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Report: Bristol Rovers 1 Rovers 1

Late draw breaks Rovers hearts after a Mulgrew penalty handed the visitors the lead against Bristol

14 April 2018

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A dramatic, late Chris Lines volley broke Rovers hearts at the death as Bristol Rovers took an unlikely point from the game at the Memorial Stadium.

A Charlie Mulgrew penalty just after the hour mark gave Rovers the lead, but Lines lashed home with almost the final kick of the game to grab an equaliser for Darrell Clarke's side.

Tony Mowbray named an unchanged side and the same squad for the second game in a week as the same XI were tasked to go again.

Richie Smallwood appeared for his 200th league start, whilst Elliott Bennett began at right back, with Ryan Nyambe still out with a hamstring injury.

Our Bennett will be up against kid brother Kyle, who lined up on the left for the hosts. But there was no Liam Sercombe of Bernard Mensah for Darrell Clarke's side and that resulted in Tom Broadbent and the experienced Lines coming into the XI.

Six minutes into the contest and a Mulgrew free kick almost caught Sam Slocombe out at his near post but the 'keeper was across quickly to beat away the attempt.

At the other end, home attacker Bennett dodged his brother's challenge before smashing just over the bar with his weaker left foot.

The chances were starting to arrive and after Tony Craig's backpass was short, Danny Graham nipped in but chose to cross to Bradley Dack - who fired over - rather than go for goal.

Rovers were pressing more and more, and Darragh Lenihan headed over at the back post after a deep Mulgrew corner midway through the half.

At the other end, Ollie Clarke rifled over the upright after the ball broke his way with 12 minutes to go in the half.

A few moments later and Dack worked a great opportunity to hand the visitors the lead but after getting on the end of a Graham knock down, Tom Lockyer was there to get a vital touch to prod the ball away just as Dack was preparing to pull the trigger.

The home side didn't create much in the first half but after Lenihan was wrestled off the ball, the powerful Harrison saw his strike take a deflection and roll through to David Raya in added time.

Tony Mowbray changed things up for the start of the second half, with Corry Evans being replaced by Paul Downing.

The switch saw Downing move to centre back and Lenihan to right back, with Bennett moving into midfield to partner Smallwood in the middle of the park.

The hosts had a fantastic chance to take the lead just 10 minutes into the second half as Bennett's ball was perfect for Harrison, but Raya was out smartly to smother with his legs.

A double change on the hour saw Dack and Conway replaced by Jack Payne and Dominic Samuel as Mowbray played all his cards 

Five minutes later and the deadlock was broken as Smallwood's great footwork saw him brought down in the box by Broadbent and up stepped Mulgrew to cooly send Slocombe the wrong way from the spot.

With 20 minutes to go, ex-Bristol City man Derrick Williams missed a guilt-edged chance to add to the tally but after Adam Armstrong's deep cross found him, the left back somehow headed wide when it looked easier to score.

Armstrong was getting more involved in the game and after craftily skipping past Tony Craig, could only curl over Slocombe's upright from inside the box.

With three minutes to go, Rovers relied on Raya to tip a Downing slice around his post before Graham tested Slocombe after Payne's ball found him.

But just when it looked as if Rovers would earn the points, Lines volleyed home from the edge of the box to earn a last gasp equaliser for the hosts with almost the last kick of the game.

Rovers are next in action on Thursday 19th April when Peterborough United visit Ewood Park.

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Brown, Lockyer (c), O. Clarke, Harrison (Telford, 76), Lines, Broadbent, Moore (Bachdadi, 76), J. Clarke (Gaffney, 60), Craig, K. Bennett.

Unused substitutes: Smith, Nichols, Bola, Russe.

Goal: Lines, 90

Booked: Broadbent, 60, O. Clarke, 61

Rovers: Raya, E. Bennett, Lenihan, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Evans (Downing, 46), Conway (Samuel, 59) , Dack (Payne, 59), Armstrong, Graham.

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Whittingham, Bell, Antonsson.

Goal: Mulgrew, 65

Booked: Lenihan, 83

Attendance: 10,029 (1,303 away)

Referee: Kevin Johnson

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