Bristol Rovers 2-1 Barnet: Ryan Brunt nets injury-time winner for Rovers
Ryan Brunt scored an injury-time winner to help Bristol Rovers climb out of the League Two relegation zone on a thrilling evening at the Memorial Stadium.
A Fabian Broghammer goal in the 77th minute looked almost certain to prove the difference between the two relegation-threatened teams – before Barnet substitute Harry Crawford pounced to stroke home from close-range in the 90th minute to seemingly earn Edgar Davids' side a vital point.
New boy Brunt, who recently arrived on a permanent deal from Stoke City, however, had other ideas when guiding a powerful shot high into the net when a Lee Brown shot was deflected kindly into his path seconds from the end.
The goal sparked wild celebrations amongst a bumper crowd of over 8,500 and was enough to lift Rovers up four places to 19th in League Two as the revival under new manager John Ward continued.
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Rovers just about deserved their victory after shading the opening period and creating the more noteworthy opportunities – although Barnet were better after the break and played some attractive passing football – a lack of cutting edge, however, was noticeable and proved their downfall.
Ward's men rarely looked in danger of conceding throughout and were quick out of the blocks; the first chance coming as early as the fifth minute off the boot of Broghammer, who had replaced Eliot Richards in the starting line-up, only for Barnet goalkeeper Graham Stack to collect the effort with ease.
Brunt, who was again asked to lead the line on his own, supplied the pin-point cross to create that opportunity and went close with a sliced shot of his own soon after before seeing it narrowly clear the crossbar.
Broghammer was then given another sight of goal when Joe Anyinsah's attempt from the edge of the area was scuffed kindly into his direction – but the young wideman's attempts to capitalise on that stroke of luck were denied via a deflection that took the ball wide of the post.
Midfielder John-Joe O'Toole then aimed a volley from the edge of the penalty area straight into the arms of Stack just before Ricky Holmes speculative 23rd minute effort from distance – Barnet's first of the game – failed to trouble Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall.
Brunt was denied the final meaningful opportunity to open the scoring before half-time when his shot from inside the penalty area was blocked by defender Andy Iro after Lee Brown had carved open the Barnet back four with a tenacious break down the left.
Davids' men returned the more energetic side after the break – although it took until the hour mark for the first chance of the second-half to come.
It was the Barnet player/manager himself who created it with a driving run towards the edge of the penalty area before letting fly with a vicious effort. Steve Mildenhall, however, was equal to the task and fingertips pushed the ball around the post and to safety.
Jon Nurse and Mark Byrne also went close before Broghammer latched onto Brown's accurate pull-back and skipped around Stack to plunder the opener.
Crawford missed a sitter from all of six yards with two minutes remaining before earning redemption with a scrappy shot from close-range that seemed certain to ensure a draw. That was until Brunt's late intervention, however.
Rovers (4-3-3): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown; Clucas, O'Toole, Norburn (Richards 75); Anyinsah (Clarkson, 74), Brunt, Broghammer (Woodards, 89). Subs: Gough, Harrison, Hitchcock, McDonald.
Barnet: (4-3-3) Stack; Yiadom, Johnson, Stephens, Iro; Byrne, Oster (Kamdjo, 83), Davids; Holmes (Crawford,32) Nurse, Sekajja (Allen, 86). Subs: Cowler, Fuller, Brown, Lee.