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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 15 Nov 14 at 18:30 PM

REPORT: BRISTOL ROVERS 1-1 HARRIERS

Nathan Blissett’s header helped earn a well-fought point for Harriers against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.

Blissett gave his side a second-half lead before substitute Matty Taylor equalised for the hosts late on.

It was testament to Harriers’ performance that Rovers may well have come away feeling fortunate to have claimed a point, as the visitors controlled the game in periods and were good value for their lead.

Harriers remain in 11th place in the Vanarama Conference, but still sit only four points behind today’s opponents who hold onto fourth spot.

Gary Whild made two alterations to the side which lost 2-0 at home to Aldershot Town on Wednesday.

Aman Verma and Jamie Grimes replace Ahmed Obeng and the suspended Jared Hodgkiss as Harriers lined up with three central defenders and two wing-backs in Kevin Nicholson and Marvin Johnson.

Rovers also made two changes after their 0-0 draw at Alfreton Town on Tuesday, as Lyle Della-Verde and Dave Martin come in for Matty Taylor and Daniel Leadbitter.

Blissett, who worked hard and looked sharp all game, gave Harriers the lead after 67 minutes in a similar scenario to both goals at Barnet.

Verma’s long-range effort struck a blue and white shirt on its way out of play to earn Harriers a corner.

From Craig Reid’s subsequent set-piece, Blissett leapt highest to head past Steve Mildenhall and notch his fourth goal of the season.

Rovers began to up the ante as the game entered its final stages, and equalised with just seven minutes left of normal time.

Della-Verde, who was making his first start after joining the Gas on loan from Fulham last week, delivered a cross from the left-hand side and Taylor slid in to guide the ball home at the far post.

Rovers were quick off the mark in the opening 45 minutes and pressuring Harriers’ penalty area inside 60 seconds, a prolonged attack which ended with a foul on Danny Lewis.

Della-Verde thumped a curling strike towards the top right-hand corner after three minutes, which Lewis tipped behind with vigour, before Mark McChrystal tried his luck at the far post four minutes later only to be denied again by Lewis.

After weathering this early Rovers storm and holding out well defensively, Harriers regained composure and started applying some pressure of their own.

Reid headed wide from a smart Nicholson delivery after 12 minutes, before Blissett’s aerial threat had ‘keeper Mildenhall scrambling to claim the ball after fumbling a catch.

The likes of Reid, Matt Robinson and Marvin Johnson were showing plenty of endeavour going forward.

Rovers defender Tom Parkes had to be alert to deny Reid with a great sliding tackle 10 minutes before half time, before Blissett dodged blue and white challenges aplenty to glide into the area and pull the trigger, forcing Mildenhall into a dive to his right.

Reid and Blissett continued to link up well, with the former holding up a pass to release the latter down the left, before surging into the box to almost get onto the end of the following cross.

And, as the interval approached, Tom Lockyer had to head Johnson’s shot off the line. 

The hosts made a double substitution as the second half got underway and Della-Verde remained Rovers’ biggest threat, putting in crosses from the left.

Blissett had two good opportunities to break the deadlock for Harriers around 10 minutes before he actually did so, heading over from a scorching Johnson cross and firing wide after he was picked out by a pinpoint Robinson through ball.

Whild’s men kept up the tempo after taking the lead and almost had a second through Nicholson, whose free-kick would have snuck its way in if not for Mildenhall’s quick reactions.

Meanwhile, Johnson left a Rovers player - who we won’t name to save embarrassment - on the floor after 77 minutes as he drove upfield and cut inside to reach the penalty area, where he shot wide.

By now Rovers boss Darrell Clarke had made three changes, introducing three fresh sets of legs to rejuvenate his side against a Harriers team who were beginning to tire.

They began to show some more urgency and, as Mansell rolled a shot off-target and Taylor clipped the crossbar with a header, the latter snatched an equaliser for the hosts.

The Pirates faithful grew more vocal as the game drew to a close but Harriers stood firm to seal the point, in a game where they performed admirably enough to take all three.

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