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16:56 23rd March 2002

Bristol Rovers v Exeter City

The Grecians' start the game making changes with Steve Flack and Graeme Tomlinson as the attacking force.  Geoff Breslan takes his place on the right wing with Glenn Cronin returning to the starting line up. City start the game attacking the highly populated Blackthorn Stand full of the Pirates supporters.  The match starts at a very fast pace inside the highly fuelled atmosphere of the Memorial Stadium. Drew Shore attempted the first effort of the game but saw his shot come back off of Cronin who took a heavy knock to his head just a minute later as he attempted to head a clearance away.  Mr Hegley allowed play to continue and took a bit of abuse from the City staff and players for not stopping play for a mandatory head injury. Rovers' , who also supposedly get off to poor starts and play badly for the first half don't seem to be having that problem today as they are forcing all of the early chances and playing at a very high tempo. Ellington proved a bit of a handful for the City defence in the tenth minute as they could not get the ball of off him and he finally let a shot go that fortunately rolled wide of Van Heusden's left post.  Pressuring again Rover's win their second corner only to see the ball go out of play from the far side before reaching the box. Thirteen minutes in and Tomlinson creates our first chance, Flack took a quick throw to Roscoe who back heeled the ball back to him, from Flack's cross Tomlinson flicked the ball up and tried an acrobatic overhead kick that ended up going a yard wide of the post. Coming back into the game a bit more Cronin was the next Grecian to try his luck, from twenty five yards he drilled the ball goal bound but just to high.  City then went on to win a corner that availed to nothing.  After soaking up the initial ten minute onslaught City are starting to pull themselves back into the game. After the initial frantic period the game has settled down a bit and Rovers had a good chance from a corner with James Thomas heading just too high.  City to continue with their own attacking play as again Breslan goes close to hitting the target from the edge of the box. Ellington again proves to be a handful in the thirty fourth minute as Van Heusden has to come flying out to the rescue of his defence to stop Rovers from taking the lead.  In the thirty eighth minute Power was booked for an awful tackle on Simon Bryant who had to subbed due to his injury. Heading into the break a very entertaining game of football that both sets of fans must have enjoyed. Half Time Score Bristol Rovers 0-0 Exeter City The second half starts with City attacking the tarpaulin style stand with the 448 City fans just to their left on the terracing.  There have been no changes to the line up, just Steve Flack with a bit of strapping to his left hand. Forty nine minutes in and a defensive mistake let Roscoe float the ball into Flack, heading the ball into the net it was promptly disallowed due to an offside flag.  City showing promise at the start of the second period. Rovers made their second substitution in the sixty second minute when Challis caught a shot in a rather delicate area and had to be stretchered off and replaced by Vitalijs Astafjevs. The City fans thought the ball was in the back of the net again five minutes after Flacks effort was ruled out, as Power whipped in a deep cross to see Breslan head the ball into the side netting much to the amusement of the Rovers fans to see all of the City fans celebrating what they thought was a goal. City have taken the upper hand and have not been troubled so far as again another effort goes close with Flack unleashing a venomous shot from the edge of the area that Scott Howie just managed to cling on to. City had some neat build up play and Tomlinson did some excellent work in the box to keep hold of the ball before Ampadu let a left foot volley fly wide of goal.  With twenty five minutes to go City are applying some severe pressure with Rovers nearly putting through their own goal twice in a bizarre spell of about five corners in a row for City. Seventy seven minutes now gone and Flack again had another opportunity as he stole the ball from the Rovers' defence but scuffed his shot.  One of those bizarre games today where Flacky is playing a blinder and managing to outpace the Rovers' defence and pulling off some great tricks. Seventy nine minutes and City make their first substitution with Jay Richardson coming on to replace Andy Roscoe.  Jay's first touch of the ball was an effort from the middle of the park that lacked the killer power that they need.  The surface is not really helping the teams though with a very bobbly muddy pitch. Into stoppage time and Flack wins a free kick on the edge of the box, Breslan stepped up and struck the ball just high of the crossbar.  Another great chance staright after as Howie was off his line and Flack tried to lob him, only succeeding in putting the ball wide. The game may have finished 0-0 but don't let that fool you, this was probably one of the most exciting nil all games that you could have seen.  An absolutely superb performance by City but again just lacking that final killer touch in the box.
    Data provided by Press Association