A crowd of over 3500 fans took a moment to reflect on the lives of those lost in conflict for our armed forces at The Memorial Stadium before the FA Cup fixture between Bristol Rovers and Bromley FC, this Sunday. Late goals from Rovers' Luke Leahy and the visiting Chris Bush forced the teams into a replay.
The visiting Ravens' supporters were in fine voice throughout, after travelling from the country's capital in the sunshine, and will be the happier of the two sets of fans. Meanwhile, the Rovers' faithful would have hoped for more against seemingly weaker opposition, especially following last week's heroics which earned them a 2-1 victory over fellow League One side Rochdale.
Five minute frenzy brought the crowd to their feet
The game itself began as a dull affair, with little happening in the form of chances in the first half. Visiting manager, Neil Smith, was forced into an early change as 24-year-old Liam Coulston was replaced by Josh Rees just before half-time.
A moment that brought a smile to the faces of Gasheads was found in the 56th minute as top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris returned from a calf strain.
Smith was forced into two more substitutions thanks to an aggressive Rovers play style as Sam Wood replaced Rarmani Edmonds-Green and striker Adam Mekki made way for Adrian Clifton, though Clifton would eventually be sidelined through injury, leaving the National League visitors down to 10 men.
The game burst into life in the 70th minute when substitute Leahy put The Gas ahead with his first touch of the ball. Bromley keeper, Ryan Huddart had parried a shot from midfielder Liam Sercombe but failed to get it out of the danger area.
A resurgent Bromley side did not lie down for their Football League hosts though, as a corner birthed a goal line scramble in which Bush managed to hook the ball over the line. The five minute frenzy brought the crowd to their feet with less than 10 minutes left to go.
Both sides looked to find the killer goal
Playing with the kind of swagger that claimed them the top spot in the National League, Bromley stretched the Gas defence. Looking for a second goal, Bush headed narrowly wide from an out swinging corner and the home fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Throughout the game, the Bristol club failed to find any fluidity in their play, often frustrating their own fans. Bromley had set up to overrun the midfield, stopping either Rovers' wingback from progressing their attacks, leading manager Graham Coughlan to later admit his men "fell into their trap".
The 10 men of Bromley stood firm in defence as seven minutes of added time resulted in wave after wave of home attacks. The closest of these came from Clarke-Harris who wrapped his boot around a ball that had been headed clear, though once again, it failed to get through to the opposition keeper. Soon after, the referee brought the game to close, ending 1-1.
The home manager further admitted his team failed to show enough quality to see them through this fixture, he said:
Monday (11 November), will see the second round draw for the FA Cup, with both sides representing ball 19.