Ellery Balcombe – 8
The Gas might have suffered from a nightmare start, but Balcombe made a couple of great saves in the first two minutes, denying Cameron Humphreys and Cameron Burgess in quick succession. He made a succession of easy saves before excelling in the second half and avoiding a fearsome Nathan Broadhead drive from 10 yards out. It built on a great performance last time out and it would have been a much different game without the first few saves from him.
His instructions were clearly to follow Marcus Harness as he came on, leaving Leif Davis wide open at Ipswich left, but Gibbons dutifully did his job until he was switched to left-centre when Barton changed formation in the second half. The quality wasn’t always there in possession, but he never lacked for grit and determination.
He could have scored his first senior goal when Evans struck a fine cross over his head from a corner, but he was unable to keep his effort under the bar from six yards. He defended aggressively and seemed to enjoy dueling him with Freddie Ladapo. He made a crucial block in the last 10 minutes to deny Broadhead what looked like a sure goal.
There were always going to be moments of harem fear, but Connolly put his head where it hurts and helped keep a clean sheet against one of the best attacks in the league.
His best performance for the Gas? Quite possibly. He showed the composure he has occasionally lacked and kept two very dangerous wingers quiet in the form of Wes Burns and Kyle Edwards.
Grant Ward – 8
A no-frills display from the central midfielder, who controlled the space in front of the defense very well. Many of Rovers’ possessions were sloppy or rushed, but they were structurally excellent and Ward was at the heart of that.
Lamare Bogardge – 7
He showed he belongs in the starting XI on his full debut, engaging in a fine battle with veteran winger Sone Aluko, and the Aston Villa prospect brought out the best in his man. He displayed moments of tenacity, quality and composure to help hold off Ipswich in his 75 minutes in the park.
A rambling run that took three Ipswich defenders out of the game before passing a ball to Collins was typical of last season’s Evans. His delivery from set pieces was again a source of frustration, but he gave it his absolute all and Rovers benefited enormously from him turning around in midfield.
He returned to the starting eleven to great effect in a game made for him. His arranged runs back and forth as a winger and winger brought security and a threat of attack on the right side. A touch of finesse and precision at times was all that a great performance lacked.
He remained sensibly fit most of the time, but moved forward effectively when he could. He thought he put Rovers ahead when he pounced on Christian Walton’s spill of Collins’ cross, but the wizard’s flag was kept low. However, he made a great defensive contribution when he stole the ball from the toes of Kyle Edwards when he looked ready to score.
Aaron Collins (c) – 7
Cutting a lone figure at times early on, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing with Collins’ particular skill set; he is at his best when he isolates defenders. He saw a couple of half chances in the first half coming his way, but he couldn’t take any of them in stride, making it very difficult to generate power or accuracy. Despite being the lone striker, he demanded an excellent performance from the Ipswich centre-backs to keep him off the scoreboard.
Luca Hoole (for Anderson at 76′) – 7
He held his own firmly against the Ipswich wingers as Rovers came under intense pressure late on.
Josh Coburn (for Bogarde at 76′) – 6
He looked a little short of canter when pressing, but a little more care on a pass from Collins and he would have had a golden opportunity to win it in stoppage time.
Not used: Ansi Jaakkola, Calum Macdonald, Jerry Lawrence, Luke McCormick, John Marquis.
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