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