Category: BRFC Men

Bristol Rovers 2 Hartlepool United 0

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

Preview

The Gas are back in league action again, following the cup defeat last Saturday. We are in a new calendar year, and now is the time that the team need to push on and show everybody that Bristol Rovers can mount a promotion push. The players have had a long break and a few players have returned from injury, so there can be no excuses from now on. We need to be consistently winning games and moving positively up the league table. At the start of the season promotion was the goal and that is still achievable, even given the poor first half of the season.

With that background, it is critical that we win the game against Hartlepool United on Saturday. They are in a similar league position to us, having only gained two extra points so far this season. Nothing less than three points will be acceptable and I am looking forward to a good and positive match.

Prediction

3-0 to The Gas. The perfect way to kick start our 2022 league promotion push!

Match Review

The Gas come away with all three points in a game largely dominated by Hartlepool, who will be asking themselves how they managed to lose the game. The answer was James Belshaw, who put in a Man Of The Match performance to deny at least three Hartlepool goals. He was simply outstanding. Such a good keeper!


If it was not for James Belshaw we would have lost this game 3-0 and the conversation this evening would be very different.


Hartlepool deserved to win this game comfortably, we had no right to take all three points today. For 80 minutes we witnessed a disjointed, flat performance. We looked like a group of strangers, very much like the early part of the season. It was very much looking like yet another draw, but this team have something about them and keep fighting to the end.


Two late goals and we all go home with smiles on our faces. Exactly what we needed today. Poor performance but I do not care. We have another three points and the long climb up the table has begun.

UTG.

Peterborough United 2 Bristol Rovers 1

3pm, Saturday 8th January 2022
London Road
FA Cup Round Three

Preview

I have waited to the very last minute to write this preview, as we have had so many games postponed due to a Covid breakout in the Bristol Rovers camp. Even as I write this on Saturday morning, I am not 100% confident that the game will go ahead.

It has been so long since The Gas were last in action. 11th December 2021 to be exact. That 4-2 victory over Rochdale seems a million miles away and very much a distant memory.

The long awaited FA Cup third round clash with championship Peterborough United is now finally upon us. Not the glamour tie that we were hoping for, but Peterborough in many ways are example of a club that we should aspire to emulate. They have always appeared to be a well organised club as long as I can remember, and fully deserve their place in the championship, however long this current stay will be. Even if they get relegated, it would not be a surprise to see them back in the Championship within five years. Oh how us Gasheads would love to be in that position!

On to the game. Peterborough are clearly a much better side that Bristol Rovers, so avoiding a defeat will be a huge task this afternoon. The only potential hope is that Peterborough may be fielding a weakened side due to Covid / injuries. Even so, it will require a massive effort. Hopefully the boys will be up to the challenge an make it an entertaining game.

Prediction

3-1 – FA Cup heartbreak for The Gas.

Match Review

The Gas exit the FA Cup at the third round stage with a good performance against Championship Peterborough.

Rovers kept attacking right up to the end of the game and gave a good account of themselves. There were chances towards the end of the game to take the cup tie to extra time, but it sounded like Peterborough had the better chances over the course of the game and probably deserved to go through.

This was not the one-sided affair that it could have been, and Rovers were in no way outclassed by their Championship opponents.

Now it is time to concentrate on the league and the push for a playoff place. Promotion for our football club is critical and has to be the goal for the remainder of the season.

Bristol Rovers 4 Rochdale 2

3pm, Saturday 11th December 2021
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Preview

The Gas welcome Rochdale to The Memorial Stadium for a mid-table League Two clash.

Rochdale sit one position ahead of Bristol Rovers, with a single point separating the two teams. Both teams are on a run of poor form so this on paper would look like a very probable draw.

After the positive performance against Port Vale whilst playing with less players, I am hopeful that The Gas can repeat the performance and come away with a win on Saturday. It is getting to the point in the season where teams with promotion aspirations (i.e. us) should be kicking on and moving positively up the table. I feel if we are still in this position by the end of January then that will be our season done.

