Two late goals from Chris Lines and Luke Norris send Alex Revell’s men to second in Sky Bet League Two…
Alex Revell named just one change that came out victorious on penalties against Luton Town in midweek, as Charlie Carter dropped to the bench in place of Bristol Rovers icon Chris Lines.
Stevenage got off to a brighter start than their hosts, despite an almost full Memorial Stadium creating very welcomed noise around the Bishopston area of Bristol. Ex-Torquay forward Jamie Reid knew this area of the world very well, and almost put the Hertfordshire side ahead within the first five minutes. After being slid through by fellow West Countryman Chris Lines, the Stevenage man could only drag his low effort wide of the far post.
Half an hour into the game, Bristol Rovers had the first effort on target for the two sides. From a wide free kick just out from the corner of the Stevenage box, ex-Boro defender Mark Hughes stooped down low to get his head on the ball, only to direct it at Joseph Anang who collected easily.
A minute later, Stevenage raised their game to then make their first shot on goal. Elliott List drove down the right flank and crossed low into the box before a ricochet allowed Jake Reeves to take aim. The midfielder has enjoyed the start to his Boro career with one goal and a winning penalty in two games, but this time the opposition made the block to keep the ball out.
For first half that was desperate for chances on goal, it was almost the oddest outlet for Rovers to take the lead. After Scott Cuthbert had tidied up at the back, the ball was played short to Terence Vancooten who had to get a foot in and clear inside the area. His clearance, however, was aimed right into Joseph Anang’s top left corner. Thankfully, the goalkeeper was aware to enough to match it and tip behind for a Gas corner.
The hosts then had two long distance chances through Harry Anderson and Sam Finley before the referee blew for half-time.
The second half started, and the two sides seemed to increase their intensity to win the game. Cian Harries picked up the tie’s first booking of the game after a strong challenge on Jake Taylor, before Terence Vancooten had his name taken for breaking up a threatening counterattack.
After Luke Norris and Charlie Carter were introduced just before the hour mark, Elliott List’s glancing header from Luther James-Wildin’s cross went close again for Stevenage – but not close enough.
As he looked to affect the game, the newly long-haired Charlie Carter danced his way past numerous Bristol Rovers midfielders and drove towards goal. Upon taking aim, the attacker seemed off balance before dragging his shot wide.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Rovers’ Harry Anderson looked to take matters in his own hands, after collecting the ball on the edge of the Stevenage box and taking on several Boro defenders. Anderson made space for the shot, but could only fire high and wide over Joseph Anang’s goal.
As the game looked to be heading for a bore goalless draw, the script thought otherwise with a goal from the man of the occasion, Chris Lines. Ben Coker found the penalty spot with his left-footed curling corner, for Chris Lines to squeeze past Jaakkola in the Rovers’ goal. Muted celebrations from the Stevenage midfielder, but the travelling faithful behind the goal sent into raptures.
The referee indicated six minutes of added time as Bristol Rovers started pressing higher and threatening more from long balls and crosses, but it would be Alex Revell’s side to notch that all important next goal. As Jake Reeves carried the ball from deep within his own half, the midfielder found Luke Norris in acres of space who coolly slotted home. Job done and the perfect start to the 2021/22 season.