Unlucky Rovers go down at Wordsworth Drive. Match Report from Andy Harris
Rovers can count themselves very unlucky not to have left Wordsworth Drive with, at the very least, a share of the spoils. The fact that they did so was down to a combination of a fine display of goalkeeping from Lee Matthews, some bad luck and some poor finishing, no doubt contributed to by a lack of football in the proceeding month.
James Billing went close with a header in the 11th minute from a Craig Loxton free kick and then Matthews first showed his pedigree in the 16th minute turning aside a long range effort from Nick Dunn and from the resulting corner, taken by Loxton from the left, Marcus Mapstone saw his effort cleared off the line. Rovers then saw two further chances go begging as Phil Veal got in a great sliding block to deny Josh Jeffries after good work by Ben Lacey and then Jeffries saw a header well saved again by Matthews. Town’s first effort on goal came in the 29th minute as Chris McGrath picked out James Blake on the edge of the box but Rovers’ debutant keeper, Scott Lewis was off his line, narrowing the angle and made an easy save. Rovers should have gone ahead on 34 minutes when Loxton latched on to a poor back pass and squared the ball to Steve Bridges but his well struck shot somehow deflected off a defender and away for a corner. Town then went close 4 minutes from the break when a free kick was taken short and a pass into the box found skipper, Jon Vance, but he put his shot just wide.
The opening period of the second half was end to end and in the 53rd minute both sides spurned a chance to break the deadlock as first Mapstone got on the end of a good passing move only to see his effort blocked allowing Town to break quickly but a poor cross from the right sailed over the bar with two Taunton players unmarked in the box. McGrath then made another good block from a Jack Allward shot before on 66 minutes a great Rovers’ passing move sent Billing clear but his well struck shot was saved by Matthews only for the ball to loop up of a defender and looked certain to end up in the net before Matthews somehow recovered to claim the ball on the line. Lacey again tested Matthews on 67 minutes and from the resultant corner the unlucky Billing saw his header come back off the far post and the shot back in appeared to hit a defenders arm but nothing was given and Rovers then had an even better appeal for another penalty denied in the 76th minute when Billing went down at the near post under a challenge from Matthews.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as against the of play the home side were ahead a minute later as a cross from the left was only cleared to James Blake and his 25 yard shot across Lewis flew into the bottom corner of the net.
Rovers still created plenty of chances to save the game with Loxton blazing wide after another excellent Lacey cross and then Rovers’ skipper Dan Cleverley first headed over a Mahdi free kick and then saw his header from a Loxton free kick cleared off the line and to add insult to injury his overhead kick was then tipped over the bar by Matthews at full stretch. Mapstone had another excellent shot pushed away by the Town keeper and in the final action of the game Lewis made a fine save to deny Taunton substitute Cory Lewis, as Rovers were caught on the break.
Rovers have played much worse this season and won but this Saturday’s visit by Thatcham Town now takes on added significance if Rovers are to maintain their push for a play off spot.
Rovers: Scott Lewis, Stuart Tovey, Jack Allward (Adam Mahdi 75 mins), Nick Dunn, Marcus Mapstone, Josh Jeffries (Ryan Gay ), Steve Bridges, Craig Loxton, James Billing, Dan Cleverley (C), Ben Lacey.
Subs not used: Raiff Gwinnett, Ben Osman, Jon Harvey.
Rovers'Star Man: Dan Cleverley.
Referee: Jim McCaffery
Assts: Jason Haywood / Lee Roberts