Exeter City 1-1 Bristol Rovers
Exeter City:Olejnik, Woodman (Nichols 87’), Noble (Holmes 46’), Harley, Davies, Morrison (Tillson 58’), Nicholls, Moore-Taylor (capt), Reid, Wheeler, Brown.
Subs:Grant, Hamon, McCready, Watkins.
Goals: Reid 90+5’
Bristol Rovers: Nicholls, Leadbitter (Bodin 72’), Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Mansell (capt), Clarke, Taylor (Easter 78’), Clarke, Sinclair, Gaffney (Harrison 78’).
Subs: Mildenhall, McChrystal, Lines, Cowan-Hall.
Goals: Sinclair 83’
Referee: Phillip Gibbs
JAMIE REID struck a last-gasp equaliser to deny Bristol Rovers all three points at St James Park.
A long-range effort from Stuart Sinclair had looked to secure a seventh away league win of the season for the visitors, but Reid’s strike in the fifth minute of stoppage-time ensured a share of the spoils for the Grecians.
City made four changes to the team that beat Mansfield Town in mid-week, including a first league start since September for left-back Craig Woodman.
Following an end-to-end start, Bristol Rovers were responsible for the game’s first major chance. Full-back Lee Brown’s corner eventually found midfielder Stuart Sinclair, whose powerful drive forced a good save from Bobby Olejnik.
Olejnik was called in to action again shortly after. This time striker Rory Gaffney, a deadline-day loan signing from Cambridge United, tested the City keeper with a fierce strike having got in behind the Exeter backline.
Exeter responded with their first major chance of the game just before the half-hour mark. After Alex Nicholls was brought down by Lee Mansell, he stepped up to take the resultant free-kick to force his name-sake Lee in the Rovers goal to tip the ball around the post.
Bristol Rovers began to take the ascendency, and nearly punished Exeter on the half-hour mark. Daniel Leadbitter’s cross found the lively Gaffney at the back-post, who proceeded to nod the ball narrowly wide of Olejnik’s goal.
City centre-back Troy Brown took a hit to the face in the closing-stages of the half, however after receiving some attention he was deemed okay to continue, and the half-time score was 0-0.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CITY 0–0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Bristol Rovers came out of the traps quickly after the half-time break as Gaffney shot through a crowd of players to force Olejnik into a good save. In the next phase of play Bristol Rovers had the ball in the back of the net, but the linesman raised his flag to deny the Pirates an opening goal and Gaffney’s first in Rovers’ colours.
After a spell of sustained pressure, Rovers’ midfielder Ollie Clarke saw his long-range deflected-effort saved by Olejnik. Clarke was at it again shortly after, as he was denied by the crossbar following his cross-come-shot.
Against the run of play, Exeter could have taken the lead shortly after the hour-mark. A mistake from Rovers defender James Clarke resulted in David Wheeler going clean through on goal, but Tom Parkes’ well-timed recovering tackle denied Wheeler a shot from close-range.
A minute later Exeter threatened again as Ryan Harley’s long-range effort was parried just out of the reach of the on-rushing Woodman by Rovers’ loanee keeper Lee Nicholls.
However, it was Bristol Rovers who took a deserved lead in the eighty-third minute as midfielder Stuart Sinclair curled a long-range effort beyond the helpless Olejnik.
Exeter were presented with an opportunity to equalise soon after as Arron Davies was fouled on the edge of the Rovers area, but Tom Nichols blasted the free-kick over the crossbar, and the away stand of St James Park.
Following a spell of pressure, City equalised in dramatic fashion. Jamie Reid latched on to a knockdown in the Rovers box and smashed the ball beyond Nicholls to send the St James Park faithful into raptures.
A last-gasp point for the home-side, then, as they made it seven points for the week and denied their West Country rivals a seventh away win of the Sky Bet League 2 season.
FULL-TIME:EXETER CITY 1–1 BRISTOL ROVERS
Attendance: 5,548 (1,559 away)
Man of the Match: Bobby Olejnik