Bristol Rovers 1-1 Derby County: Last gasp Evans penalty gives Rovers deserved point
David McGoldrick’s fifth minute strike was cancelled out by Antony Evans’ late penalty, as Joey Barton’s side were well worth a point.
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Harry Anderson made his first Bristol Rovers start since February, with Scott Sinclair the other change for Derby County‘s visit to the Memorial Stadium, John Marquis and Anthony Evans made way and both featured on a strong looking bench.
The away side started the better and took the lead with their first chance, Tom Barkhuizen found space down the left hand side and his cross found an unmarked David McGoldrick in the area, the Derby captain made no mistake in placing his shot past James Belshaw to open the scoring.
Rovers grew into the game, mainly through the determination of Grant Ward and Lamare Bogarde in midfield. The latter created the Gas’ best chance so far when he chipped the ball to Scott Sinclair in the penalty box. Derby had men back however and the ball was intercepted before Sinclair could get his shot away.
The Gas then had a guilt-edged chance to equalise. Erin Cashin was robbed of the ball by Sinclair who found himself one-on-one with Joe Wildsmith. The winger took it past the keeper, and then played the ball across the box. Anderson was waiting at the back post and only he will know how his shot hit the post instead of the gaping open net.
There were penalty appeals minutes later, as Lewis Gordon looked to be tripped inside the penalty area after combining well with Sinclair down the left but referee Ollie Yates waved away protests, Barton’s side looked firmly in the ascendancy as they pushed for an equaliser.
Derby had a great chance to extend their lead just after the half-hour mark. They won a corner after Jake Rooney found space down the flank and Conor Hourihane’s delivery met the free head of Cashin, luckily for the Rovers defence the header was over the bar.
A half-time substitution saw Ryan Loft enter the pitch, with Harry Anderson going the other way in a tactical switch for Barton’s side, the first half saw Collins an isolated figure in attack so the addition of an ‘out and out’ striker was always presumed.
The Gas started the second half the same as they ended the first, and had another great opportunity when Lewis Gordon’s cross found Sinclair in the middle of the box. Yet he ex-Celtic man slipped as the ball landed at his feet, and left his side still searching for their equaliser.
Sinclair had another golden opportunity after he was found by another Gordon cross at the back post, although his header was soft and over Wildsmith’s net.
This time it was Ryan Loft to waste a great chance as Rovers pushed for the leveller with 20 to go , he found space on the edge of the box after he was found by Grant Ward, but the striker’s half-volley was high over the Thatchers End goal.
Harvey White’s freekick almost caught the defence napping, while the majority inside the Rovers penalty area expected the midfielder to cross, he curled an effort towards the near post which was saved well by James Belshaw - one of the only things he has had to do all afternoon.
The game was almost put to bed late on by McGoldrick as he was fed through on goal as Derby looked to sit back and hit the Gas on the counter, James Belshaw was on hand though - making a good stop and keeping his side in it.
Heading towards the third minute of injury time, the Gas finally had their chance for the equaliser when Harvey White tripped Antony Evans inside the area. Evans picked himself up and stuck the ball into the top corner, finally levelling the score.
It was Belshaw denying McGoldrick oncemore in the last kick of the game, the striker was found one-on-one with the Rovers shot-stopper getting down well to deny the striker his second of the game, and preserving a well-fought point for his side.
Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, James Connolly, Lewis Gibson, Lewis Gordon (Antony Evans 72), Sam Finley (Josh Coburn 72’), Lamare Bogarde, Grant Ward (Luke McCormick 84’) Harry Anderson (Ryan Loft 45’), Aaron Collins, Scott Sinclair (John Marquis 84’)
Goals: Evans 90+2’
Derby County: Joe Wildsmith, Conor Hourihane (Max Bird 66’), Eiran Cashin, Tom Barkhuizen (Craig Forsyth 59’), James Collins (Lewis Dobbin 66’), David McGoldrick (C), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Harvey White 66’), Korey Smith, Haydon Roberts, Jake Rooney (Curtis Davies 74’), Jason Knight.
Goals: David McGoldrick 3’
Yellow cards: Eiran Cashin 50’, Joe Wildsmith 60’, Craig Forsyth 68’
Attendance: 9,388 (1293 away)