Match Report

The Gas win a highly entertaining six-goal match in dramatic fashion. Rochdale gave a good account of themselves and will be disappointed not to have got something from the match. In truth, this should have been a comfortable win for The Gas, who were excellent at times.

The first half started brightly with Rochdale creating the early chances, forcing Belshaw into making another one of his customary one-on-one saves.

By the tenth minute, though, Bristol Rovers began to exert pressure and were rewarded by a free kick in a central position just outside the box after some fine footwork by Aaron Collins. Anthony Evans stepped up and calmly placed the free kick in the top right corner, sparking a Gas explosion. A beautiful finish and the perfect way to start the game!

The remainder of the first half was all Bristol Rovers, and we really should have been two or three goals up at the break. It was only 1-0 though, and Rochdale were still in the game.

Really enjoyable first half, lots of goal action. very positive performance. They only thing missing was the second or third goal to finish Rochdale off. We really do need to take advantage of periods where we dominate.

Bristol Rovers got the crucial second goal after 51 minutes, with a trademark Aaron Collins strike from outside the area. The move began down the left side, with Collins running at the Rochdale defence. he jinked inside and let fly with a stunning curved shot to the Rochdale top right corner. Their goalkeeper had no chance. At this point, The Gas were cruising and looking like taking all three points in emphatic style.

Rochdale, though, had other ideas and sprung to life. The remainder of the second half was a much more even affair, with Rochdale having a lot of possession and creating wave after wave of attack. Why they waited until they were two goals down before attacking is beyond me, they looked really dangerous.

Belshaw once again played his part with a series of excellent saves, including a wonder goal line save on 55 minutes. I seem to say this every week, he is an excellent keeper.

Rochdale stuck on the hour mark with a soft goal, from a cross on the right side. The Rochdale attacker pulled off a cheeky flick from two yards with his right foot as the ball passed behind him. Belshaw had no chance and it was game on again.

Five minutes later the unthinkable happened and the game was level, following a penalty to Rochdale. The foul was on the left side of the box, on the other side of the pitch from me. From my viewpoint it did look like a penalty. Just a badly timed tackle. For the next fifteen minutes, it was all Rochdale and there was only one side looking like winning the game, and it was not us. We were sitting deep, inviting Rochdale on to us and failing to keep possession during a worrying scrappy period of the game.

With the game entering the final stages, I was starting to think about writing how another two points have been dropped, so typical of this season, etc, when the game exploded into life again. Two goals in five minutes from Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins turned a sour point into a happy days victory! Amazing scenes at the North Terrace end with what I assume was Aaron Collins being lifted onto some Gashead’s shoulders. Happy days indeed!

I really like the look of Collins and Nicolson up front, with Evans just behind. They press, are mobile and work well together. Coutts and Whelen were solid in the centre of midfield. Our new-look defense struggled at times, although I like Luca Hoole a lot and thought he did well at times.

The Gas go home happy in the end, we sure do like to make life difficult for ourselves! Today’s win takes us up to 15th position in the table, seven points off the playoffs.

Pink sky above The Mem

Bristol Rovers 1 Port Vale 2

7:45pm, Tuesday 7th December 2021
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Preview

The Gas welcome former manager and Gas Legend Darrell Clarke and his high-flying Port Vale team to the Memorial Stadium this evening. I am looking forward to giving Darrell a very warm welcome, as is fitting for all that he has done for Bristol Rovers.

Port Vale are eleven positions above The Gas in the league table but they only have nine more points that us, which is an indication of how tight this league is. If we can stop dropping points then we would fly up the table.

Both teams have mixed form, and Port Vale are in the middle of a mini-slump so this may prove to be a good time to face them. I understand they are going through a bit of an injury crisis at the moment. We need to capitalise on that and take all three points this evening, but it will be a tough game.

Match Report

The Gas put in a decent performance against a lively looking Port Vale team, but were denied any real chance of victory this evening by a sending off in either half. Port Vale take all three points despite a gutsy performance in what were terrible conditions at times.

