Bristol Rovers player ratings: ‘Stupendous’ - One player scores 9/10 vs Sheffield Wednesday
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Michael Smith opened the scoring for the Owls at the end of first-half stoppage time but on-loan Middlesbrough loanee Josh Coburn equalised after the hour mark. Both teams had opportunities to win the match and James Belshaw made several saves to deny Darren Moore’s side the victory.
Rovers remain in 14th-position after the latest set of results whilst Wednesday hold third position in the League One standings. Joey Barton’s men stretch their unbeaten run to eight games across all competitions and earn their first positive result at Hillsborough in 48-years. They face another one of the early season favourites Derby County at Pride Park on Saturday.
Tale of the match
Wednesday started the match on the front foot with Barry Bannan’s cross finding Lee Gregory but James Belshaw gathered his header.
Ryan Loft pressurised Michael Ihiekwe into an error which Aaron Collins pounced upon but in a one-one-one his dink was saved by David Stockdale. Belshaw was forced into a key save as Josh Windass turned out James Gibbons and Bobby Thomas to get an attempt at goal.
On the half-hour mark, Rovers were dealt a blow as twice Loft went down without a challenge and had to make way for Harry Anderson. End-to-end stuff saw Gibbons almost turn into his own net but for a save from Belshaw. Rovers then forced Stockdale into a save as Collins put pressure on Ihiekwe for Coburn to make the Wednesday keeper save.
As half-time loomed, Wednesday took the lead out of nothing. George Byers crossed in for Smith to head home and give the hosts the half-time buzz.
The hosts had further chances to increase their advantage when Liam Palmer played in Lee Gregory but Belshaw was alert to save at his near-post effort that was well hit from the ground.
Rovers got themselves back on level terms after the hour mark. Antony Evans’ pass was threaded through and Coburn dinked the ball over Stockdale.
Coburn’s equaliser inspired Rovers to chase a second goal. Anderson played in Collins and from a tight-angle, Stockdale had to claw away the Welshman’s troubling effort.
As stoppage time loomed, Belshaw cemented hero status with a fine save. A header from Smith looked destined for the net but his big hand tipped it over the bar. Windass shortly after spurned the opportunity to win the game as he glanced an effort wide from a near-post header.
Collins had an opportunity to win the match in the dying embers but his attempt was saved by Stockdale to avoid the away side snatching it at the death.
James Belshaw - 9
A stupendous showing as Belshaw gave a good account of himself. He made several good saves including a fine stop from Lee Gregory and Smith.
James Gibbons - 6
Fortunate. He was let off by James Belshaw making a save from Gibbons almost turning in to his own net. The Hillsborough crowd also claimed he had handled the ball in the box.
Bobby Thomas - 7
Another solid showing from the on-loan Burnley man. Thomas won the majority of his aerial duels and timed his battles well.
Lewis Gibson -
Smith peeled away from him and got the better of him in a key moment of the first-half. He picked himself up and dealt with Wednesday’s crosses.
Lewis Gordon - 6
Stood off from George Byers despite him taking a heavy touch, which ultimately led to Michael Smith’s goal. Passive.
Antony Evans - 7
Adaptable. A major part in Coburn’s goal. A key pass that cannoned off the defender and to Coburn. It may not count as an assist but he got into an area. He is adding more to his game as an all-round player too.
Sam Finley - 7
A leader-like display in the centre of the park. Finley had some nervy moments but got into the game and was composed in the middle.
Jordan Rossiter - 7
Tenacious. He was here there and everywhere this evening as he made himself look busy.
Josh Coburn - 8
Clinical. Coburn didn’t have many chances but finishes exquisitely with a fine finish. A deserved warm embrace shared between him and Barton as he was substituted.
Ryan Loft - 7
Loft started the match brightly and put pressure on to Michael Ihiekwe which created Rovers’ best chance of the first-half. He had to make way for Harry Anderson after failing to run off an injury.
Aaron Collins - 7
Busy. He perhaps should have got on the scoresheet with his early opportunity had he showed his clinical edge. Collins put pressure on several Wednesday defenders.
Harry Anderson, subbed on 30 - 6
Came on for Ryan Loft in the first-half. Both attacking and defending, most came from the opposite flank. He was replaced by Luke McCormick in the latter stages.
Scott Sinclair, subbed on 80 - 6
Came on and had one attacking moment but couldn’t make the most of it.
Luke McCormick, subbed on 85 - 6
Came on and did his job of hooking the ball away from danger.