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Archived News from April 2002

6th April 2002 20:36

Staggeringly Poor from Rovers
bristolrovers.co.uk: A very one-sided game at Field Mill this afternoon condemned Rovers to their ninth consecutive away game without a victory, and put Mansfield Town's promotion chase back on track. Garry Thompson made two changes to the side from Monday's win against Kidderminster Harriers, with defender Steve Foster and striker Sergio Ommel returning to the starting eleven in place of injured duo Carlos Lopez and James Quinn. Captain Che Wilson moved across to right-back, while Foster lined-up alongside Mark Foran in the centre of the Pirates defence. Trevor Challis was left-back, and Wayne Carlisle, Ciaran Toner, Drew Shore and Mark McKeever completed the four-man midfield. Ommel was named in attack alongside James Thomas. On the bench there was a surprise inclusion for Justin Richards, with Ryan Clarke, Mark Walters, Mark Smith and Lewis Hogg completing the visitors' allocation of substitutes. Rovers started the game brightly and were knocking the ball to feet with composure early on, until the home side created the first meaningful chance on goal after just five minutes. It came from a Scott Sellars free-kick that was directed on to Scott Howie's post, before fortunately for Rovers, the loose ball that fell to Craig Disley was fired wide of the target from close range.
Mansfield's top scorer Chris Greenacre scuffed a chance from inside Rovers box moments later, and then Martin Pemberton did well to beat Carlisle, but couldn't get his cross beyond the covering Wilson. A run from Disley on the counter-attack picked out an Andy White run down the middle, and his ball across the penalty box to Greenacre was only inches too far forward from being tapped into Howie's net. The home side continued to ask most of the questions as the half continued, and Howie needed to stand firm to prevent the Stags taking a 1-0 lead on the 30-minute mark. It was a ball from Sellars to White, that resulted in a point-blank shot being parried away to the right by the former Reading man. A couple of half chances fell Rovers' way, with a ball from Toner to Thomas only just cut out by Stuart Reddington, and then Toner himself had a crack from 25 yards out that sailed over Kevin Pilkington's crossbar. At the other end a ball forward over the head of White fell to Greenacre who lashed a right-footed shot towards Howie's goal. Luckily for Rovers though, an outstretched leg managed to divert the ball behind for a corner. As the half-time whistle approached Mansfield continued to do most of the pressing, with a Sellars shot blocked by Foran, a Greenacre effort towards the near post saved by Howie, and a White header directed wide of the target.

HALF-TIME: Mansfield Town 0-0 Bristol Rovers

The second half saw a slightly less frantic start than the first, with Rovers controlling their hosts in the early stages with more competence than in the first. Hogg was brought on in place of Shore during the interval, in the only Rovers change from the first 45 minutes. Adam Murray nearly nicked in behind the Rovers defence, but Foster was alert to make a timely interception, and Greenacre could perhaps have done better, with a shot straight into the side netting.
Good play down the left flank between McKeever and Thomas nearly carved out a chance for the on-loan Blackburn Rovers striker, and an early ball into the Mansfield penalty area from out wide earned the visitors a corner after good pressurising from Thomas. Mansfield took a deserved lead on 56 minutes when Murray rifled home a shot from the edge of the Rovers box. The ball fell to him after Greenacre's initial effort had rebounded back, and the shot was directed perfectly between Howie's outstretched arm, and his left post. A McKeever corner to Foran saw a header go wide of the target as Rovers looked to hit back straight away, and then some great play between Carlisle and Ommel warranted a better delivery into the box than was provided by McKeever. Richards was introduced in place of Ommel as Thompson gave the former West Bromwich Albion man his first taste of first team action all season, and almost immediately, he had won his team a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for Rovers though, Carlisle's effort was thumped straight into the Mansfield wall. Richards was in the thick of things again when he won a Toner flick-on in the box, and despite being surrounded by players, he still managed to turn and get a shot in on goal, which was ultimately blocked and cleared. On the counter-attack at the other end, Disley picked out White down the wing, and a perfect cross in towards Greenacre was met with a header that was only narrowly over Howie's goal. Pilkington needed to make a sprawling stop from a low cross after excellent work from McKeever down the left, before at the other end Mansfield doubled their lead to secure all three points. It was a long ball over the top that caught out Foran, and with Howie coming out to try and mop up the danger, White was alert to play the ball over the goalkeeper's head, and into the back of the unguarded net.
It could have been 3-0 almost immediately after, but Greenacre's turn and shot in the box was struck straight at Howie, and the ball was easily gathered up by the Pirates shot-stopper. Substitute David Kelly saw a diving header go wide of Howie's goal after excellent play down the right by Bobby Hassell, and as the match entered the final few minutes, Disley struck an effort from the edge of the box that was only narrowly wide of the goal. Overall it was a disappointing afternoon's work from Rovers, with Pilkington in the Mansfield goal having little to do, and the home side very worthy of all three points.
FULL-TIME: Mansfield Town 2-0 Bristol Rovers


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