Bristol Rovers curse their bad luck - but at least they score
MAYBE the man who compiles the playlist for the pre-match musical extravaganza at the Memorial Stadium knows something we don't.
"Baaaaad, bad luck," the lead singer of Social Distraction crooned to all those present within the ground an hour before kick-off on Saturday. "You've got baaaaad, bad luck."
Those lyrics were beginning to resonate in the head of this reporter one hour and 18 minutes later as it seemed certain that the bad luck that has played a small part in Bristol Rovers' disappointing start to the season looked set to continue.
Mark McGhee's side were a goal to the good and cruising over a fairly average-looking Aldershot side as Jim Paterson made hay up the left flank in the 18th minute at a time when Rovers were attempting to assert their early dominance by doubling their advantage.
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The defender, however, was stopped in his tracks by a robust push to the floor by an Aldershot defender. Foul! Surely? Not according to referee Steven Hooper, who nonchalantly waved play-on to incite the invective of all those of a blue and white quartered persuasion.
That ire was fiercer still when a matter of seconds later, Aldershot were level from the following phase of play, which saw Craig Reid execute an exquisite finish when Rovers should have really been preparing to load the opposing penalty area in preparation to attack a free-kick.
Bad defending rather than bad luck, however, was to blame for the 57th minute Alex Rodman goal that looked as though it would condemn Rovers to their fourth successive home defeat of the season before substitute Fabian Broghammer came to the rescue by getting a toe on an Eliot Richards' cross to convert from close range in the 89th minute to put an end to Aldershot's stubborn resistance.
The final whistle was accompanied by Monty Python's 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' – although few people would have been surprised had Aldershot manager Dean Holdsworth been humming the melody to 'Lucky You' – as performed by the Lightning Seeds – as he entered his post-match press briefing at which he went on to claim both of Rovers' goals had been offside.
McGhee, perhaps, had been a bit lucky with regards to the timing of the equalising goal – but had Rovers emerged from this 90 minutes with anything less than a point it would have been – as now defunct British R&B combo Mis-Teeq did once sing – scandalous.
The post came to Aldershot's rescue on two occasions to deny Lee Brown a goal, while goalkeeper Jamie Young was in inspired form to pull off an impressive reflex save to spare the blushes of defender Sonny Bradley, who had diverted a ball across the six-yard box towards his own goal, before repelling further efforts from Richards, Matt Harrold, ahead of Broghammer's last-gasp leveller.
McGhee would certainly have enjoyed the German's scrappy late strike due to its sheer significance in the grand scheme of things – but, for the neutral, it would have been hard to pick a favourite goal as these two teams attempted to wrap up the League Two 'Goal of the Season' competition long before the onset of winter. David Clarkson made an early play for the accolade with a vicious 11th-minute strike from all of 25 yards that served to open his account for Rovers following his move across the city over the summer. It was difficult to believe that such an aesthetically-pleasing effort could be bettered, but striker Reid managed to outdo his opposing scorer with a goal of spectacular exquisiteness to level matters. Peeling off the shoulder of Cian Bolger in the 18th minute, Reid collected a high and long cross-field pass from Troy Brown on the toe of one foot before deftly lobbing it over advancing goalkeeper Sam Walker with the outside of the other.
McGhee was left to lament the "shocking" defending which had allowed Reid the opportunity to plunder such a graceful equaliser, but did accept that it had been a 'great finish by the lad' when asked about it afterwards. Holdsworth went even further when saying: "If Dennis Bergkamp had scored it you'd be talking about goal of the season in the Premier League." It was hard to disagree.
Rodman's 57th minute effort was less spectacular, but was a volley accurate in execution nonetheless when guiding a poor attempt to clear off the head of Wayne Brown into the corner of the net. Had the scoring ended there it would have been harsh on a Rovers' side that had produced what was arguably their best Memorial Stadium display of the season so far.
Admirable mention must be offered to skipper Matt Gill, who addressed the concerns of his early-season critics with his best display of the season in which he orchestrated everything that was good about McGhee's side from deep.
Bolger, too, recovered from his culpability for Aldershot's first goal to excel at the heart of defence and certainly looks a far more imposing presence now than when he first arrived at the Memorial Stadium during the ill-fated reign of former manager Dave Penney.
McGhee pondered that there was still much work to be done afterwards, but said the performance was a 'small step' on what he described in his programme notes before the game as the 'long journey' of making progress up the league.
Maybe the manager should search out the man who chooses the pre-match music and tell him to dust off his Guns and Roses CD ready to play the song 'Patience' before Fleetwood arrive at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday week.