v Roman Glass St George (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Div – 11 Jan 2022)




“One swallow does not a summer make” is an old expression. In football parlance that could be translated as “one victory does not a recovery make”. Ultimately, despite a performance of spirit and enthusiasm, Rovers were unable to overcome a Roman Glass team that was far too streetwise to be picked off the way Shrivenham had been three days earlier.

Manager Neil Mustoe kept faith with the team which had started against Shrivy apart from bringing in Sam Mendes for the unavailable Ashley Davies. The visitors had already beaten Tuffley 4-1 at Almondsbury two months earlier and were looking to add to the five previous occasions this season in which they had picked up all three points in away league fixtures, one of which had been a commendable 3-1 win at Brimscombe & Thrupp in November.

Just as on Saturday, Rovers were awarded a free-kick on the right in the opening minute, but this time it did not lead to a dramatic start to the match. The opening minutes were rather frantic with the ball pinging around to all corners of the pitch. Roman Glass made some early inroads down the right, in which the speed and close ball control of Aaron Goulty was a feature and he would have plenty more to contribute as the opening half continued.

The Glass won a corner on the left but sixty seconds later Rovers had a corner on the right after a strong run down the left by Lewis Bainbridge. Another sixty seconds later and the visitors won another corner on the left and when Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist’s flag-kick came across Ciaran Greening was unchallenged as he jumped to head the ball firmly into the net before home goalkeeper Jack Copland knew what was happening.

Goulty’s trickery soon won his team a free-kick just outside the penalty-area on the left. The ball was whipped in and as Copland struggled to claim it Loui Ward pounced to drive the loose ball into the roof of the net.

It would soon get even worse for the hosts. Another trip on Goulty, by Mendes, saw a spot-kick awarded but Copland chose the right way and dived low to his right to make a thrilling save from the penalty-kick.

Shortly before the half-time break Rovers had a decent chance to pull a goal back but Jacob Geddes could only direct his header wide of the posts when Josh Aldridge’s free-kick came in from the left.

The visitors brought on Shacquille Smith and Jake White at the start of the second half and it wasn’t long before Rovers put Joe Shutt on in place of Liam Wright.

Lewis Bainbridge, who had been involved in much of Rovers’ attacking play, found another opportunity to cut in from the left but fired over the crossbar and his evening was soon over when Jack Beardsell replaced him. Rovers’ final throw of the substitution dice came when Jamal Lawrence came on for Joel White. There was a chance shortly after, when a delightful through-pass sent Shutt through on goal but Ross Grimshaw came off his line quickly to block the ball.

The Glass were nowhere near as threatening as they had been in the in the first half but could still move the ball around quickly with Goulty still seeing a lot of the action. He would be involved in the final decisive act of the evening when Shutt tripped him to concede another penalty. Goulty took this one himself and drove the ball confidently past Copland’s right-hand side.

Rovers won a late corner but the ball was cleared and the game was over. Was this a surprise result? Not really. The defensive deficiencies Rovers had shown in the weeks leading up to this match were again apparent, but the players worked hard and there was no shame in losing to good opponents who were strong in defence and inventive in attack, with Goulty being their Man of the Match by a considerable margin. The Glass look very comfortable in mid-table but Tuffley know that they still have plenty to do to ensure that they are still playing in the same division next season. On a cold evening, this was a pretty decent match to watch and an excellent crowd of over a hundred for a midweek game indicated that the locals thought so too.