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Match report: Bristol Rovers 3, York City 2
MAYBE the pre-match Rocky theme tune was still ringing in his ears but, when sent off York City striker Ryan Bowman supposedly floored Bristol Rovers captain Tom Parkes, he also delivered a more sizeable blow to his team’s chances of a morale-boosting result at the Memorial Stadium.
With the visitors trailing 2-0, Bowman was introduced to proceedings due to a first-half injury to fellow forward Wes Fletcher and made an immediate impression by embarking on a positive run that teed up the first of two goals on the day for Ryan Jarvis on 41 minutes.
But, just two minutes later, he was heading back to the touchline having barely dirtied his yellow boots.
The clash with Parkes, inside the home side’s six-yard box, seemed to involve a spot of acting that even Sylvester Stallone might have been embarrassed by, as both players fell theatrically to the ground.
But, in allowing himself to get embroiled in such shenanigans and seemingly throwing an arm out at wily campaigner Parkes, City’s 21-year-old forward gave referee Gary Sutton’s assistant the opportunity to frantically wave his flag and then advise the Lincoln official that he should show Bowman his first red card in professional football.
However, if the ex-Hereford striker’s dismissal did his side few favours, nor did the errors by Tom Allan and Michael Ingham that led to the hosts’ opening two goals with David Clarkson capitalising emphatically on both occasions.
In between and afterwards, even when a man down, the visitors were the better team but crucial moments define football matches and the actions of Allan, Ingham and Bowman proved decisive in the final analysis of this 3-2 home triumph. As previously predicted by Worthington, young players will make mistakes and Allan fulfilled that prophecy in only the third minute.
After skipper Chris Smith got his head to a looping Michael Smith cross, Allan’s weakly volleyed clearance only found Clarkson 15 yards from goal.
The former Scotland international then accepted the invitation to punish City’s 18-year-old rookie fully with a fierce first-time finish inside a helpless Ingham’s right-hand upright.
Ingham, without the excuse of inexperience, was culpable, however, when he could only push out right-back Smith’s low centre across the face of goal to Clarkson, who rifled powerfully into the roof of the net from six yards on 33 minutes.
During the intervening half-hour, City had been more threatening as an attacking force than they were for 90 minutes against Hartlepool in their last outing.
Following Clarkson’s opening strike, Craig Clay went close at the far post after Jarvis had released Ashley Chambers down the left flank.
Clay also saw another attempt blocked while Allan’s thumping 25-yard drive whistled narrowly wide following the merest of deflections with Pirates ’keeper Steve Mildenhall well beaten.
From the resulting corner, Allan prodded wide before Rovers full-back Smith was given the freedom of the right wing to deliver the cross that led to Ingham’s mishap and the game’s second goal.
City were back in the game, though, when Bowman burst through the left channel and, at the end of a purposeful run towards goal, unleashed a low shot that struck home defender Lee Brown, killing the ball dead and giving Jarvis the opportunity to find an unguarded net from six yards.
Two minutes later, though, the Minstermen were reaching for the self-destruct button again when Bowman reacted to possible Parkes provocation after the Rovers defence had cleared the ball upfield.
Oliver Norburn then drove over from 25 yards to draw the first period to a close before Parkes headed wide from an Alefe Santos corner moments after the restart.
An eventful afternoon took another twist on 63 minutes when Mark McChrystal pushed City skipper Smith off balance as the two players contested an aerial challenge in the 18-yard box.
Assuming penalty-taking duties, summer signing Jarvis, who had been operating as the lone striker in a 4-4-1 formation following Bowman’s departure, drove his spot kick firmly down the middle of the goal as Mildenhall dived to his left.
Worthington’s men were only on level terms for four minutes, however, with the home side grabbing their third goal following another raid down the right.
Santos headed a Tom Lockyer delivery to the far post back across goal, picking out the unchecked run of John-Joe O’Toole, who calmly applied his finishing touch from two yards.
City, again, refused to surrender.
Tom Platt went close with a header and Smith saw a far-post effort blocked after Mildenhall had fumbled a Clay cross.
Allan was then thrown forward for the last ten minutes as an emergency striker but it was hat-trick seeking Jarvis who went closest to earning the visitors a deserved point when his powerful 25-yard strike was parried to safety by Mildenhall.
Bristol Rovers 3 (Clarkson 3, 33; O’Toole 67), York City 2 (Jarvis 41, 63 (pen))
Michael Ingham 5
Uncharacteristic error proved costly moments after he had fumbled a cross.
Lanre Oyebanjo 7
Rovers made no inroads down his flank but seen less in an attacking sense after his team went down to ten men.
Chris Smith 7
Solid in defence and unsettled the home team in their 18-yard box, leading to the second-half penalty.
Tom Allan 5
Good on the ball but got the pace and direction of his clearance all wrong for the first goal and was slow to react at times.
Ben Davies 5
Allowed too many crosses into the box from his side of the pitch and dragged out of position on occasions.
Dan Parslow 7
Won his physical contests in midfield and never lost his discipline or shape.
Craig Clay 7
Tried to put his stamp on the match and showed good energy to be active in all areas of the pitch.
Tom Platt 6
Worked hard but, even before Bowman’s dismissal, found it hard to provide attacking thrust from the middle of the park.
Ryan Jarvis 8
STAR MAN – maintained his record as City’s only marksman this season with a poacher’s effort and well-taken penalty.
Wes Fletcher 6
Willing and mobile as the team’s lone central striker before injury curtailed his afternoon.
Ashley Chambers 6
Brushed aside too easily by opposition once or twice and sometimes hesitant when given chance to take on his full-back.
Subs: Ryan Bowman (for Fletcher, 39), Michael Coulson (for Chambers, 70), David McGurk (for Parslow, 83). Not used: Kettings, Montrose, Fyfield, Cresswell.
Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer, Oliver Norburn (Matt Gill, 81), John-Joe O’Toole, Alefe Santos, David Clarkson (Mitch Harding, 87), Ryan Brunt. Subs not used: Conor Gough, Garry Kenneth, Ellis Harrison, Shaquille Hunter, Josh Southway.
Star man: Clarkson – took chances presented in ruthless fashion.
Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincoln).
Rating: 6/10 – relied on his assistant for Bowman/Parkes flashpoint and reasonable otherwise.
Booked: C Smith 27, Chambers 36, Parkes 43, Harding 90, Brunt 90.
Sent off: Bowman 43.
Attendance: 5,569 (224 from City).
Shots on target: Bristol Rovers 4, City 4.
Shots off target: Bristol Rovers 3, City 8.
Corners: Bristol Rovers 5, City 9.
Fouls conceded: Bristol Rovers 13, City 15.
Offsides: Bristol Rovers 1, City 1.
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