YATE TOWN 1 PAULTON ROVERS 0
Rovers slip to another narrow defeat.
For the second time in four days Rovers just lost out in a tight encounter that was the archetypal “game of two halves”.
Rovers suffered a blow in the 3rd minute when Yate full back, Tye Mings, was lucky to escape with only a yellow card for an elbow on Stuart Tovey which saw the defender have to leave the field on two occasions in an attempt to staunch the flow of blood. Down to 10 men the visitors had an escape on 8 minutes when Hector Mackie sent over a free kick from the right which skipper, Edd Vahid, headed back across goal where Tom Knighton sent his header over the bar. Rovers first attempt came two minutes later as a defensive header clear saw James Billing out jump his marker and head on for Ryan Gay who, seeing Town keeper, Josh Dempsey, off his line tried a lob from distance but the custodian recovered to catch the ball.
Yate scored what proved to be the only goal of the game on 13 minutes as a corner from the left was taken short to Mings and his cross to the far post was headed home by ex Rovers’ stalwart, Ollie Price.
The home side went on to dominate the first half and almost added a second 4 minutes later as a slick passing move down the right saw Jake Cox cross to Knighton whose header was brilliantly touched onto the bar by keeper, Kyle Phillips and scrambled clear. Rovers were caught on the break on 25 minutes but Knighton’s cross was struck very firmly and another ex Rovers’ player, Dave Stone, was unable to direct his header on target. Matt Groves forced another good save from Phillips and Tovey and fellow defender, Marcus Mapstone, both made crucial block tackles to deny Yate a crucial second goal. However Rovers had a lucky escape 4 minutes from the interval as Scott Brice brought down Harley Purnell 25 yards out in a central position and Mackie’s curling free kick came back off the post.
Rovers were much better in the second period and had a decent chance to draw level 3 minutes after the restart but Loxton’s short free kick saw Ben Osman shoot over the bar. The visitors cause was not helped by the dismissal on 58 minutes of Brice for a second bookable offence but, if anything, they played better with a reduced number as on 68 minutes, Billing, broke well, but his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Dempsey. Rovers best chances then came from corners taken by Loxton as first Mapstone sent a header wide and then Gay had a near post volley clear the bar.
With Rovers pressing forward they were almost caught out with 1 minute left of normal time as a free kick into the Yate box was cleared up to Groves who raced away and rounded Phillips only to send his shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Rovers now face a third successive away trip as they visit run away leaders, Bideford, on Saturday.
Rovers: Kyle Phillips., Stuart Tovey, Jack Allward (Ben Bicknell 91 mins), Lee Davidson (Josh Jeffries 45 mins), Marcus Mapstone, Scott Brice, Craig Loxton, James Billing, Dan Cleverley (C), Ben Osman
Subs not used: Nick Bunyard, Mark Harrington, Scott Lewis.
Rovers Star Man: James Billing
Referee: Lee Sheridan
Assts: Mark Powell / Alan Overthrow