The Shakers fell to a 2-1 defeat at the Memorial Stadium, despite taking the lead after 55 minutes through captain Neil Danns. However, a goal from Dom Telford, and a soft Chris Lines penalty, ensured that Ryan Lowe’s side left Bristol empty handed.
A rather scrappy opening 5 minutes saw some brilliant defending from Nathan Cameron, putting in an exceptionally timed slide tackle to stop Nicholls getting in 1-on-1 with Shakers shot-stopper Connor Ripley.
Rovers kept applying some early pressure, Nicholls again looking to breach the back line, but youngster Ryan Cooney did superbly to get across and cover, as his well-timed block sent the ball out for a corner.
The Shakers came forward too, with Harry Bunn and George Miller linking up, but the one-two was snuffed out by the hosts’ defence.
Former Shaker Kyle Bennett was looking to create down the left-hand-side, he cut inside and played the ball to Chris Lines about 30 yards from goal. He lined his effort up, but he fired wide of Ripley’s goal. He quickly followed this up with another long-range effort, but again, the same outcome as the game remained goalless after 20 minutes.
Bennett continued to pull the strings in midfield for Bristol Rovers, his through ball for Nicholls was good, but Ripley was alert and off his line quickly to prevent Nicholls getting on the end of the ball. Ripley was called into similar action again in the opening 45 as long balls over the top to Nicholls had to be cleared.
Ryan Lowe’s side continued to create chances of their own.; Zeli Ismail’s weaving run allowed him to set up Neil Danns to hit the ball from outside the area, however it was blocked well by Rovers’ defence.
Leigh was next with some good play down the left to beat his man, his ball was brilliant, but unfortunately just over the head of Miller, as Rovers took no chances, conceding a corner as Ismail was lurking at the back post.
Skipper for the day Neil Danns almost gave the visitors the lead in spectacular fashion as Ismail whipped in a corner that found an unmarked Danns at the back post, but Sam Slocombe in the Rovers’ goal pulled off a brilliant one-handed save at his top left-hand corner to keep the first-time volley out.
The first half came to a close with a corner to Bristol Rovers, Clarke managed to clear the ball to Miller as the referee’s whistle sounded.
Half Time: Bristol Rovers 0 Bury 0
It was almost the perfect start to the half for Kyle Bennett, his fierce strike from 30 yards looked destined for the top corner, but the upright was there to intervene, leaving both sides still searching for the opening goal.
Minutes later the search was over! Neil Danns curled the Shakers ahead from 12 yards. The ball came in from a Callum Styles corner, Bunn’s original effort was blocked, but Danns swooped in to fire the loose ball down to Slocombe’s left.
Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long as 10 minutes later, Rovers were level through Dom Telford, just two minutes after his introduction. He was found by Bennett, and from inside the 18-yard box, he was able to put the ball beyond Connor Ripley in the Shakers’ goal.
In the aftermath to Rovers’ equaliser, Cameron went down holding his ankle and he was unable to continue on a cold Good Friday afternoon.
Bristol Rovers started to push for a winner, but Adam Thompson was there, putting his body on the line twice to make the block and keep the scores level as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Ellis Harrison was the next Rovers’ player to try and put them ahead for the first time in the match, but his right footed effort from the edge of the area was low, but Ripley was down to his left to turn the ball behind for a corner which was subsequently cleared by Clarke.
Rovers took a late lead as Chris Lines sent Ripley the wrong way from the penalty spot. Referee Lee Collins pointed to the spot after Kyle Bennett went down in the area.
The Shakers responded well, keeping the pressure on Rovers, with Ryan Lowe coming on the pitch himself. Neil Danns went close, he cut in on his right but his low effort from 18 yards was kept out by Slocombe.
Bristol Rovers managed to withstand the late Shakers pressure and hold on to a 2-1 lead and claim all 3 points on a wet Good Friday afternoon.
Full Time: Bristol Rovers 2 Bury 1
Official Attendance: 9030 (124 travelling Shakers)
Bristol Rovers: Sam Slocombe, Tom Lockyer ( C ), Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harrison (Rory Gaffney 90+2’), Tom Nicholls (Dom Telford 63’), Chris Lines, Marc Bola, Joe Partington, Bernard Mensah (Byron Moore 63’), Tony Craig, Kyle Bennett
Unused Subs: Adam Smith (GK), Ryan Sweeney, Luke Russe, Cameron Hargreaves
Bury: Connor Ripley, Greg Leigh, Zeli Ismail (Jay O’Shea 78’), Josh Laurent, George Miller, Callum Styles, Nathan Cameron (Adam Thompson 68’), Ryan Cooney, Neil Danns ( C ), Harry Bunn, Peter Clarke (Ryan Lowe 90’)
Unused Subs: Joe Murphy (GK), Andrew Tutte, Danny Mayor, Rohan Ince