Bristol Rovers Women 3 Forest Green Rovers Women 1

6:45pm, Saturday 23rd April 2022
The Memorial Stadium
Friendly

Match Report

I had the pleasure of watching my first Bristol Rovers Women game, held at The Memorial Stadium as part of the #HerGameToo double header.

I cycled home after the Men’s game then returned shortly after with my wife, who was attending her first football match.

Really difficult to estimate the attendance. We were in block C of the East Stand, and blocks A and B were pretty full, there were people sat in the West Stand and a number of people in the North and East terraces. It was at least 500.

Forest Green started brightly, having the better of the opening period and scored following a mix up in defence. A really soft goal to concede.

Any fears that Forest Green were going to run away with the game were dispelled almost immediately as The Gas Girls got into the game quickly. The Gas Girls grew into the game as the half wore on and played some nice possession football, asking questions of the Forest Green defence.

I felt we had the better of the half, having more possession. Both teams look fairly evenly matched though.

0-1 half time.

Second half starts the same, with the Gas Girls attacking. One thing I noticed is that the Gas Girls certainly love to shoot at distance. The Men’s team could probably learn a thing or two…

Despite the Bristol Rovers attacking and greater possession, Forest Green were always a threat, and could easily have scored three or four goals in the second half. They came the closest to scoring on 51 minutes when they hit the post from a shot from the edge of the box.

As the second half progressed, it was looking like we would get no reward for our efforts as Forest Green’s defence refused to be breached.

Just when I thought I was going to watch two Bristol Rovers games in a row with no home goals, the game changed with a moment of brilliance in the 74th minute.

The Gas Girls, attacking the North Terrace, approached the 18 yard box on the left hand side and a skilful one-two with a back heel to set up Annys Turner (11) to open the scoring for The Gas by looping a shot over the keeper. What a moment and thoroughly deserved.

The Gas Girls continued to press forward and took the lead on 83 minutes. Georgia Vandries (7) ran into the 18 yard box and curled the ball around the helpless Forest Green goalkeeper with an exquisite volley with the outside of her right foot. A quality finish. The Gas Girls take the lead at The Mem!

We had late drama as Forest Green earn a penalty on 87 minutes following a clumsy challenge.

Briony Lomas (13) had only recently come on in place of Betty Platt (1) and she became an instant hero by saving the penalty. That resulted in rapturous scenes in the East Stand. Good stuff! Come on!

Throughout the course of the second half, The Gas Girls made a large number of substitutions, which allowed the squad to all get match time which was nice. A side effect of this, though, was that there was confusion at times towards the end, and Forest Green had a number of late golden chances to equalise. They failed to take these chances though, which was a relief.

Forest Green went down to ten players right at the end after a professional foul prevented a one-on-one goal attempt. No complaints there. Cheerio!

Libby Bell (10) went off injured right at the end of the game after a nasty challenge in midfield. She managed to limp off and the stretcher was called for. I hope she is ok.

One of the many substitutes, Gift Ihejieto (18) sealed the victory deep into injury time to send the watching Gas home happy!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Gas Girls game, was impressed with the quality of the goals and the overall play. It was refreshing to see a complete lack of play acting, time wasting and trying to get players booked / sent off. It was like football used to be.

It was a really good team performance, with positive contributions all over the pitch. The team was well organised, you can see why this team have been champions for three years in succession.

Stand out players for me were (In no particular order):

Katie Davies (2)
Katie Rawlings (4)
Anna Hubble (6)
Georgia Vandries (7)
Libby Bell (10)
Annys Turner (11)
Layah Douglas (12)
Kelly Cutler (14)

Both goalkeepers Betty Platt (1) & Briony Lomas (13) played their part in keeping the scoreline down.

I went home happy after my long day at The Mem. The Gas Girls did much to take my mind off the earlier disappointment following the Men’s game. I will be watching more games in the future.

I think the performance today bodes well for next season in the South West Regional Women’s Football League Premier Division.

UTGG

Bristol Rovers 0 Forest Green Rovers 0

3pm, Saturday 23rd April 2022
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Match Report

Forest Green earn the point they require to secure promotion as both sides have to settle for a goalless draw in a feisty end of season promotion clash.

A bitterly, bitterly disappointing result in what was a must win game for us. It felt to me like our key players were just not on their game today and we did not do ourselves justice against arguably the best side in this division.

On a positive note (which is really hard), we gained a point which secures our 5th position and keeps us in control of our own destiny with regards to the playoffs. Somehow we are still in touch of third position, although it is looking unlikely now.

All we can do is beat Rochdale and Scunthorpe, and then hope that the footballing gods are on our side. Stranger things have happened..

Back to the game, at the full time whistle I was disappointed but felt that we were fortunate to get the draw. Forest Green had a number of golden opportunities to score and they really should have done. Once again, player of the season James Belshaw earned us yet another point. Where would we be without him? 12th probably.

I left immediately on the final whistle, so did not witness the idiots on the pitch. I can understand the enthusiasm of the Forest Green supporters, but that does not justify spilling onto the pitch. I am also annoyed that a number of our supporters went to meet them. We really, really do not need any attention from the authorities given our past history with pitch invasions.

Fair play to Forest Green, they have earned their promotion by being consistent all season. We will meet them again. Can’t say that I was impressed with the language of their chants during the game, or their behaviour afterwards. Not impressed at all!

On to Rochdale, a potential banana skin that we must avoid. Three points is a must!

Bristol Rovers 1 Salford City 0

3pm, Saturday 15th April 2022
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Match Review

What a glorious sunny day in Horfield. The Long cold winter has been way too long. The pitch looks immaculate, and The Mem is pretty full.

