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"The clean sheet really did mean a lot"

Aynsley Pears admits the shutout "meant a little bit more" considering it came against former club Middlesbrough

4 November 2020

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Rovers now have five clean sheets in their opening 10 league encounters following the shutout in the stalemate against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

It was a first clean sheet for Rovers for Aynsley Pears, and it proved to be even sweeter for the 22-year-old, who had been with Boro since 2007 prior to his deadline day switch to East Lancashire almost three weeks ago.

Pears was in for his third successive start following Thomas Kaminski's troublesome groin injury, and certainly showed his class against his old employers with a number of eye-catching stops.

The pick of those saves came from Marcus Tavernier, with Pears in the right place to produce a reaction to tip over early in the second half.

“It was a great clean sheet, especially considering the last two games haven’t gone our way," the young goalkeeper reflected to iFollow Rovers after the game at Ewood Park.

“I felt we were a lot more solid and the clean sheet really did mean a lot.

“I’m happy with a couple of saves in the second half. The first one was from a tight angle and came through a few bodies and then the second one was a reaction stop.

“They’re a tough team to play against, it’s horrible really, they go long, and with the thin squad we have at the moment we had to dig in.

“It was one of those games that we had to grind out. They are unbeaten in the last nine games, so I think we can look at it as a good point.

“If we can keep keeping clean sheets then the wins will definitely come.

“We have five clean sheets in the 10 league games now, so hopefully we can keep that going."

Pears was up against a number of familiar faces having featured alongside the majority of the Boro squad last term in the Championship.

And considering he was still a player for the Teessiders just 18 days before the encounter, it may have taken a little time to adjust.

“It was just like any other game for me, but it did have that little edge to it and the clean sheet meant a little bit more to get it against Middlesbrough considering how things panned out there," he admitted.

“But it was a normal game, there were no more emotions, it was just about getting the job done.

“I was training with them two-and-a-half weeks ago and I’m good friends with a lot of the squad, so it was a little strange to begin with."

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