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Rovers 0 Portsmouth 0

25 August 2018

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Rovers battled to a point at the Keepmoat Stadium against Sky Bet League One's early pace-setters Portsmouth, despite late drama which saw Ben Whiteman left to see out the game between the sticks.

Whiteman was forced to go in goal following the dismissal of Marko Marosi, with Rovers having made all three substitutions, but he helped his side see the game out to ensure they would earn a point for their efforts.

It was a bright start for the hosts against one of the division's early pace-setters, with Alfie May grabbing the game's first chance inside two minutes.

He opened up some space on the edge of the visitor's penalty area, turning and shooting on goal, only to see Pompey stopper Craig MacGillivray alert to deny May a first goal of the season.

Andy Butler would be next to go close for Rovers two minutes later, rising highest to meet Herbie Kane's corner, only to see his header drift just wide of the post.

Rovers were doing a lot of the early running, with Matty Blair being tripped by Anton Walkes on the edge of the box, opening up another chance for Rovers to score from a set-piece.

Whiteman stepped up to curl over the ball, but he was unable to keep his free-kick down, with his shot going just over the crossbar.

May would go even closer than his first effort moments later, as he found himself on the edge of the six-yard box in space after good work by John Marquis, only to see his shot stopped on the line by MacGillivray.

Mallik Wilks was next to get himself involved in the action as he cut inside onto his right foot, shooting from 20 yards out, however he could only guide his strike into the arms of the Pompey stopper who was being kept busy in the opening 15 minutes.

Rovers were in the ascendancy, with Whiteman and Kane linking up to create space for May in the area once more, only to see MacGillivray again get the better in the duel that was going on between the pair.

The Rovers' forward trio were causing all sort of problems for the Pompey defence, with Marquis playing the ball back for Wilks, however he was unable to connect properly and MacGillivray claimed the ball once more.

Whiteman would have one last chance before the interval, shooting just over the following another free-kick routine, however his effort from the edge of the box was over-hit and never looked like troubling the Pompey stopper.

Pompey started the second period much better, and Gareth Evans would be denied by a superb stop by Marosi, with the visiting skipper being denied after a wicked cross in by Ronan Curtis.

Marosi would have to be at his best minutes later, as he was quick to deny Brett Pitman and Evans once again with a brilliant double save.

The Rovers stopper got down well to Pitman's initial effort, before Evans followed up with the rebound, only to see Marosi deny him again before Butler cleared off the line.

There would be drama as the game entered the final 10 minutes however, and it would be Marosi right at the centre of it.

Pompey broke from a Rovers free-kick down the other end, with Curtis running through on goal, and with Niall Mason also tracking back, Marosi rushed out to try and stop the Irishman from scoring.

However, the referee judged he had handled in the process, leaving the man in the middle no option but to brandish the red card, and with Rovers having made their third substitution just 30 seconds before, it was left to Whiteman to see the game out between the sticks for the hosts.

Rovers would almost snatch the winner shortly after, with Tommy Rowe heading just wide of the near post from a Kane corner, before Whiteman was called into action down the other end, claiming the ball after a shot from Curtis.

Rovers would see the game out however to claim a hard-fought point against a Portsmouth side who would drop points for the first time all season in Sky Bet League One.

They return to home action on Tuesday night, this time in the Carabao Cup, when they host fellow League One side Blackpool in the second round at the Keepmoat Stadium.


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