This game may not have been of the highest quality but it contained more drama than a whole series of Game of Thrones.
Rovers began well and thought they’d scored through John Marquis only for the effort to be ruled out for an apparent handball. They then suffered a blow when Marko Marosi was forced off; caught in the face by Mathieu Baudry’s stray boot he appeared to have sustained an eye injury. His replacement, Ross Etheridge, looked as nervous as a fawn in a tigers’ enclosure and sliced a clearance to Padraig Amond, whose snap shot hit a post and rebounded to safety.
Straight away Rovers took the lead. They broke quickly and James Coppinger’s pinpoint centre was nodded in by Marquis – the striker’s tenth league goal of the campaign. But the visitors were level by the break. Baudry rather clumsily pushed Amond in the box and the striker stepped up to score from the spot, although only after Etheridge had undergone treatment on a finger which it transpired was broken.
The second half saw Rovers swarm around the Hartlepool area like wasps around an August picnic, but the final ball was often missing and the fear of a sucker punch was ever present. Both Coppinger and the excellent Jordan Houghton had shots saved. But, just when a draw looked inevitable, Matty Blair’s ball found Marquis in space. He burst into the area, drew the ‘keeper and slipped the ball to Liam Mandeville who scored from close range.
by John Coyle