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Rain rescues Blues as match abandoned
HEAVY rain came to Wanderers’ rescue as their match with Bristol Rovers was abandoned after 65 minutes.
The heavens opened just as the players took to the pitch for the start of the second half with Blues 3-1 down and after the match was suspended referee Andy Davies took the decision to bring a premature halt to the game.
It was the correct decision as the ball held up on the wet surface and players created more splashback when they went to ground than at the average Olympic diving contest.
The weather was all that spared Blues from what appeared to be a certain defeat as their familiar defensive frailties raised their head again.
Eliot Richards scored twice in the space of a minute just before the break to put the Pirates fully in control.
Young full-back Charles Dunne gifted him the second of those, just as fellow youngster Anthony Stewart had allowed David Clarkson too much room to create the game’s opening goal.
Richard Logan’s equalising goal – his first for the club – was the only bright spot on a literal and mental black day for a much-changed Wanderers side.
Gary Waddock made four changes from the side beaten by Gillingham on Tuesday and one of the new men, Logan, had the game’s first opening. His strike partner Stuart Beavon had a shot that hit a defender and hung in the air and Logan nodded the ball up after beating Rovers keeper Sam Walker to it, but when it came back down out of the sky the former Exeter man could only head it straight at the visiting custodian.
Blues were punished for that miss when the Gas went in front after their first incisive attack. Anthony Stewart switched off and allowed Clarkson too much space down the left, and the striker cut inside and pulled it back for Lee Brown to clip into the top corner of the net.
The lead was short lived though. Beavon had given Rovers warning of his intentions as Tom Parkes made an excellent last-ditch tackle to deny him, and he was involved in the move that led to Blues’ swift riposte.
He turned full-back Michael Smith inside out with a typically bustling run before knocking it back for Matt Spring, whose superb cross from the left was on a plate for Logan and he took full advantage, powering past a static Walker.
That goal settled Wanderers down and a cleverly worked free-kick routine saw Charles Dunne lay the ball off for Spring to hammer narrowly past the post.
But as torrential rain gave way to bright sunshine Rovers should have gone back in front as former Wanderers striker Matt Harrold nodded the ball down to the unmarked Eliot Richards, but with the goal gaping he blazed woefully over from ten yards.
Harrold was clearly keen to score against his former employers and hearts were in mouths amongst the Adams Park faithful as his shot dropped just over the crossbar after looping up off Dave Winfield.
Richards atoned for his earlier blunder as he scored twice in the space of a minute to put the Gas in control. Firstly he was picked out in acres of space and had time to set himself before thumping the ball into the top corner from fully 25 yards to put Rovers back in front.
Then barely 60 seconds later he seized on a misdirected defensive header from Dunne and slammed the ball into the same corner of the net to give his side a two goal lead.
Blues’ defensive showing led to boos from the fans at half time and the pouring rain that greeted the players back onto the pitch for the second half matched their dark mood – with Joel Grant missing the kick off and having to be waved onto the pitch as he was late coming out for the restart.
That was the major talking point once the whistle blew as the weather conditions meant good football was impossible as players struggled to control or dribble with the ball, and when Rovers carved out a chance from Smith’s cross Clarkson couldn’t take it as he slipped over trying to get on the end of it.
A shot from latecomer Grant didn’t go out of play as it zipped wide of the mark, such was the amount of surface water clogging the pitch.
Eventually after 20 minutes of farce the match was suspended with the monsoon rains continuing to pour down and deafening thunder rumbling around the Chiltern hills.
Finally fifteen minutes later came the news the match was abandoned due to health and safety concerns – prompting chants of “We want our money back” from the angry visiting support.
Wanderers: Bull, Stewart, Winfield, Doherty, Dunne, Grant, Spring, Lewis, Angol (sub Ainsworth), Logan, Beavon. Substitutes not used: Harrison, Basey, Johnson, Oli, Kewley-Graham, McClure.