Bristol Rovers 4-2 Southend United
SOL CAMPBELL’S Shrimpers threw away a two-goal lead, last Saturday, as Rovers completed an amazing second-half turnaround.
Leading at the break and seemingly in total control, goals from Tom Hopper and Brandon Goodship looked to have sent Southend on their way.
But, second-half Jonson Clarke-Harris, Abu Ogogo, Ed Upson and Alfie Kilgour strikes sent the Shrimpers home empty-handed.
The Blues’ positive start – with Stephen McLaughlin and Hopper wasting presentable chances – finally saw the fit-again hitman grab his third goal since his long-term injury, on 13 minutes.
In a move initiated by Jason Demetriou, Brandon Goodship was fed, beat a defender and crossed for the hitman to stretch and finish two yards out.
Barely three minutes later, and with their tails up, a fine Goodship flag-kick found the head of skipper, Timothee Dieng – whose close-range volley rebounded back off the Rovers’ crossbar.
A minute later, Hopper was unlucky to see his tight-angled effort deflected by a desperate Alfie Kilgour block, with Elvis Bwomono seeing his powerful drive blocked from Goodship’s ensuing corner.
For all their early pressure, Nathan Bishop almost handed Rovers a lifeline, by picking up a stray backpass. However, with all eleven men back, Liam Sercombe’s eventual teed-up free-kick was cleared.
Clearly setting the scene for the afternoon, relentless Southend doubled their lead, Goodship, latching on to a fine McLaughlin slide-rule pass, drew the keeper and curled home a fine 35th minute effort, from the edge of the ‘D’.
Four minutes from the interval another fine move saw Hopper cleverly feed Demetriou, who was denied ‘Pat Jennings style’ by an outstretched Annsi Jaakkola leg.
With nothing to lose, Rovers attacked with purpose straight from the restart, with Tom Nichols testing Bishop.
The hosts then got a 48th minute foothold when Clarke-Harris drew a foul, a yard inside the penalty area. The top scorer then made no mistake from the spot, driving down the middle of Bishop’s goal.
With Little lucky not to see red for a clear foul, with the referee waving ‘play-on’, Rovers regained possession and from Clarke- Harris’s chipped pass, the unfortunate Taylor helped the loose ball into a grateful Ogogo’s path and the schemer drilled home from eight yards.
Having to defend deep, Southend finally cracked on 74 minutes when the shell-shocked defence failed to clear Kilgour’s long free-kick and Upson completed Rovers’ comeback.
And, they weren’t finished – ten minutes from time – when Kilgour glided home a depressing fourth goal for the 345-strong travelling supporters to endure.
Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola, Mark Little, Tony Craig (Capt), Alfie Kilgour, Luke Leahy, Alex Rodman, Ed Upson (Cameron Hargreaves 90′), Abu Ogogo, Liam Sercome, Tom Nichols (Victor Adeboyejo 70′), Jonson Clarke-Harris (Tyler Smith 87′). Subs not used: Jan Van Stappershoef, Michael Kelly, Luca Hoole, Lucas Tomlinson
Southend United: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono, Timothee Dieng (Capt), Rob Kiernan, Richard Taylor, Brandon Goodship (Emile Acquah 83′), Mark Milligan, Jason Demetriou (Ethan Hamilton 62′), Sam Mantom, Stephen McLaughlin, Tom Hopper (Stephen Humphrys 56′) Subs not used: Mark Oxley, Simon Cox, Isaac Hutchinson, Eren Kinali
Referee: James Oldham
Assistants: Hristo Karaivanov & Marvyn Amphlett
Fourth Official: Steven Plane.