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BRISTOL ROVERS 3 CITY 3
James Hanson’s first goal for 17 games earned City a point in a topsy-turvy encounter with Bristol Rovers.
But the game finished in heated fashion with red cards for Nathan Doyle and Rovers midfielder Wayne Brown after a late skirmish on the touchline.
Hanson got on the scoresheet for the first time since mid-September with a close-range header.
It was City’s third equaliser but they will head home feeling they should have got a first ever away win at Bristol Rovers after a hugely-eventful afternoon at the Memorial Stadium played throughout in pouring rain.
Guy Branston lined up against his former team – and made an incredible by scoring with his first touch in a Rover shirt.
Branston beat Carl McHugh to head home Jim Paterson’s corner inside the opening minute before City had even seen any possession.
The visitors cleared their heads after that terrible start and enjoyed plenty of possession. Nahki Wells, Will Atkinson – who should have stopped Branston’s header on the line - and Hanson all had chances to restore parity.
The equaliser arrived after 29 minutes when Atkinson threaded a pass through for Wells to finish with style from the corner of the box.
But within three minutes Rovers were back in front. Gary Jones gave the ball away and Tom Eaves held off Stephen Darby to beat Matt Duke at his near post.
City were paying the price for slack defending and had work to do after the break.
Thompson straight away fired wide and Hanson’s downward header nearly slithered through the fingers of keeper Sam Walker.
The pressure was growing and City got their reward with a second goal after 55 minutes as Jones’s corner was met with a bullet header by teenager McHugh.
But once again they were not level for long. Seven minutes later it was 3-2 to Rovers as Michael Smith drove through a crowd of players from the edge of the box.
Duke denied Seanan Clucas a Rovers fourth – a crucial save as City hit back yet again in the 68th minute.
It was a special moment for Hanson as he converted Thompson’s cross for his first goal in 17 games.
There was drama in stoppage time as tempers boiled over following Brown’s foul on James Meredith.
Players from both teams got involved and Doyle and Brown were both dismissed when referee David Phillips restored order.
Brown sent off as well for initial foul on Meredith that sparked the trouble. Already been booked.
Doyle still arguing his case, reluctant to leave the pitch. Needs to be careful not to make it worse.
Doyle is sent off.
All kicking off now on the touchline, players everywhere. Doyle has to be dragged away by McHugh.
Crowd going bonkers as Rovers try to break clear but play is brought back for offside on say-so of linesman.
Home crowd cranking up the volume as fourth official indicates five added minutes.
Clucas and Atkinson get involved in bout of handbags and shirt-tugging which ends with yellow card for Rovers player.
City corner and Walker misses punch totally but baled out by defender. Jones corners have been a threat all second half.
Rovers f-k 30 yards but wasted totally. Instead of skidding it on the soaked pitch and testing keeper, Clucas puts it high and wide.
Hanson and Branston get talking to from the ref. Ends with a friendly pat on the back from both players.
Duke very positive off his line to clear from Anyinsah. Takes a hefty kick for his troubles and Bristol Rovers striker booked.
City's second sub as Wells makes way for Connell, seven minutes left.
McHugh booked for foul on Clucas.
Thompson being replaced by Ritchie Jones, 77min
The rain still blitzing down. McArdle slides across to tackle Eaves in a spray of water #bcafc— @ParkerTandA 24 November 2012
Jones dangerous corner which McHugh reaches with a sliding volley that is not far away. Mad game.
As it stands, a goal would put us back in the autos. Big 25 minutes. #bcafc— @markyoung1990 24 November 2012
Thompson has his critics but he played his part in Hanson's goal with the type of cross that centre forwards live for.
The drought is finally over as James HANSON scores for the first time since September 18. Thompson's cross is right on the button and the big man does the rest with his head. It's 3-3 and surely City aren't going to throw it away again.
Duke makes good save from Clucas to stop it going 4-2
Just when City are getting in the ascendancy, they go behind for third time. Shot in box is blocked but Michael SMITH drills it back through a crowd of players.
We'll win this now...surely #bcafc— @tjroche 24 November 2012
Pause in play for Meredith to get treatment for bang on head. At the same time, Jones ran into the ref and nearly took him out!
That goal's been coming with the growing City pressure and there's no reason why they cannot go on and win now against a nervy home side. Having said that, cannot afford any more slackness at the other end.
City are level again! Another corner and Jones's kick is headed home by McHUGH
Wayne Brown receives the afternoon's first yellow card for a tug on Jones.
City shout for handball ignored.
Hanson downward header skims off keeper's gloves as City push for another equaliser with back-to-back corners.
Come on you yellloowwwssssssssssss #bcafc #bighalf #feedthenahk— @jfa1211 24 November 2012
Today's crowd is 5,092 with 310 City fans.
Thompson with early chance wide in first 20 sec of second half.
HT 2-1 to Bristol Rovers and City paying price for slack defending. McHugh easily beaten in air by Branston for first goal which Atkinson should have stopped on the line. Then Jones gives ball away cheaply for Eaves to get the second just three minutes after City had fought their way back into it.
But within three minutes it's 2-1 to Rovers. Again slack play at the back as this time Jones gives ball away and EAVES makes him pay in bottom corner.
City level after 29 minutes, it's been coming. Atkinson through pass and WELLS coolly finishes his 14th goal of the season.
Thompson forces hurried clearance from Branston. Wells cross picks out Hanson but ball won't come down for him to hit shot properly.
City enjoying plenty of possession but Rovers made a couple of important blocks from shots.
Would you believe it? City concede a corner after 30 seconds and BRANSTON heads home with his first touch for Bristol Rovers.
It's Garry Thompson's 32nd birthday today and the right winger has just received a dedication on the tannoy from his team-mates.
Guy Branston came straight into the Bristol Rovers side to face his former team after signing a month's loan from Aldershot.
Branston had sat on the bench a fortnight ago when the Bantams won 2-0 at the EBB Stadium.
BRISTOL ROVERS: Walkder, Woodards, Branston, Kenneth, Paterson, Smith, W Brown, Clucas, Riordan, Anyinsah, Eaves. Subs: Gill, L Brown, Norburn, Harding, Lockyer, Santos, Gough.
Winger Blair Turgott was on the bench as City look for their first away win against Bristol Rovers today.
But the other deadline day loan signing, centre half Curtis Good, did not make the trip after feeling a tight hamstring.
There was the one enforced change from the win against Plymouth as Carl McHugh came in for the unfortunate John Egan.
Rovers have been struggling and boss Mark McGhee has come under increasing pressure. But history was on their side - City have never beaten away from Valley Parade in ten previous attempts, losing the last nine.
CITY: Duke, Darby, McArdle, McHugh, Meredith, Thompson, G Jones, Doyle, Atkinson, Wells, Hanson. Subs: Ravenhill, R Jones, Forsyth, Connell, Naylor, Turgott, McLaughlin
RIGHT, thankfully we're working again fingers crossed. Apologies for the technical problems in first half but hopefully sorted now.
Will re-send some of the messages that should have gone out earlier.
3:45pm Sat 24 Nov 12
Get shut of Thompson. Not delivered the goods and has had his chances due to injuries. Should have played the new boy.
It's going to be great to see the #bcafc mob fill the #Awayend proper club fans. Have a safe trip down and see you in the warmup for a clap.— @Brano1979 24 November 2012