I cannot fault the desire, commitment and effort of the ten / nine men. They gave everything and much credit must be given for the second half performance.

After the sending off in the first half, it was all Port Vale, and we could consider ourselves fortunate to only be two goals down. The sending off visibly shook the team, and they lost their heads for twenty minutes, during which time we conceded two goals. They appeared to regain their composure towards the end of the first half, then gave it a real go in the second half. After the goal by Aaron Collins, the momentum had swung and even being down to ten men, a fightback was on the cards.

Just when you felt that the game had turned, Harries gets sent off for a high boot just outside the area. You can see why the referee gave it, Harries had completely misjudged the bounce of the ball and the foot was high with the player through on goal. Definitely a yellow, arguably a red.

From that point, the game was lost. Even so, we continued to press forward and create chances.

10 / 10 for effort and sheer refusal to give up. This team certainly fight right to the end.

I will need to see the Finley incident again, it was either an incredibly stupid thing for Finley to do or the linesman bought the theatrics of the Port Vale player. I was sat twenty yards away and did not see it (I was following the ball going forward). I saw the Port Vale player collapsing like he had been shot. If it was an off the ball headbutt, then the sending off was justified.

Either way, Port Vale looked like a decent side but we matched them despite everything that went on. With eleven players, I feel we could have won the game. This season is in danger of becoming one that got away. We are good enough to have a decent crack at promotion, but all these dropped points and “bad luck” are ruining any chance that we have.

It was really good to see the warm reception that Darrell Clarke got. He was treated with the respect that was due.

I have just warmed up and am looking forward to Rochdale on Saturday. We really need to win that one…

Rainbow Corner Flags And The Mem Under The Lights

Bristol Rovers 2 Sutton United 1

3pm, Saturday 4th December 2021
The Memorial Stadium
FA Cup Second Round

Preview

Back to FA Cup action for The Gas, after their dramatic extra time victory against Oxford United in round one. They face Sutton United in the first meeting of these two clubs. Sutton United are one of many teams in the London area, and are enjoying their first season in League Two having being crowned National League champions last season.

Sutton United are ten positions and nine points ahead of Bristol Rovers and must be seen as favourites going into the game.

The prize awaiting one of these two teams is a potentially lucrative third round tie against a Premier League team, and one that both teams will want to win.

I am quietly confident that we will win on Saturday and progress to the second round.

Match Report

The Gas progress to the third round of the FA Cup after a comeback victory against Sutton United. A game of two halves, with Sutton having the better of the first half and Rovers dominating the second.

The first half ended 0-0 as both sides struggle to find an opening goal. Sutton United had the better of the first half but the game remained open.

The game exploded into life with three goals in eight minutes early in the second half.

Sutton United begin the scoring by taking the lead after 52 minutes. At this point in the game they deserve their lead.

The Gas responded almost instantly with a penalty won by Sam Nicholson and calmly converted by Aaron Collins, who got his second goal for Bristol Rovers.

A couple of minutes later saw The Gas take the lead with a headed goal from Nick Anderton and the momentum swung in our favour.

The second half was all Bristol Rovers, who dominated after going a goal behind and ran out deserved winners.

Now we look forward to the third round draw, where the top two divisions enter the competition. Bring on the third round draw!

Forest Green Rovers 2 Bristol Rovers 0

3:00pm, Saturday 27th November 2021
The New Lawn
League Two

Preview

The Gas travel to League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers, in only the fourth meeting between these two clubs. These four games took place during the 2014/2015 season in the National League, twice in the league campaign and twice in the playoffs. The record is P4 W2 D1 L1 for The Gas.

Forest Green Rovers have been the form team in the division all season. They have only lost twice this season, have 37 points and a goal difference of 18. Compare that record to Bristol Rovers (23 points and -5 goal difference), and you would be very brave to be expecting anything other than a home win this afternoon.

Fortunately for The Gas, this is football and anything can happen. A draw would be a fantastic result for us, but I am fully expecting a defeat today.

Aaron Collins will be looking to bag a goal (or two) against his old club today.