Really nice to see Gasheads stood opposite me in the old away terrace. The small number of Salford City fans in the east end of the South Stand certainly looked rammed in there, surrounded by noisy Gasheads.

Wonderful noisy fans at The Mem, for the first time I can remember we had singing STARTING in the South Stand. There was a piece of audio heaven for a while, with Irene being sung from the South Stand, then continued from the North Terrace, and back again. Our beloved song reverberated around The Mem in perfect panoramic stereo.

On to the game.

I felt Salford City played really well actually, and for large periods of the game stifled our normal possession game. The first half, especially, they contained us very well and were effective going forward.

It required an alert James Belshaw and a strong referee to keep Salford City at bay. They had at least one decent shout for a penalty. A soft penalty, but they have been given…

Salford were a very good looking side, attacking with pace and an effective aerial attack. We did very well not to concede, a testament to the quality of our defensive unit.

Only Josh Grant struggled defensively, but I like Josh and he adds more going forward. Salford City prevented Josh from making his usual runs up the wing, exposing his weaknesses.

The first half was fairly even in the end, with Salford City the happier going into the break.

I felt we did much better in the second half, and we were able to dominate possession and settled into our normal game which then started asking Salford City questions.

As we approached the last twenty minutes, the game was balanced on a knife edge, in a situation where a draw was no good for either team.

As always this season with this team, they never give up and you hoped that a late winner would come. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Up steps boy wonder Elliot Anderson with another individual effort to send The Mem into an explosion of limbs and noise. Oh, that goal felt so good!!!!!!

I was slightly uncomfortable with the confrontation between the home fans and the away fans in the South Stand following the goal. Fully understandable, it was a super emotional occasion. Fair play to Salford City, their fans did not bite. Another set of visiting fans could have had a different outcome.

Something for the club to think about, I guess. The segregation zone was minimal. I like the fact that the away fans are limited to the east part of the South Stand.

Massive, massive three points for us, which just about keeps us on the tail of Port Vale. If we can win there on Monday then the automatics are on.

Happy, happy days. UTG!

Tranmere Rovers 1 Bristol Rovers 1

Saturday 9th April 2022
Prenton Park
League Two

Match Review

The Gas are held to a draw against fellow playoff contenders Tranmere Rovers which keeps the playoff dream alive. Both teams could have won the game but a draw was probably the fair result. A good away point for The Gas.

The last seven days confirms to me that we are not finishing strongly enough to challenge for an automatic promotion place, yes I know that anything can happen and there will be twists and turns in the remainder of the run in, but our winning form needed to continue in order for us to realistically grab third place.

To be in a playoff position after the truly awful start that we had is very impressive. We need to keep our nerve and finish the job and secure the playoff position. Our lack of goals seems to be holding us back right now. We are dominating games but not taking advantage of the periods within a game where we dominate. Hopefully this can be rectified next season, as we are very close to being a perfect League Two promotion team.

For me, the dream of promotion is still very much alive and we have an excellent opportunity. We have five more cup finals and you never know…

Bristol Rovers 2 Bradford City 1

3pm, Saturday 2nd April 2022
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Match Report

Bristol Rovers overcame a resilient Bradford City side to keep their automatic playoff hopes alive for another week. Goals from Sam Finley and Connor Taylor won the game for The Gas. Rovers are 5th in the league table, level on points with third placed Port Vale.

The game started at a cracking pace, with Rovers making all the early action. Lots of possession in dangerous areas but with no end product.

As the half wore on, Bradford City got back into the game and were starting to exert some pressure of their own, but never looked likely to score.

Sam Finley had an excellent game, full of energy and creativity. He was at the heart of everything going forward an quite rightly earned the man of the match award. He was excellent.

Trevor Clarke struggled all game at left back, but this was not surprising given the lack of match time. He was solid enough and make some positive contributions. Hopefully the match time will do him good.

Sam Nicholson chased everything as always, and linked up with Sam Finley well but was fairly quiet overall today.

Elliot Anderson had a quiet first half, but was his usual excellent self in the second half, unlucky not to get on the scoresheet when he was fouled whilst through on goal. Despite being held, he got his shot away was was off balance.

The defence were solid all game, Hoole looks assured, Taylor and Connolly were rocks as always. Belshaw had very little to do all game.

Collins led the line well, and was unlucky not to score today. His best chance came in the second half when clear on goal but was then taken out in a classic professional foul. We were all surprised when the Bradford player got away with a yellow. Looked a clear red from where I was. Collins also missed a couple of half chances which would have put this game to bed. On another day we would have won this game 3-0.

Rovers were much better in the second half, and once Bradford got their freak goal right on kickoff, it was mostly all Rovers. I think most people in the stadium missed the goal. I only saw it after the net had bulged. That was not the start to the second half that we wanted. Luckily, this Rovers team has character and fights right to the final whistle.

Luke Thomas made a really good impact off the bench, he caused lots of problems down the right.

Lovely goal by Sam Finley, excellent finish. I can’t wait to see that one again! We certainly have been blessed with some quality goals this season!

The winner came from a scrambled goal by Connor Taylor from a set piece on the left side, really pleased for him getting his second goal for The Gas. Worrying few minutes for him with his chest problem afterwards. Glad to see he could continue. I hope he is ok.

The game was fairly comfortable in the end, we managed to see the game out with no late drama. We deserved to win. Dominated possession and chances. It was a professional performance and exactly what was needed.

Three points gained, we are still in the hunt for playoffs / automatic promotion. On to Tranmere and another cup final.