Bristol Rovers progressed to the final of the Isle of Man International Football Festival, where they will meet Group B winners Rushden and Diamonds, following the Gas’ 4-2 win over Wrexham at a wet and windy
The Pirates, playing uphill an with a ferocious wind and driving rain behind them in the first half, were slowly out of the blocks as the Welsh side played the ball around well on the greasy surface.
In the third minute Danny Williams blazed a 20-yarder over for Wrexham, then five minutes later Chris Llewellyn saw his volley from the edge of the box well saved by Kevin Miller in the Rovers goal.
Andy Holt, Levi Mackin and Llewellyn all failed to convert half-chances for the Red Dragons before Rovers took the lead against the run of play in the 30th minute.
Man of the match Ali Gibb, pushing up from his right-back berth, crossed a low ball in and while the Wrexham back-line stood and watched Richard Walker slid in to fire home from six yards out.
Six minutes later Wrexham found themselves further behind as Junior Agogo put the Gas 2-0 up with his last touch of the game.
Wrexham hauled themselves back into the contest with a first-half injury time penalty from ex-Spurs star Chris Armstrong.
From a Llewellyn corner Rovers centre-half Chris Edwards was penalised for climbing all over Brian Carey’s back, referee Gary Lewis having no hesitation in correctly pointing to the spot. Armstrong coolly tucked the penalty away, sending Miller the wrong way with a low, hard finish.
Wrexham made five changes at the interval and just five minutes after the re-start it was two substitutes who combined as Hector Sam was just unable to connect with a raking through ball from Steve Roberts.
In the 55th minute Rovers regained their two goal advantage, the Wrexham defence again reacting slowly as Haldane nodded home from close range following a Gibb cross.
The Red Dragons again upped their game having gone two behind, Jim Whitley forcing a diving save from Miller with a 20-yard free-kick and Sam blasting a long-range snap-shot marginally wide of Miller’s near-post.
Wrexham pulled the score back to 3-2 in the 62nd minute as Armstrong scored his second of the match, meeting Simon Spender’s right-wing cross with a towering header low into the bottom corner.
Rovers yet again restored their two-goal advantage in the 66th minute with a fortunate goal. A Paul Trollope inswinging corner hit Red Dragons’ centre-half Roberts, the ball appearing to deflect off Rovers’ Steve Elliott before finding finally finding it’s way into the Welshmen’s net.
Wrexham were unable to make any headway in the last quarter against a well-organised Rovers outfit, even when Rovers were reduced to ten men with eight minutes left as Craig Disley limped off with the Gas having used their five allowed substitutions.
Sam and Armstrong went closest in the last few minutes with a long-ranger and header respectively but Rovers never looked like conceding another.
While Rovers wait for Saturday’s final at the Bowl in
Kevin Miller, Ali Gibb (Dave Savage 57), Jon Beswetherick, Chris Edwards (Craig Hinton 57), John Anderson, Steve Elliott, Stewart Campbell (Paul Trollope 57), James Hunt, Junior Agogo (Lewis Haldane 37), Richard Walker (Ryan Williams 77), Craig Disley.
Unused subs : Ryan Clarke + Jamie Forrester.
Matt Baker, Simon Spender, Levi Mackin, Danny Williams (Jim Whitley 46), Brian Carey (Craig Morgan 46), Dennis Lawrence (Steve Roberts 46), Andy Holt, Shaun Pejic, Chris Armstrong, Darren Ferguson (Mark Jones 46), Chris Llewellyn (Hector Sam 46).
Unused subs : None
Referee : Gary Lewis.
Tim Graham (thetashkentterror)