PAULTON ROVERS BRIDGWATER TOWN 1
Rovers end goal drought with a comfortable win over their local rivals.
Match report from Andy Harris - photos from Haydn Jones.
Rovers gained revenge for a defeat at Fairfax Park earlier in the season and ended a run of three games without scoring.
The opening exchanges saw the home side have the territorial advantage and more possession without really threatening and the visitors’ cause was not helped with the loss of striker and ex Rovers’ under 18 player, Kye Palmer, who was forced to leave the field with a dislocated left shoulder after just 8 minutes of play.
The game eventually sprang to live in the 18th minute when Rovers were awarded a free kick for a foul 30 yards out and Ben Osman’s well struck, low right foot shot bounced just in front of Town keeper, Luke Purnell, diving to his right and into the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts doubled their lead 6 minutes later with an excellent passing move down the right which saw skipper, Dan Cleverley, slip a pass inside Town full back and former Rovers’ player, Ollie Barnes. Osman’s whipped in cross found Lee Bryant unmarked at the back post to apply a simple finish.
Rovers began to play some neat football and the visitors were confined to a few set pieces and the occasional break away, as the first half petered out with Rovers comfortably in control.
The visitors began the second period well and Craig Mawford, moved up from full back to midfield with a change at half time, found himself clear in the 49th minute but home keeper, Kyle Phillips dived bravely at his feet to claim the ball. Rovers responded and a great cross field pass from Scott Price sent Jack Allward away down the left but his shot across goal went wide of the far post. The visitors should have reduced the arrears just after the hour mark as Jake Mawford crossed from the right to Dave Pearse, who blazed over from about 10 yards out.
The introduction of Adam Mahdi from the bench by Rovers nearly produced an immediate change of fortune as first he sent a free kick over the bar and then just failed to get on the end of a great cross from Ben Lacey from the left. Mahdi went even closer on 69 minutes with another free kick after Allward’s great run across the box saw him brought down 20 yards out, but this time Purnell did well to touch the shot over the bar. James Billing, Lacey and substitute, Ryan Gay all saw their shots well blocked by a Bridgwater defence now under some pressure. With 10 minutes left Purnell produced another fine save to turn aside a Mahdi shot but could only punch the resultant corner out to Marcus Mapstone, whose first volley was blocked but he sliced his second attempt wide.
However somewhat against the run of play the visitors got back into the game with 8 minutes left as a move down the left saw the ball crossed to Jake Mawford who volleyed the ball back across goal for substitute, Lewis Irish, to head home.
Rovers however responded and restored their two goal advantage with 3 minutes left. Billing found Craig Loxton and his through ball released Gay who went clear and slotted past the advancing Purnell to claim his first senior goal and earn his side all three points, despite a late scare, as Phillips was called upon to make a save from a 25 yard shot from Pearse in injury time.
Rovers: Kyle Phillips, Stuart Tovey, Jack Allward, Ben Osman (Ryan Gay 70 mins), Marcus Mapstone (Lee Davidson 80 mins), Scott Brice, Lee Bryant (Adam Mahdi 63 mins), Craig Loxton, James Billing, Dan Cleverley (C), Lacey.
Subs not used: Ben Bicknell, Tom Park.
Referee: Christopher Wade
Assts: Savvas Yianni / Andrew Gibbons