Match Report

The unbeaten run comes to an end with a two goal defeat at Forest Green Rovers. A goal in either half, including a penalty when playing against ten men. We can have no complaints today, we were beaten by a much better team who look destined for promotion. The Gas drop to 16th in the table.

Forest Green started the game the brighter side, creating some good chances and took the lead after 24 minutes. As the first half progressed, Forest Green piled on the pressure. This game looks to be lost already, unless Bristol Rovers can find a defensive answer to the Forest Green attack.

Forest Green hit the bar and Bristol Rovers had a chance cleared off the line.

Forest Green have dominated the first half in terms of chances (8 to 2), but Bristol Rovers end the half strongly. There was still hope at this point, as Forest Green have not taken their chances. Possession has been fairly even (54% to 46%).

The first half ends 1-0. I think we would have been happy with that, as we were still in the game.

The second half was more positive for Bristol Rovers, having more possession and leveling up the shots on goal. Forest Green Rovers also had a player sent off and played the final thirty minutes with ten men. Bristol Rovers, once again fail to take advantage of the extra man and once again conceded a goal when playing against a weakened opposition.

This game highlights the gap between serious promotion candidates and where we are at the moment. At this point in the season, we have stabilised following last season’s relegation. There should not be a second successive relegation (which is excellent news), but also an immediate return to League One is also looking unlikely.

Salford City 1 Bristol Rovers 1

7:45pm, Tuesday 23rd November 2021
Moor Lane
League Two

Preview

The Gas travel to the outskirts of Manchester for our first ever meeting with Salford City, who are famously partly owned by a number of former Manchester United players. Following the change of ownership, Salford City subsequently quickly moved up through the non-league system over a five year period, culminating in promotion to League Two in 2019.

Salford City currently lie in sixteenth position in League Two, two places and two points behind The Gas. Both teams have similar form over the last five games, with Bristol Rovers having won one more game than Salford City.

This is another opportunity for The Gas to move up the league table, but like Saturday vs Tranmere Rovers, this will be a tricky game. I feel that a point is achievable but we should be looking to try to take all three points.

Match Report

The Gas earn a valuable away point at Salford. Playing against nine men we would have hoped for an away win so this feels like two points dropped. We are now unbeaten in three so there are positives. UTG

Bristol Rovers started the game strongly and are rewarded with an early goal! Sam Nicholson scores in the fourteenth minute. We appear to be starting games really well, can we keep the performance up for the whole ninety minutes?

Salford City go down to ten men after a reckless challenge on Sam Finley. This is now a game that we really have to win.

The first half ends 1-0 to Bristol Rovers. So far, so good. Rovers have dominated possession and had the greater number of chances at the break.

Belshaw suffers a cut to the head following a collision with a Salford player after what should have been stopped earlier as the player was offside. This has added a lengthy delay to the second half and injected some unwanted drama into the game. Belshaw was able to continue, which is a relief.

We are struggling to build on our goal lead and the extra man. How often do we struggle playing against ten men?

The game is slightly nervy with ten minutes (probably twenty minutes with added on time) to go. We need to concentrate for the remainder of the game and manage the game to bring all three points home.

Salford go down to nine men at the end of normal time and then promptly go on a rare attack and equalise. Why oh why can we not play against teams with less players than us? Ridiculous!

Two points lost! That’s really annoying. We dominated that game!

Salford finish the stronger and manage to scrape a draw from a game they had no right to get anything from. Fair play to Salford, who overcame the odds and will go home the happier of the two sets of fans.

Another away point, I would have taken that before the game. The unbeaten run now extended to three games.

UTG!

Bristol Rovers 2 Tranmere Rovers 2

3pm, Saturday 20th November 2021
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Preview

After the cup drama of Tuesday evening, The Gas are back in league action on Saturday with the visit of Tranmere Rovers to the Memorial Stadium.

Difficult one this for supporters, as the usual “Come On Rovers” does not really work in this case…

The Gas will be looking to build on their recent good form and continue to rise up the League Two table. Both teams are mid-table, with Tranmere Rovers two places above The Gas in 12th position, having gained one point more. A win for either team would see them closing in on the coveted playoff positions.

