An afternoon to forget for Stevenage as Bristol Rovers run rampant at The Lamex Stadium…
Paul Tisdale named four changes from Saturday’s eventful trip to Barrow, with Luke Prosser suspended and Zain Westbrooke ineligible to play against his parent club. Terence Vancooten slotted into defence next to Scott Cuthbert, while Ed Upson came into the midfield. Luke O’Neill replaced Luther James-Wildin at right-back, and Jamie Reid came in for Elliott List up front.
After around four hours of torrential rain on Broadhall Way, the sun began to shine on the North Stand as the players walked from the tunnel to the centre circle for kick-off.
The first effort of the game came from the visitors, when Sam Nicholson’s jinking run created space for the Rovers man to shoot, only to drag his shot wide of the mark. Stevenage responded with a spell of possession and succession of corners, but it would be Bristol Rovers with the next chance of the game.
Ten minutes in, Christy Pym was tested for the first time after Sam Finley’s effort from inside the area found its way through a sea of bodies, only to be matched by the well positioned Boro stopper.
Minutes later, Stevenage looked the most likely to score when Scott Cuthbert’s glancing header was cleared off the line, and a number of subsequent shots were blocked by a resilient Gas defence.
Midway through the half, Christy Pym was called into action twice in quick succession and both times to deny Aaron Collins, either side of a Luke Norris shot that was blasted just over the crossbar from inside the visitors’ box.
An end-to-end first half an hour of the game, but it would be the visitors to take the lead in the 36th minute. Rovers’ Sam Finley picked the ball up on the edge of the Boro box, before curling a right-footed effort into the top right corner.
Bristol Rovers continued to see more of the ball after the opener too, with Elliot Anderson’s strike from distance needing to be tipped over the crossbar by Christy Pym. Paul Tisdale’s men went in behind at the break.
Despite the interval to regroup and recover, Stevenage were three down within ten minutes of the restart. Elliot Anderson worked his way into the Boro box before firing past Pym, and then Harry Anderson made it three from inside the area. Not the start to the half Tisdale’s men would have wanted, now with a mountain to climb to get anything back from this game.
Charlie Carter and Luther-Wildin were introduced shortly after, as change was needed to find any way back. Bailey Clements then fired a freekick just over the crossbar midway through the half, before Bruno Andrade was Boro’s last throw of the dice to come on.
Jake Taylor went close to getting Stevenage back in the game with just under twenty minutes to play with a header form Luther James-Wildin’s cross, but Belshaw did well to match it and tip behind.
A minute later it was four after Aaron Collins capitalised on a rebound from Ryan Loft’s crossbar effort.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Boro came forward but had nothing to show for it come full-time. Not the result Stevenage wanted as attention now turns to the trip to Port Vale on Saturday.