Sunday, 29 April 2012

5-1 (H) Accrington Stanley - Another rampant display

A lethal and polished home performance from Bristol Rovers saw them end their home campaign on a high

After hitting Burton Albion for seven last time at the Mem, Rovers fans were hoping for a repeat performance in a mid-table end of season clash, with both sides having nothing to play for apart from 3 points and pride.
     The blustery conditions made for a surprisingly cold end of season affair, with an action packed first half. In recent games Rovers' Mustapha Carayol has been the stand out player, and his fine form continued; within just a few minutes Carayol drove past the fullback and hit a low cross on two occassions, but it was Accrington Stanley who very nearly took the lead against the run of play when a deep cross rocked the cross bar in the 8th minute. Carayol opted on his third run of the afternoon for an early cross, finding Matt Harrold who dispatched a thumping header to make it 1-0 inside 11 minutes. Once again Carayol's runs caused all sorts of problems for the Stanley defence, this time beating two men before being bundled to the ground by an Accrington Stanley defender. Matt Harrold stepped up, and as he did in the 7-1 demolition of Burton, dispatched the penatly with confidence. This time however opting for placement over power; the spot kick narrowly passing the keepers outstretched arms. Few could be forgiven for thinking of another 7 goal thumping. Matt Harrold was the focul point of all Bristol Rovers attacks, linking cleverly with Eliot Richards and Mustapha Carayol on numerous occassions. Harrold turned provider for the third by chipping in a weighted cross which was met by Andy Dorman's weak foot giving Rovers a first half 3 goal lead. Stanley looked like a team well into their summer holiday, barely touching the ball as Rovers dominated proccedings. The Accrington's fans' costumes were more exciting and interesting to watch than the first team squad, and Rovers nearly made it four when Carayol's corner was headed powerfully by Aaron Downes only to be tipped expertly onto the crossbar by the Stanley goalkeeper. The only way Accrington looked like scoring was from a moment of magic or a Rovers' mistake, and it was the latter that denied Rovers the clean sheet when a Stanley corner wasn't dealt with by Scott Bevan, ending up in the far corner of his net. The goal swung the games' momentum in Accrington's favour, Amond almost giving Accrington a way back into the match when he took it past Rovers' keeper Bevan only to see his tame effort cleared of the line by Aaaron Downes.
     Stanley started the second half in the way they ended the first, on the offensive. A counter attack from Accrington stretched the opposition backline; Rovers' had Bevan to thank as he saved a strong point blank header from Accrington's Padraig Amond. Accrington later would rue the missed chances when a tricky run from Mustapha Carayol resutled in Matthew Lund's first Rovers goal coming from a tap in off Carayol's cross. The cherry on the cake was added when Wayne Brown seemed to have been clossed down well, yet somehow manaed to cross the ball into the edge of the area, via a dummy from Matt Harrold, Lund finished comfortably collecting his second goal of the game and Rovers' fifth of the afternoon.
     Rovers' showed precision and a touch of class on numerous occassions this afternoon and gave hope that next season a promotion push will be on the cards, ending the home campaign with 12 goals from the final two home games.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

7-1 Burton Albion (H) - Absolute Annihilation

Bristol Rovers ended a run of 5 games without a win by emphatically beating Burton Albion 7-1.

The game started brightly with both teams having large spells of possession, the first chance coming when a through ball to Richards was only cleared to Matt Harrold who, on the bounce, hit his bouncing shot narrowly past the post after 23 minutes. At times Burton were allowed too much time on the ball in advanced attacking positions, but it was from a long goal kick that Burton’s first goal scoring chance came. Rovers’ Cian Bolger allowed the ball to bounce through to keeper Scott Bevan but Burton’s Jimmy Phillips intercepted the ball, taking it past the keeper, and with the goal gaping somehow only managed to fire straight against the woodwork sparing the blushes of the Rovers centre back. Minutes before half time a quick free kick to Mustapha Carayol enabled the Gambian winger to power an effort from 30 yards out which looked like a routine save but for the swerve of the ball causing all sorts of problems for Ross Atkins who fumbled the ball into the net gifting Bristol Rovers a narrow lead heading into the break.
          The game sparked to life after half time, within seconds a missed clearance from Burton allowed Eliot Richards a chance on goal withstanding a strong challenge and coolly finishing past the onrushing Atkins. Just 8 minutes later a weak header from Tom Parkes was headed straight back leaving Parkes out of position and Zola one on one, Zola fired the ball in the roof of the net giving Burton a way back into the match or so it seemed. Eliot Richards again caused trouble for the Burton defence, latching onto a through ball and was clumsily brought down, resulting in a Rovers penalty. Matt Harrold stepped up and as so often this season powered his penalty home providing a two goal cushion for the pirates. The third goal gave Rovers renewed confidence and now looked comfortable in possession and started to dictate proceedings. Rovers’ Mustapha Carayol looked dangerous all afternoon, the crowd rising in anticipation whenever the winger was in possession of the ball, and it was Carayol who made the fourth goal; beating two men before crossing into Jim Patterson, recording his first goal for the club putting the ball into the back of the net with finesse. Burton crumbled after the fourth goal, knowing defeat was inevitable, they rolled over and allowed Rovers to punish them. Richards used his pace to pull away from the Burton midfield before switching play to Matt Harrold through a Wayne Brown dummy, Harrold picked up his second goal of the game with a rasping effort into the far corner. Straight from kick-off Rovers won back possession and sent Richards on another run, causing keeper Atkins and centre half to collide giving Richards an empty net to collect his second of the match. The rout wasn’t over yet for Rovers or Eliot Richards, his first ever hat-rick coming from a fine strike outside the area 10 minutes from time putting Bristol Rovers into seventh heaven. 
       Rovers absolutely dominated the second half and turned over a feeble Burton Albion side through some lethal finishing and class play from Eliot Richards and Mustapha Carayol.