These teams last met during the 2019/2020 season, during which Tranmere Rovers got relegated to League Two. The games ended with a draw and a win for The Gas. The meeting before that was in 2014 and ended in defeat for The Gas in the FA Cup First Round.

Tranmere are on a three game losing streak, so this is a good opportunity for Bristol Rovers to take all three points. I am very hopeful for a home win this weekend.

Match Report

Two points dropped as The Gas let slip a comfortable two goal lead. It was a game of two halves, with Bristol Rovers having the better of the first half and Tranmere Rovers dominating the second half. The Gas had chances to win the game, with an open goal missed right at the end.

The game started perfectly for The Gas, with a goal within the first five minutes. Josh Grant rose to head The Gas in front, the perfect delivery met with the perfect finish. The Gas made it 2-0 with a goal from a corner on the left side, slotted home from within six yards by Sam Nicholson.

Tranmere Rovers pulled a goal back with their only chance in the first half, a hopeful cross was not dealt with and the Tranmere player managed to drag the ball back and place it round James Belshaw.

James Belshaw made a superb save just before half time to ensure that The Gas went into the break in the lead.

The feeling at this point was that the game was fully in control, and it was only a matter of time before we would score again. Alas, that did not happen and the second half was largely dominated by Tranmere Rovers who managed to keep us pegged back inside our own half for large periods of the half.

Approaching the hour mark, Bristol Rovers have taken their foot of the Gas. inviting Tranmere Rovers on to them. They need to step up the tempo and play with a sense of urgency.

With fifteen minutes to go, the Tranmere pressure paid off as the visitors equalised.

The match ended 2-2 with both teams having chances in the last few minutes to win the game. The move of the game resulted in Sam Nicholson with a golden opportunity to take all three points with a clear shot on goal from twelve yards. Unfortunately, the shot was dragged wide.

Another point gained and a reasonable performance from The Gas. I felt that this game was there for the taking and it feels like two points dropped. Still, four points out of the last two games is a good return and something to build upon. We are only four points off the playoffs so there is everything to play for and the team are performing much better than they were one month ago.

UTG.

Bristol Rovers 1 Oxford United 1 (4-3 aet)

7pm, Tuesday 16th November 2021
The Memorial Stadium
FA Cup First Round (Replay)

Preview

After the thrilling 2-2 draw in the previous game, The Gas welcome Oxford United to the Memorial Stadium for what promises to be an exciting evening of cup football under the lights.

Our visitors, Oxford United remain in sixth position in League One, and will be difficult opponents for The Gas once again. Their biggest threat is ex-Bristol Rovers forward Matty Taylor, who scored in the previous game. We will need to keep him quiet if we are to stand any chance of progression in this competition.

The Gas will be high in confidence following their excellent victory against League Two promotion candidates Northampton Town on Saturday, and will be looking to carry the momentum to Tuesday evening and beyond. I feel we are in a good place right now and will give Oxford a good match.

The reward for the winner is a home tie in the FA Cup Second Round against Sutton United.

Match Review

Bristol Rovers proceed to the second round of the FA Cup with a breaktaking emotional victory over Oxford United after an extra time thriller. Goals from Sam Finley<COMMA> Sion Spence x2 and a debut goal for Aaron Collins won this classic cup tie. The magic of the FA Cup is alive and kicking!

Wow! Just wow!

I don’t have the words to write a match report, I am just so overwhelmed with the emotion of it all.

That match had everything. I don’t think anybody in the stadium had anything left in the tank come the end, everything was left on the pitch. The team and us Gasheads gave everything. My throat is going to be so sore tomorrow morning 🙂

Oxford battered us for large periods of the game, but we dug deep and hung in there.

The Finley goal looked epic from my view in the South West Stand, Finley won the ball just in front of me, passed to Anderson who laid it off for Evans who then crossed for Finley to finish. Beautiful.

I felt we were good value for our 1-0 lead. Then Oxford got a soft penalty, and it was inevitable that Taylor was going to score.

