Bristol Rovers player ratings v Exeter: ‘Torrid time, off the pace, unfortunate’
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Bristol Rovers’ 2022 ended with a dramatic defeat to Exeter City as they lost 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at the Memorial Stadium. The Gas mounted a two-goal comeback in the second-half and went in front but then surrendered the lead to the Grecians.
Sam Nombe scored the first and last goal of the match as the Grecians surrendered a two-goal lead to later claw back the victory despite falling behind. Archie Collins added to Nombe's opener in first-half stoppage-time. Rovers responded with Aaron Collins on target, for his 12th goal of the campaign as well as setting up Middlesbrough striker Josh Coburn, who levelled proceedings.
Scott Sinclair scored a penalty 15 minutes from time, but they were unable to hold on as Timothee Dieng equalised five minutes from time and then Nombe struck his second in the second minute of additional time.
Rovers suffer their second defeat in as many games after a run of six games without a loss, and as a result drop to 12th and are overtaken by Gary Caldwell’s side.
James Belshaw - 5
Should’ve done better with Nombe’s first, however denied him twice minutes later with a double of smart saves. He could have done better with Collins’ low strike, and was unlucky to not get a hand to Dieng’s header. He was let off the hook when Standsfield missed the goal he left open, however mistimed his run and saw Nombe head over him and into his net. A torrid time with four goals shipped.
Lewis Gordon (Subbed for Harry Anderson 45’) - 5
Was ineffective going forward against an impressive Jake Caprice, and his opposite number had the running of him when defending his own goal.
Lewis Gibson - 6
May have been at part-fault for Exeter’s opener, after Nombe had far too much time to pick up the ball outside the area and find the top corner, however redeemed himself, stopping a clear goal when he chucked himself in front of Jevani Brown’s shot in the second half, with Belshaw giving the Everton loanee a massive hug when the ball was put over the bar.
Bobby Thomas - 6
Like his defensive partner Gibson, was too slow to press Nombe, however redeemed himself in the second half with a great last-ditch tackle on Brown who was bearing down on goal.
Luca Hoole - 5 (Subbed for James Connolly 45’)
Hoole was caught out of position for his side’s second. The Wales Under-21 international was brought off at half time in a change of shape for his side.
Paul Coutts - 6
The Scotsman was the only one in the Rovers midfield who could put a pass together in the first-half. He was ran ragged in the second by an impressive Exeter midfield.
Sam Finley - 6
Like many of his teammates, had a slow first half. Managed to get on the ball more in the second however left lots of gaps when he was pushing forward more.
Anthony Evans - (Subbed for Scott Sinclair 45’) - 4
Looked off the pace throughout, with a host of careless touches and passes, highlighted when his ball out the defence went straight to an Exeter attacker and seconds later Archie Collins was striking the ball low past Belshaw.
Aaron Collins - 9
The Welshman picked him up from a quiet first-half to hit a powerful strike from outside the area to beat Jamal Blackman. He later set up Josh Coburn to level up the game, and also earned a penalty that Scott Sinclair converted. Unfortunate to be on the losing side.
Ryan Loft - 6 (Subbed for John Marquis 63’)
Struggled to get a kick throughout and was substituted just after the hour mark.
Josh Coburn - 8
Claimed the goal from Aaron Collins’ cross and was a constant threat to the Exeter defence in another game of his shirt being pulled almost off his back at every opportunity
James Connolly - 7
Flew in front of Brown’s strike just after the hour mark, with his all important block denying a clear goal and keeping his side in it.
Harry Anderson - 7
A welcome return from injury for the winger, who brought width to his side for their second half turnaround.
Scott Sinclair - 8
He provided the attacking spark his side lacked when he was brought onto the pitch, provided the assist for the first and was the coolest man in the stadium, slotting past Blackman from 12 yards.
John Marquis - 6
Had the chance to extend his side’s lead, and only Marquis will know how his effort was saved inside the penalty area after he was found alone.