Opposition view: Frustrated Clarke believes Rovers would have beaten Cobblers ‘nine out of 10 times’

Referee Eddie Ilderton has a chat with Rovers boss Darrell Clarke
Referee Eddie Ilderton has a chat with Rovers boss Darrell Clarke

Frustration was the overriding emotion for Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke after his side were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by the Cobblers on Saturday.

Despite leading through Kyle Bennett’s 34th minute opener and then having the advantage of playing the last 20 minutes against 10 men, Rovers were left ruing two points that got away at full-time as Town held on for a draw.

Some of our play was very good and, nine times out of 10, we win that football match. We just needed a little bit more quality and better finishing.

Kevin Luckassen, on just seconds earlier for his debut for the club, headed Northampton level around the hour-mark and the visitors also had to deal with Matt Crooks’ late red card before being able to celebrate an important point in their relegation battle.

For Rovers, it represents two points dropped as they look to sneak into the League One play-off picture after a good run of form since the turn of the year.

“Frustrating is the word and I’m probably more frustrated with the last 20 minutes when we didn’t do enough against them when they had 10 men, albeit they sat in with low blocks,” said Clarke afterwards.

“We still had enough chances to wrap up the game, the second goal was always going to be crucial. They score with their first proper effort.

“I’m just very frustrated. Do I think the players could have given anymore? Quality wise, yes, but the effort was all there. I thought we played some lovely football, especially first-half, we opened them up.

“Their keeper has made two or three great saves, it’s one of those days really where you want something to hit the back of the net.

“Fair play to Northampton, they’re fighting for their lives and they dug in.”

Rovers had the better of the first-half on Saturday and their lead at half-time, handed to them by Bennett’s close-range finish, was warranted on the balance of play.

“We were really good on a difficult surface,” continued Clarke. “We went to a diamond to change things up which probably gave them a bit of a curveball because they couldn’t deal with it, certainly for a lot of spells in the first-half. I thought Bennett was excellent in the hole and caused them a lot of problems.

“Some of our play was very good and, nine times out of 10, we win that football match. We just needed a little bit more quality and better finishing.

“Ellis Harrison had a great chance from six yards, Dom Telford forced a great save and Liam Sercombe had a great strike that just went wide so it’s one of those. We could have been better and asked more questions but they held on and fair play to them.”