This may have been Rovers’ third game without a goal but a draw was a remarkable result given their opponents’ home record and run away lead at the top of the table. Whilst the point was earned by a resolute back five, the visitors, with a little more luck, could easily have made the long journey home with all three points.
For the second successive game full back, Stuart Tovey, was forced to leave the field after just 3 minutes with a head injury, only this time he was joined by Bideford’s Kevin Squire after an accidental clash, which held up the game for several minutes and eventually both players returned suitably bandaged. The game’s first real action came on 14 minutes as the hosts broke down the right and the cross saw, Scott Brice
deflect it away from goal, but James Richard sent in a 20 yard shot that Rovers’ keeper, Kyle Phillips
, did well to get down to and save. Phillips was in action again 4 minutes later as he stretched to tip away a Richard Groves’ free kick and then he produced another fine save, this time from Squire after a good cross from Richard.
Bideford came close on 37 minutes as Rovers failed to clear a free kick and Richard’s cross from the right went beyond the far post where Connor Clifford hit a tremendous left foot volley back across goal and just wide of the far post. Bideford had a free kick on the left hand corner of the box which Groves curled straight at Phillips while on 41 minutes it was Rovers who were awarded a free kick in an almost identical position but Ben Osman made a much better effort of it forcing a good save from Paul Hider, who stretched to tip over the bar. From the resultant corner Brice out jumped the defence but couldn’t get his header on target. The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock came in the 3rd minute of injury time as a corner from the left was headed on at the near post and defender, Aaron Harper-Penman, looked to have headed home but Josh Jeffries
, on the line, hacked the ball clear.
Rovers made a good start to the second period without really threatening their hosts goal and gradually Bideford began to look dangerous as Groves flashed a header across goal and just wide of the far post while only a great sliding tackle from Dan Cleverley
prevented Sean Downing from probably scoring as he latched onto a great through pass. The visitors felt they should have had a penalty on 71 mins as James Billing
went down in the box under the challenge of two defenders attempting to head Tovey’s cross. Just a minute later and a Rovers free kick was cleared to Lee Bryant, 25 yards out and his left volley looked to be headed for the car park but dipped at the last minute to clip the top of the bar!
With 15 mins left Rovers were once again indebted to Phillips as he made another fine save, low to his right, from Jack Furzer. Marcus Mapstone
then produced a great block from Squire as Bideford looked to up the pressure. However this enabled Rovers to counter on the break and after Bryant had sent a volley just wide, Jack Allward, had a great chance to earn his side all three points as, in the final minute, he raced clear but sent his left foot shot across Hider and wide of the far post. The hosts had the final word as skipper, Matt Hockley, sent in a shot from the edge of the box that again Phillips was equal to.
Rovers: Kyle Phillips
, Stuart Tovey, Jack Allward, Josh Jeffries
(Ryan Gay 81 mins), Marcus Mapstone
, Scott Brice
, Lee Bryant (Lee Davidson 85 mins), Craig Loxton, James Billing
, Dan Cleverley
Subs not used: Nick Bunyard
, Ben Bicknell, Tom Park.
Star Man: Kyle Phillips
Referee: Steve Annis
Assts: Justin Moses / Martin Ault