Bristol Rovers 2-1 Blackpool: 10-men Seasiders taste defeat in David Dunn's first game in caretaker charge

Ben Heneghan's sending off turned out to be the turning point in the gameBen Heneghan's sending off turned out to be the turning point in the game
Ben Heneghan's sending off turned out to be the turning point in the game
David Dunn tasted defeat in his first game as caretaker manager as the 10 men of Blackpool lost late on at Bristol Rovers.
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The managerless Seasiders squandered an early lead for the second game running, Gary Madine giving them the lead after just two minutes.

But the game turned on its head on the stroke of half-time when Ben Heneghan was shown a straight red card.

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The Gas, who were without a win in 14 prior to this game, took until the 73rd minute to get back on level terms, before winning it with only six minutes remaining.

The result, Pool’s first game since the sacking of Simon Grayson, means the Seasiders have now only won one of their last 13 games.

It also means Pool, who have lost eight of their last 10 league games, are still without an away win since Doncaster Rovers in September.

Dunn made three changes to the Pool side in his first game in charge as caretaker boss.

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One was enforced, with Matty Virtue replacing skipper Jay Spearing who was ruled out with concussion.

Elsewhere, James Husband and Calum Macdonald came into the side in place of Ollie Turton and Marc Bola - who both dropped down to the bench.

Jak Alnwick (arm) and Sullay Kaikai (groin/abductor) remain sidelined with injuries, while the likes of Mark Howard, Jordan Thorniley, Ryan Edwards, Ben Garrity and Sean Scannell all missed out.

Despite conceding a corner inside the opening 15 seconds, it was the Seasiders who got off to the dream start in the stormy conditions.

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Connor Ronan delivered a low cross in from the right which got caught up in the wind before landing at the feet of Gary Madine, who slammed home an emphatic first-time finish into the roof of the net.

With Storm Dennis causing havoc every time the ball went up in the air, it was imperative the Seasiders got the ball down and attempted to play passing football.

That’s what led to a half-chance of sorts on 10 minutes, when the returning Macdonald - in for his first start since Ipswich in November - overlapped Virtue down the left before delivering a dangerous cross that was headed behind at the back post.

The hosts had what looked to be fairly strong penalty appeals turned down after 14 minutes when dangerman Jonson Clarke-Harris went down in the box under pressure from Husband,

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But referee Brett Huxtable remain unmoved and allowed the game to continue, much to the anger of the home faithful.

Chris Maxwell was almost caught out by the swirling wind as Ed Upson delivered an inswinging free kick that the keeper had to boot away.

Going forward, Pool continued to look dangerous from wide areas, Madine almost beating the goalkeeper to Macdonald’s near-post cross.

Pool began to ramp up the pressure before the half-hour mark, Liam Feeney seeing a corner cause havoc inside the six-yard box before the home side somehow managed to scramble their lines clear.

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Armand Gnanduillet then had the opportunity to slip strike partner Madine clean through on goal after outmuscling his marker only to overhit his pass, which ran through to the keeper.

Bristol Rovers came close to a leveller eight minutes before the interval, Mark Little powering a rising effort just past the post, with Maxwell at full stretch.

The half ended on a sour note for the Seasiders when Ben Heneghan was shown a straight red card for a needless foul on Clarke-Harris.

The centre back, who will now miss next weekend’s trip to AFC Wimbledon, was penalised for going straight through the back of the Bristol Rovers man by the touchline.

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Dunn wasted no time in switching things up, making a double change at the break with Ollie Turton and Nathan Delfouneso replacing Connor Ronan and goalscorer Madine.

It left the Seasiders with a lack of height in their back four but, with no other centre backs on the bench, it left them with no other option.

Despite being a man down, the Seasiders went in search of a second goal and they had three priceless chances to do so.

Blackman was involved in all three, tipping Gnanduillet’s looping header over the bar before denying Virtue twice in quick succession.

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The home side returned with some pressure of their own, but all in all the Seasiders appeared to be dealing with it fairly well by taking the sting out of the game.

But there was absolutely nothing they could have done about Bristol Rovers’ leveller on 73 minutes, which came from the boot of defender Alfie Kilgour.

The defender had time to pick his spot and that’s exactly what he did, finding the top corner from all of 30 yards.

The Gas almost completed their turnaround four minutes later but Macdonald saved Pool’s blushes, clearing off the line from Clarke-Harris’ header.

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They didn’t have to wait much longer though, Ben Garner’s men getting the decisive second with six minutes left.

It came with a huge slice of luck too, Clarke-Harris’ 30-yard effort taking a touch off substitute Josh Ginnelly, who had attempted to control the ball, only to see his ricochet wrongfoot Maxwell and roll into the back of the net.

Pool ought to have snatched a point in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time when Delfouneso was sent clean through on goal, but he somehow managed to shoot wide - condemning the Seasiders to another costly defeat.


Bristol Rovers: Blackman, Little, Ogogo (Abraham), Craig, Upson, Clarke, Leahy, Kilgour, Mitchell-Lawson (Barrett), Rodman (Ginnelly), Clarke-Harris

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Subs not used: van Stappershoef, Holmes-Dennis, Menayese, Hargreaves

Blackpool: Maxwell, Moore, Heneghan, Husband, Macdonald, Feeney, Virtue, Ronan (Turton), Dewsbury-Hall, Madine (Delfouneso), Gnanduillet (Nuttall)

Subs not used: Sims, Bola, Howe, Ward

Referee: Brett Huxtable