The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Richard Latham To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­

DAR­RELL Clarke failed to hide his tears as Bris­tol Rovers suf­fered the “dark­est day in the club’s his­tory” af­ter be­ing rel­e­gated out of the Foot­ball League.

The 36-year-old man­ager, who took the job on when the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced John Ward was con­tro­ver­sially moved to be­come di­rec­tor of foot­ball in March, was in­con­solable af­ter a nightmare af­ter­noon for the Bris­tol club.

It ended with po­lice horses sum­moned to deal with a pitch in­va­sion from an­gry fans af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

A first-half goal from Colin Daniel con­demned Rovers to Con­fer­ence foot­ball next sea­son. With Northamp­ton Town and Wy­combe Wan­der­ers both win­ning, even the sup­port of a 10,000-plus crowd was not enough to keep the Pi­rates in League Two.

A dev­as­tated Clarke said: “Words can­not sum up how I feel. I have picked the team for the last eight games and we didn’t get the re­quired points so I take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“In the dress­ing room af­ter­wards I asked all the play­ers to look at them­selves and be hon­est about whether they had done enough over the course of the sea­son.

“I can only apol­o­gise to our fan­tas­tic sup­port­ers. They have given us tremen­dous back­ing and it is aw­ful not to have re­warded that.”

Rovers chair­man Nick Higgs also faced the press and said: “It is the dark­est day in the his­tory of our club, but I can as­sure fans that we will be back.

“Our plans for a new sta­dium will not be af­fected and we were al­ready plan­ning a lot of changes for the sum­mer, so that will not be al­tered ei­ther.”

The goal home fans were dread­ing came on 36 min­utes when Anthony How­ell crossed from the left and Daniel found space to hook a vol­ley in off a post from 12 yards.

Rovers threw ev­ery­thing at their op­po­nents in the sec­ond half and hit the wood­work twice through a David Clark­son header and a Mark McCrys­tal vol­ley.

There were count­less other near misses for a Rovers team who were un­lucky on the day and saw an un­be­liev­able save by Lewis Price on 56 min­utes to keep out a Clark­son shot.

Mans­field boss Paul Cox said:“You don’t en­joy see­ing grown men cry on the pitch at the end of the game. I asked my lads to play with pride, but we re­spect Bris­tol Rovers as a big club and I am sure they will be back. “I know Dar­rell Clarke and can only imag­ine what he is go­ing

through his head.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

FLASH­POINT: Po­lice horses keep the peace as Bris­tol Rovers fans in­vade the pitch af­ter be­ing rel­e­gated

DOWN AND OUT: Dar­rell Clarke breaks down at full-time


SON Bris­tol


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