Bristol Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 19th Sep 2020 15:59
Town’s game against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium remains 0-0 at half-time.
James Norwood and Gwion Edwards started for the Blues in a team otherwise unchanged from the one which beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in their League One opener last weekend.
Having made seven changes for the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Fulham in midweek, manager Paul Lambert returned to his regular XI as near as he was able.
Norwood, making his first start of the season, came into the central striking role with Aaron Drinan out injured. Freddie Sears was on the left and Edwards on the right of the front three with Alan Judge missing from the 18, presumably due to a knock.
Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop continued in midfield with Toto Nsiala and James Wilson the centre-halves and skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward at right and left-back respectively.
Tomas Holy was in goal for Town, who changed for the game in the Supporters Club bar behind one of the goals. Owner Marcus Evans had made the trip and was watching from the directors’ box, as was forward Armando Dobra.
Bristol Rovers made one change from the team which drew 1-1 at Sunderland last week with former Blues youngster Ed Upson returning in midfield for the injured Sam Nicholson.
The game, again played at an empty stadium, was preceded by a minute’s silence for former Rovers chief executive Gordon Bennett, who died recently.
The Blues were wearing last year’s burgundy and blue away shirt but with blue shorts with a yellow and burgundy trim with the home side wearing their traditional blue and white quarters.
The game’s first chance fell to the Pirates in the eighth minute when new Rovers striker Brandon Hanlan was found in space on the edge of the box with Town appearing to expect a linesman’s flag which was never raised. Fortunately, the former Gillingham man failed to make much of the opportunity, shooting low to Holy’s left but weakly and too close to the Czech keeper.
Wide men Edwards and Sears has presented the main threat for the visitors in the early stages, both making quick breaks down their flanks before sending in crosses which Pirates keeper Anssi Jaakkola was able to claim.
Neither side was able to gain control or create anything of note before the 21st minute when Chambers found Edwards in space on the right but the Welshman’s low cross was again too close to Jaakkola.
Rovers centre-half Alfie Kilgour will feel he should have done better with a Zain Westbrooke free-kick from deep on the left sent into the box which he allowed to scuff off his foot and behind at the back post.
As the half moved into its final 10 minutes, Norwood was fouled by home skipper Max Ehmer not far outside the Rovers area. Sears took the free-kick and hit a low shot which Jaakkola saved down to his left. Edwards reached the loose ball and played it back to Chambers, who scuffed his effort wide.
The Blues were gaining the upper hand as the 40th minute passed, Dozzell playing looping balls beyond the home defence for first Norwood and Sears to chase but both were flagged offside, very narrowly in the latter’s case.
On 42 Upson, the scorer of Town’s wining goal in the 2005 FA Youth Cup final, was booked for a foul on Dozzell.
Soon after, Dozzell, who was at the heart of everything for Town, just overhit a cross-field pass aimed towards Nolan, who was breaking into the left of box.
That was the last action of a rather scruffy half in which chances were a rarity. Overall the Blues had been the better of the teams but had often been careless in possession with too many passes going astray or out of play, with the opposition similarly guilty.
Rovers, however, had had the two best chances, Hanlan’s early effort which failed to test Holy, although he appeared to be offside, and Kilgour’s misconnection with Westbrooke’s free-kick. Sears’s free-kick was Town’s best chance.
Rovers: Jaakkola, Little, Leahy, Grant, Ehmer (c), Upson, Westbrooke, Hanlan, Mitchell-Lawson, Kilgour, Harries. Subs: Van Stappershoef, Baldwin, Hare, Hargreaves, Tutonda, Ayunga, Daly.
Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Nsiala, Wilson, Ward, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Norwood, Sears. Subs: Cornell, Donacien, Kenlock, Huws, Downes, Lankester, Hawkins. Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey).
Photo: Matchday Images
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