1-1 was a good result for us, seeing as we absorbed a lot of pressure. Evans had what I thought was the winning goal right at the end, but the bulge of the net failed to happen.

At the end of normal time, that was a really good cup tie. I had no idea of the excitement that was to follow.

I honestly thought it was all over when Oxford scored two right at the start of extra time. The whole of the Memorial Stadium felt the same right before Spence scored his first. The ten minutes of quiet crowd instantly changed and the belief came flooding back. The Mem erupted and the tide had turned.

The final twenty minutes of that game were unlike any other I can remember for a long time. Oxford still kept battering us, but we suddenly had an effective counter attack game, and we punished them. First Aaron Collins chose the perfect time to open his goalscoring account for The Gas by scoring the equaliser and then Sion Spence dramatically won the game, just as penalties were looming.

Every single player on that pitch earned that victory. There was passion, commitment, desire, skill. Everything.

I don’t actually remember anything about the extra time goals, I will have to watch the highlights. For me, all I remember is celebrating goals like I have not done since Browner’s Left Foot sent us up from this division.

The scenes at the North end looked outstanding. I could see the limbs and the pitch invasion from a distance.

Ok, I did end up writing a match report.

Bring on Sutton United in the second round!

Saturday and Tranmere Rovers cannot come quick enough. It is fun being a Gashead again. It has been far too long…

UTG

Bristol Rovers 2 Northampton Town 1

3pm, Saturday 13th November 2021
The Memorial Stadium
League Two

Preview

The Gas welcome the visit of Northampton Town, who like Bristol Rovers got relegated from League One last season.

This will be another challenging afternoon, as Northampton Town are currently in third position in League Two, only four points from top position and are strong contenders for an instant return to League One. The Gas, on the other hand, are stuttering in sixteenth position. Northampton Town are on a great run of form, having won their last four league games and they would expect to extend that run to five games this afternoon.

Our home form has been extremely poor so far this season, our best results and performances have come away from home. The form book would suggest an easy win for the visitors, with a draw being a good result for The Gas. I feel that every team in this division is beatable, and if we can get ourselves organised at the back and attack Northampton then we could come away with all three points. Here’s hoping!

Match Review

The Gas put on a dominant performance over high-flying Northampton Town to take all three points in a highly entertaining match. This game had everything, and went right down to the wire.

Northampton Town took the lead after thirty nine minutes after being awarded a penalty. Connor Taylor was judged to have tripped the Northampton Town player. It looked soft to me, but I was watching from the other end of the ground. This was very much against the run of play, with Rovers creating a number of excellent chances and did not deserve to go in behind at half time.

The second half continued where the first half left off, with Bristol Rovers pressing Northampton and continuing to attack. The game was won with two goals in five minutes just before the hour mark. Josh Grant capped an excellent performance with a well worked goal, followed four minutes later by the winner from Anthony Evans. Both goals being scored in front of the ecstatic North Terrace.

Northampton Town pressed to snatch an equaliser at the end, but were thwarted by a superb goal line clearance by Connor Taylor. The Gas held on to secure a much deserved three points.

I felt we were the better team throughout the game, and thoroughly deserved to win.

Josh Grant was superb, fully deserved his goal and man of the match. Dangerous on the left side of the park, full of energy and creativity.

Connor Taylor was magnificent at the back as always. Fantastic goal-line clearance to seal the three points right at the death. He was unfortunate with the penalty, looked soft from the South West stand.

James Belshaw with his usual excellent performance in goal.

Sam Nicholson ran his socks off.

Glenn Whelen had a good game, what excellent distribution he has. Superb balls out to Grant. Felt his sending off was a bit harsh, was a wild sliding tackle though.

This was a superb team performance, you could really see the hunger and desire out there.

Finally, it was so good to hear The Mem loud again today, the atmosphere was rocking.

There have been many trips to The Mem that have been painful to watch, and so far this season has been disappointing. Today was a good day, and I really, really needed that!

Tonight feels good to be a Gashead.

UTG.