-Harris.

Second Half: Jordi van Stappershoef, Mark Little, Cian Harries, Jack Baldwin, Alex Rodman, Luke Leahy, Josh Grant, Cameron Hargreaves, Josh Barrett, Lucas Tomlinson, Jonah Ayunga.

Manor Farm team unknown though it is known that Ben John and Stuart Tovey started the game.

Next up for Garner’s side were Exeter City, who visited a deserted Memorial Stadium on 15th August.

Prior to kick off the teams had agreed to play four 35 minute periods, but the match officials, whoever they were, refused to comply and insisted that the friendly should last the regulation 90 minutes.

Rovers and Exeter got round that by playing a 30 minute game at the end of the 90 minutes, which was refereed by first team coach Kevin Maher and, judging by reports, it appears that those who hadn’t played in the match were given some game time.

The match ended 2-1 in Rovers’ favour, with Cam Hargreaves and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson scoring for Garner’s side and former Rovers defender Tom Parkes on the mark for the Grecians.

(Jayden Mitchell Lawson in action against Exeter)

There were just 90 seconds on the clock when Mitchell-Lawson opened the scoring when he latched on to a cross from Hargreaves and comfortably beat goalkeeper Lewis Ward.

Anssi Jaakkola touched a Ryan Bowman header over the bar before the game became rather a tame affair.

Shortly after the restart (60 seconds to be precise!) Rovers doubled their lead when Hargreaves cut in from the right and hit shot past Ward into the top corner of the net.

Exeter soon reduced the arrears, though, as Parkes volleyed home, via the upright after the ball was deflected into his path off a Rovers defender.

Although they worked hard to get back on level terms and went close on a couple of occasions, Exeter were unable to score again.

Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakola (Jordi van Stappershoef, 61), Mark Little (Josh Hare, 61), Max Ehmer (Alfie Kilgour, 61), Cian Harries (Jack Baldwin, 61), Alex Rodman (James Daly, 61), Luke Leahy (Zain Walker, 61), Josh Grant (Ed Upson, 61), Zain Westbrooke (Triallist, 46), Cameron Hargreaves (Michael Kelly, 61), Jayden Mitchell-Lawson (Sam Nicholson, 46), Jonson Clarke-Harris (Harry Warwick, 61).

Exeter City team unknown, though former Rovers defender Tom Parkes played some part in the game and he scored Exeter’s goal.

It’s also know that Lewis Ward, Jake Caprice, Ryan Bowman, Rory McArdle, Archie Collins, Jake Taylor, Matt Jay, Josh Key, Nicky Law, Pierce Sweeney, Alex Fisher, Joel Randall, Harry Kite, Jonny Maxted, Jordan Dyer, Alex Hartridge, Nicky Ajose and an unnamed triallist all played some part in the match as all are mentioned in the match report.

On 21st August Rovers took on Newport County in a game played at the Football Association of Wales’ Dragon Park.

The outcome was a 1-1 draw, Josh Hare scoring for Rovers and Tristan Abrahams for the Welsh side.

Both goals arrived in the first half with Rovers taking the lead just on the 30 minute mark when a foul on Jonah Ayunga saw Hare take the resulting free kick and direct his effort into the top corner of the net.

Five minutes before half time Newport drew level after Abrahams cut in from the right before firing a shot across goal, beyond Jordi van Stappershoef and into the net.

There were no further goals, though both sides fashioned good chances after the break. For Rovers, Cam Hargreaves saw two efforts well saved by Tom King while at the other end Michael Kelly cleared off the line from David Longe-King and a Newport triallist headed wide of the target.

Bristol Rovers: Jordi van Stappershoef, Mark Little, Cian Harries (Triallist, 46), Michael Kelly, Josh Hare, James Daly, Ed Upson, Triallist (Tom Mehew, 69), Cam Hargreaves, Zain Walker (Lucas Tomlinson, 72), Jonah Ayunga (Sam Heal, 69).

Names of triallists unknown.

Newport County side unknown, though match reports show that David Longe-King, Josh Sheehan, Townsend (G/K Christian name unknown), Matt Dolan, Tristan Abrahams, Lewis Collins, and Tom King (substitute G/K) are all mentioned in the match report.

The following day, 22nd August, Rovers took on Forest Green Rovers at Stanley Park, the Gloucestershire sides training ground and were beaten 4-3.

The first twenty minutes were fairly non eventful but then the home side edged in front when new signing Nicky Cadden beat Anssi Jaakkola with a well taken free kick.

The hosts doubled their lead on 35 minutes when another new signing, Kane Wilson, ran on to a ball over the top and beat Jaakkola with a powerful shot.

Jonson Clarke-Harris pulled a goal back for Ben Garner’s side just before the hour mark with a fine individual goal that saw him lob the ball over the keeper before running the ball into an empty net.

Ebou Adams restored Forest Green’s two goal lead just seven minutes later, with a long range shot but Rovers scored again almost immediately through Zain Westbrooke who slotted home following a cross from Clarke-Harris.

A minute later it was 4-2 to Forest Green after Carl Winchester beat Jaakkola with a 25 yard free kick. The final goal of the game went to Clarke-Harris who powered a left foot free kick into the roof of the net.

Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakola, Jack Baldwin, Alfie Kilgour, Max Ehmer, Luca Hoole, Luke Leahy, Zain Westbrooke (Triallist, 75), Josh Grant (Ed Upson, 46), Sam Nicholson (Lucas Tomlinson, 75), Jayden Mitchell-Lawson (Joe Budd, 78), Jonson Clarke-Harris.

Name of triallist unknown.

Forest Green Rovers side unknown though according to the match report the following players all played a part; Nicky Cadden, Kane Wilson, Ebou Adams, and Carl Winchester.

On 25th August Rovers were in action again, this time against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road where they emerged as 2-0 winners thanks to a goal from a triallist and a penalty converted by Luke Leahy.

The home side went close to scoring on the half hour mark when Reuben Reid’s volley hit the crossbar.

Jonah Ayunga then fired wide of the target for Rovers, while Ben Tozer headed over Anssi Jaakola’s crossbar before the keeper made a routine save from Ben Tozer.

However, it was Rovers who went into the half time break with the lead after scoring in the 45th minute. The goal was created by Sam Nicholson, who played a ball through to the triallist and he calmly stroked the ball past the Cheltenham keeper.

Having made a number of changes at half time, Rovers found themselves under pressure at the start of the second half and Reid was soon testing replacement keeper Jordi van Stappershoef while his opposite number Josh Griffiths touched away Zain Westbrooke’s free kick.

(Max Ehmer in action at Cheltenham)

Twenty minutes from time Rovers were awarded a penalty after Jayden Mitchell-Lawson was tripped inside the area. Leahy confidently beat Griffiths from the resulting spot kick to seal the win, though there might have been a third goal for Rovers when a shot from Mitchell-Lawson in the final minute was only just wide of the mark.

Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola (Jordi van Stappershoef, 46), Max Ehmer (Jack Baldwin, 46), Alfie Kilgour, (Michael Kelly, 46) Cian Harries (Mark Little, 46), Triallist (Luke Leahy, 46), Josh Hare, Zain Westbrooke (Tom Mehew, 46), Ed Upson (Josh Grant, 46), Zain Walker (Cam Hargreaves, 46), Sam Nicholson (Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, 46), Jonah Ayunga (Lucas Tomlinson, 60).

Name of triallist unknown.

Cheltenham Town side unknown, though the following players are mentioned in the match report; Josh Griffiths, Reuben Reid, Will Boyle, Ben Tozer.

The final match of the strangest of pre-season’s came on 28th August when Rovers lost out to Cardiff City at the Memorial Stadium, just two days after selling striker Jonson Clarke-Harris to Peterborough United for £1.25m.

The game consisted of four 35 minute periods and the Welsh side ran out 2-1 winners. Lucas Tomlinson scored for Rovers, while Aden Flint and Robert Glatzel were on target for Cardiff.

The opening 35 minute period was played at quite a high tempo. Kieffer Moore almost gave Cardiff the lead, but saw his effort cleared off the line by Josh Grant, while Sam Nicholson went close with a long range effort for Rovers that drifted just wide of the upright.

Having had an appeal for a penalty turned down following an apparent trip in the area on Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, Rovers went close again when Zain Westbrooke hit a free kick just wide of the target.

(Ed Upson in action against Cardiff)

Both sides created chances in the second period, with Moore twice going close for the visitors and Westbrooke and Mitchell-Lawson both seeing attempts saved by Joe Day.

Both sides made changes at the start of the third period and both continued to probe for an opening. Jonah Ayunga and Josh Hare, in particular, went close for Rovers before former Bristol City defender Flint gave Cardiff an 88th minute lead when he headed past Jordi van Stappershoef following a corner

(Zain Walker in action against Cardiff).

Almost immediately Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal saved well from Hare’s free kick and Rovers did manage to get back on level terms just before the sides prepared themselves for the fourth quarter.

Tomlinson tried his luck from 25 yards out and his effort took a deflection off a Cardiff defender before entering the net beyond the despairing dive of Etheridge.

Ed Upson and Ayunga tested Etheridge as Rovers went in search of a possible winner, but it was the visitors who scored the third and decisive goal. With 15 minutes of the contest remaining, Glatzel fired in from close range after van Stappershoef could only palm a shot from Leandro Bacuna into his path.

There was one final chance for Rovers and it fell to Hare who saw his shot cleared off the line by Sol Bamba.

Bristol Rovers:

First Half: Anssi Jaakkola, Max Ehmer, Jack Baldwin, Michael Kelly, Luke Leahy, Josh Grant, Zain Westbrooke, Mark Little, Cameron Hargreaves, Sam Nicholson, Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.

Second Half: Jordi van Stappershoef, David Tutonda, Cian Harries, Pablo Martinez, Alfie Kilgour, Ed Upson, Tom Mehew, Zain Walker, Josh Hare, Lucas Tomlinson, Jonah Ayunga.

Cardiff lineup unknown, but these players were all mentioned in the match report; players Aden Flint, Robert Glatzel, Kieffer Moore, Joe Day, Neil Etheridge, Sol Bamba and Leandro Bacuna.

Day was a future Rovers goalkeeper while Etheridge was a former Gas goalie.

(all photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman