DAZ: MY LADS CAN LIVE WITH THE BEST

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Richard Latham

DAR­RELL Clarke in­sists his Bris­tol Rovers team can live with any League Two op­po­si­tion as they bat­tle for back-to-back pro­mo­tions.

And the man­ager pointed to a se­cond 1-1 draw against high-rid­ing West Coun­try ri­vals Ply­mouth Ar­gyle this sea­son as proof that last term’s Con­fer­ence play-off win­ners can achieve at least a top-seven fin­ish.

Rovers looked like tak­ing all three points when sub­sti­tute Billy Bodin headed them in front from close range 11 min­utes from time.

But Ply­mouth mid­fielder Josh Simp­son con­jured up a su­perb right-footed fin­ish from the edge of the box on 88 min­utes to send the 1,200 away fans in a 10,190 crowd home happy.

Clarke said: “The league ta­ble doesn’t lie and Ply­mouth are not up there for noth­ing, but we feel we can beat any­one in the divi­sion on our day.

“Our two games against them this sea­son could have gone ei­ther way, which sug­gests there isn’t much be­tween the teams.

“If I’m hon­est, they had the edge for much of this game, but we cre­ated some good chances and might eas­ily have won.

“I made a cou­ple of sub­sti­tu­tions early in the se­cond half and switched to 4-4-2 be­cause they were caus­ing us prob­lems on the flanks.

“We looked more solid af­ter that, but might have seen the game out bet­ter af­ter go­ing in front.”

Ar­gyle boss Derek Adams claimed Bodin’s goal owed much to good for­tune, feel­ing there was a hand­ball in the build-up and that Jer­maine Easter’s back-heel into the scorer’s path eight yards out was lucky, rather than skil­ful.

Adams’ mood im­proved when Simp­son con­nected sweetly with Carl McHugh’s chest down to beat Steve Milden­hall and earn a point.

But the man­ager felt his side de­served more. “We con­trolled the first half and had the chances to be two or three up at half-time,” he said.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed with a draw be­cause I couldn’t see Rovers scor­ing and when they did it was with two slices of luck.They are a very good side, who had won at Ox­ford in their pre­vi­ous game, so I’m pleased with the way we per­formed.

“For most of the game only one side looked like win­ning and had we taken our op­por­tu­ni­ties we would have earned all three points. But an away draw is not the end of the world and we could take a lot from the game.”

Tom Lock­yer had a se­cond-half header tipped onto a post by Ply­mouth goal­keeper Luke McCormick, in a com­pet­i­tive and evenly-fought West coun­try derby.

Ply­mouth con­trolled the early ex­changes and al­most went ahead on the half-hour when the dan­ger­ous Greg Wylde saw his fierce left-footed shot hit the bar.

Wylde caused prob­lems on Ar­gyle’s left flank and his 41st minute cross set up an op­por­tu­nity for Jake Jervis that was de­flected over. Both sides had chances in the clos­ing stages, Chris Lines fir­ing nar­rowly wide for Rovers and Jervis see­ing a far post header blocked from an­other Wylde cross.

PIC­TURES: JMP

CRU­CIAL SCORE: Josh Simp­son is con­grat­u­lated on his late equaliser for Ar­gyle, af­ter Billy Bodin had put Rovers in front, in­set STAR MAN TOM

ER LOCKY

Rovers Bris­tol

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