REPORT: Wanderers 1 Bristol Rovers 1

Wanderers left it late but again showed their never-say-die spirit as Dion Charles came good in injury time to earn his side a point.

Anything less would have been a travesty as the Whites spent the best part of 90 minutes trying to make amends for conceding another early goal with a dominant display.

Ian Evatt’s men spent most of the second half camped in the visitors’ half as they looked to play their way to parity.

And their persistence and patience finally paid off in stoppage time when Charles curled in a perfectly-placed equaliser to claim his seventh goal of the season and keep Wanderers in the thick of the action in fifth place in the table.

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The striker started the game on the bench following a recent dry run but showed his predatory instincts are still intact as Wanderers followed up their fightback at Fleetwood a fortnight ago with another big finish to keep moving forward.

Wanderers were missing captain Ricardo Almeida Santos through illness as Gethin Jones took the armband and Eoin Toal made an impressive first league start.

But the re-shuffled defence was breached with just a minute gone as Rovers came flying out the blocks when Aaron Collins was released down the right-hand side to drive in a low cross which Josh Coburn forced home from close range.

The early goal unsettled Wanderers before a swift counter-attack of their own with 10 minutes gone saw an Elias Kachunga effort tipped over the top by James Belshaw as the momentum began to swing.

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It stayed that way for most of the remainder of a lively and sometimes feisty first half but despite growing pressure - and Aaron Morley pinging passes to all quarters - the Whites couldn’t get themselves level by the break.

Dapo Afolayan sent one effort just over the top and then just before half-time the ever-dangerous Conor Bradley picked out Jon Dadi Bodvarsson for an effort the Icelander couldn’t steer past Belshaw.

Bodvarsson’s night didn’t last much longer as a painful blow to the face 10 minutes into the second half brought the Whites’ second enforced change of the night following George Thomason’s earlier withdrawal with a knee injury.

And with just under half an hour to go Evatt made a third switch as he sent on Amadou Bakayoko to try and turn growing pressure into a goal.

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Bakayoko added to the threat and had the ball in the net but from an offside position and it was increasingly one-way traffic as Wanderers began to lay siege on the visitors’ penalty area.

Rovers had something to hang onto, though, and as well as breaking up play at every opportunity limited Wanderers’ clear sights of goal until Charles pounced on a defensive slip with 15 minutes to go.

The substitute raced clear but couldn’t beat Belshaw who turned his effort past the post to preserve the visitors’ lead.

Kieran Sadlier then saw an effort blocked in front of goal as Wanderers tried everything to force the breakthrough.

Bakayoko was a constant handful and MJ Williams also underlined the strength of Wanderers’ options from the bench by driving the Whites forward from midfield.

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And their collective efforts were finally rewarded three minutes into the stoppage time with another crucial late goal.

Wanderers had forced a succession of corners and this time the ball was delivered back in by Morley for Charles, who showed admirable composure to steady himself and take aim before curling a perfect finish arcing into the top corner to end things on another high.

Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Toal, Johnston; Bradley, Morley, Thomason (Williams 36) Johnston, Beck (Sadlier 72); Kachunga (Bakayoko 63); Afolayan, Bodvarsson (Charles 54). Substitutes: Sheehan, Iredale, Lee.

Booked: Thomason

Bristol Rovers: Belshaw; Thomas, Connolly, Gibson; Sinclair, Evans, Rossiter, Finley, Clarke (Gibbons 68); Collins (McCormick 90), Rossiter. Substitutes: Jaakkola, Kilgour, Marquis, Saunders, Whelan.

Booked: Gibson, Finley, Clarke.

Referee: Ollie Yates

Attendance: 16,786 (775 Bristol Rovers)

Read Time: 4 mins