Badshot Lea take an early goal but Rovers pin the visitors back for a draw
This afternoon Rovers host Badshot Lea. Currently sitting a comfortable seventh in the Isthmian South Central League, and with an impressive away win ratio, should be a recipe for an entertaining contest. Keen to keep the momentum going, off the back of a solid performance against then league leaders Chertsey Town, holding them to a 0-0 draw away from home, Rovers will be looking to take this game a step further.
Only one change to the starting line-up from the Chertsey game, Isy Nzelo steps in for the absent Daryl Coleman, with Oshane Brown, Tariq Straker, Antonio Simeone, Bertie Lloyd, Max Oldham, Nabeel Ghannam, Lindell Stewart, Aaron Jenkins, Ben Holden and Ashley Sheppard joiining him. On the bench, a welcome return for Matt Tanton, after a long spell injured, Noah Africa, Matt Feeney-Hill, Charlie Martin and Louie Erotokritos Staussi.
Rovers kick off to a tentative start, Badshot keeping possession but pinned back in their own half. A good through ball by Cameron Rohart-Brown to Anuar Ceesay draws a foul outside the Rovers penalty area. Kai Allsopp takes, but the ball is driven harmlessly over the bar. From the goal kick, Ceesay sets off Rohart-Brown, again on the left, but is shot this time is easy for Oshane Brown.
On 9 minutes, Badshot’s patience on the build-up paid off. A lapse in concentration in the Rovers’ midfield sees a great ball from Joshua Keeya to Adam New. The tall centre-back then finds Ceesay, on the edge of the penalty area, who slots past Brown to open the scoring.
After further probing into the Rovers’ final third by Rohart-Brown and Allsopp on the left, Nabeel Ghannam intercepts, clearing to Aaron Jenkins. His pass sets off Max Oldham on the right, but is dispossessed by Allsopp chasing back. The first threatening run by Rovers. Another Jenkins, Oldham and Ghannam link up, creating a series of one-two’s, puts Ghannam clear, but he couldn’t get his shot away.
Midway through the half Tariq Straker turns provider with a good ball to Ashley Sheppard. His pass inside to Jenkins on the edge of the box sets the Rovers’ striker up, but he was unable to bring the ball under his control, and the chance was gone. Ghannam then does well to keep ball in on the right, gets his round his marker, setting Jenkins up for a great shot, but drawing an even better save from Harry Cawdron, pushing the ball round the post for a corner. Ghannam’s take sits up nicely for Antonio Simeone, but his header is just over the bar.
Rovers continue with good pressure as the minutes run down in the first half. A long throw long throw from Ben Holden skims off the head of New to Ceesay on the break. Stopped in his tracks by Isy Nzelo, passing out to Jenkins but his give and go with Nzelo was judged offside.
A great move by Ghannam, picking the pocket of his defender, puts Oldham bursting through in midfield. His pass sets up Jenkins who releases a wicked shot, which looked like it picked up a deflection, but a goal kick was given. Rovers were enjoying a purple patch in the game, with numerous chances created from good build-up play, and monopolising on Badshot’s mistakes.
An interception by Sheppard finds Jenkins approaching the 18yd box, his pass out wide to Lindell Stewart sits up nicely for a strike, but is pulled wide. In the closing minutes of the half, Holden again launches a throw deep into the Badshot penalty area. The headed clearance is straight back to Holden who fires into the crowded box, the ball pin-balling between defenders and the Rovers attack. The half-time whistle goes, and with the number of chances they had, Rovers knew they could have pulled it level inside the 45mins.
Rovers start the second half in much the same mood as they finished the first, on the front foot, not letting the one goal deficit deter them, and still asking questions of the Badshot defence. Great work by Stewart and Jenkins sees a terrific strike from Jenkins whistle over the bar. Sheppard then takes a harsh yellow for a foul on Keeya, but from their free kick Nzelo blocks and passes through midfield for Sheppard to run on to, his shot again close over the bar.
On 56min, good hassling from Sheppard forces a throw to Rovers deep on the left. Holden shapes up to take, Lloyd glancing the ball backward across the area. Dropping into free space in the penalty area, Badshot capitulate in their clearance, and Jenkins, first to the ball, nudges the ball over the line for the equaliser. It felt like it had been coming.
Keeping up with the pressure, Jenkins bears down on keeper Cawdron, forcing a throw-in on the right. Holden takes short to Sheppard, whose shot from outside the box is deflected away for a corner. On the hour Badshot make their first substitutions, Callum Wiltshire replacing Harvey Griffiths and Dwayne Clarke replacing Iker Noguera-Leon.
After the equaliser, the game evens up with driving runs from both sides. On 70mins, a Holden throw is headed out by New, straight back to Holden, who drives it back into a crowded 18yd box. Deflected out to the right, Jenkins creates himself some space and crosses to Simeone on the far left, his header just wide of the post. A challenge on Oldham on the edge of their box gives Rovers a free-kick wide on the on the left. Oldham floats the ball into the box, Cawdron fumbles but it didn’t drop to a Rovers player. Half cleared, the ball is lofted back over to the far post by Sheppard, Lloyd’s header again cleared by New.
From the Badshot 18yd box, Allsopp sets Rohart-Brown into the Rovers half. With Nzelo in hot pursuit, and having run half the length of the pitch, the Rovers right-back does well to slide the ball out of play. A further Badshot substitution sees Tane Caubo replace Steven Sylla.
A Rovers goal-kick from Brown is headed backward by New, into the path of Oldham, but his cross is blocked out for a corner. Ghannam takes, and his cross is glanced over Simeone on the back post by Rohart-Brown for a throw. Holden takes, which is nodded down by Lloyd for Stewart. Steward passes out to Ghannam, but his shot again is just over the bar. On 77′ Matthew Feeney-Hill replaces Stewart.
Jenkins and Oldham link up with the clock at gone 80mins. The exchange gives Oldham the space to cross into the box, Matt Feeney-Hill’s header just tipped away by Cawdron. From the Holden throw, on the right, New heads clear to Allsopp who wastes no time putting Dwayne Clarke through to the Rovers box. The last ditch tackle from Straker was his last involvement, earning him a straight red and Badshot a free kick from just inside the D. With Rovers back in numbers, and 7 in the wall, Badshot hoist the ball over the bar.
Understandably, Rovers sit behind the ball while they re-shape having gone a man down. From a good break by Oldham, picking the pocket of New, turning inside and out, his shot is palmed away for a corner. Ghannam takes, swinging out toward Lloyd. The header back across the area is headed goalward by Sheppard, where Holden and Cawdron clash, no infringement given.
On 90mis, after a great strike from Ceesay, which Brown touched out for a corner, the Referee calls the far linesman over having spotted an infringement. After the ensuing melee between the players, Ceesay is given his marching orders, though the nature of the infringement was not clear. With the numbers now even, the Badshot corner is headed out by Ghannam as far as Allsopp, who floats the ball to the far post, Holden heading clear.
In the last minute of the 5 added, Badshot win a corner on their right, which is headed out by Ghannam, and nicely picked up by Feeney-Hill. Now with three on three, Feeney-Hill pushes the ball through to Sheppard, but his shot is pulled just wide, the final move of the game.
On the whole, a good result for Rovers, who showed great character to come from a goal behind; up their game, and look the stronger of the two sides for long periods of the match.