National League
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Bristol Rovers win 5-3 on penalties

Bristol Rovers 1-1 Grimsby Town (5-3 on penalties)

By Brendon MitchellBBC Sport
Bristol Rovers
The 2015 promotion final was played out in front of a Conference record 47,029 fans at Wembley

Bristol Rovers beat Grimsby Town on penalties to win the Conference promotion final and secure an instant return to the Football League.

The Mariners went ahead inside the opening two minutes at Wembley thanks to Lenell John-Lewis' bundled finish.

Bristol Rovers forward Ellis Harrison then slammed home an equaliser.

And, after a goalless second half and extra-time period, Lee Mansell scored the winning penalty after Jon-Paul Pittman blazed his spot-kick over.

It means Bristol Rovers, relegated from the fourth tier for the first time in 94 years only 12 months ago, are the first side to bounce straight back up from the Conference since 2005.

Ellis Harrison
Ellis Harrison scored his 14th goal of the season to get Bristol Rovers level against Grimsby

Under 37-year-old manager Darrell Clarke, they had recovered from picking up just one point from their first three matches of this campaign to launch a genuine title challenge, only losing out to champions Barnet on the final day of the season.

But they bounced back from that disappointment to register a 3-0 aggregate win over Forest Green in the play-off semi-finals, before again having to display great resilience to overturn an early deficit against the Mariners.

By contrast, Grimsby have been a non-league side since their relegation in 2010, and defeat by the Pirates marks their third successive play-off failure.

Jon-Paul Pittman
Jon-Paul Pittman had netted 10 times for Grimsby this season, but missed from the spot at Wembley

Paul Hurst's team had got off to a flying start in front of a Conference record crowd of 47,029 fans, going ahead after Nathan Arnold's driving run into the penalty area allowed John-Lewis to force the ball over the line at the second attempt.

The Mariners continued to press and Rovers goalkeeper Will Puddy survived a major scare when handling Ollie Palmer's shot outside the area, escaping with only a yellow card.

But Harrison, recalled after missing the semi-final second leg through suspension, lashed the ball in to restore parity after Grimsby had failed to clear Jake Gosling's corner.

Darrell Clarke
Darrell Clarke could not prevent Bristol Rovers being relegated from League Two last season

The frantic, open nature of the first period could not be matched by a tense and nervy goalless second - a theme that continued throughout extra time.

After Rovers boss Clarke had opted to change goalkeepers for the shootout - bringing Steve Mildenhall on to face his former club - the first five penalties were then all successful.

But Pittman blasted his effort over the crossbar and, after a further two spot-kicks were converted, Mansell fired into the top corner to send Rovers back up to the Football League at the first time of asking.

Grimsby Town boss Paul Hurst told BBC Radio Humberside:

"Devastated would be a good word. It wasn't our day. No matter what I say here it doesn't change the fact that we've lost the game and lost out on promotion back to the Football League that we all desperately craved.

"They are worthy of winning promotion because of how well they've done over the course of the season so congratulations to Bristol Rovers and in particular Darrell (Clarke) who has done a fantastic job.

"It's just a shame that we have people driving back to Cleethorpes or a lot of others that are based around the country that we couldn't make it a party night for everyone.

"I thanked everyone and told them how proud I am of every single player and not just the ones that have been on the pitch today."

Line-ups

Bristol Rovers

  • 25PuddyBooked at 18minsSubstituted forMildenhallat 120+1'minutes
  • 4Lockyer
  • 5McChrystal
  • 6Parkes
  • 3Brown
  • 11GoslingSubstituted forBalantaat 75'minutes
  • 14Lines
  • 7Mansell
  • 23Monkhouse
  • 17HarrisonSubstituted forBlissettat 80'minutes
  • 10TaylorBooked at 35mins

Substitutes

  • 1Mildenhall
  • 2Leadbitter
  • 8O Clarke
  • 27Blissett
  • 29Balanta

Grimsby

  • 1McKeown
  • 6MagnayBooked at 41mins
  • 22Nsiala
  • 5Pearson
  • 35RobertsonSubstituted forParslowat 74'minutes
  • 7Mackreth
  • 8Disley
  • 4BrownBooked at 87minsSubstituted forClayat 99'minutes
  • 20Arnold
  • 33PalmerSubstituted forPittmanat 70'minutes
  • 14John-Lewis

Substitutes

  • 10Hannah
  • 16Clay
  • 18Pittman
  • 19Parslow
  • 34Jolley
Attendance:
47,029

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Bristol Rovers 1(5), Grimsby Town 1(3).

  2. Penalties over

    Penalty Shootout ends, Bristol Rovers 1(5), Grimsby Town 1(3).

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(5), Grimsby Town 1(3). Lee Mansell (Bristol Rovers) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top right corner.

  4. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(4), Grimsby Town 1(3). Craig Clay (Grimsby Town) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

  5. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(4), Grimsby Town 1(2). Angelo Balanta (Bristol Rovers) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

  6. Post update

    Penalty missed! Bad penalty by Jon-Paul Pittman (Grimsby Town) left footed shot is too high. Jon-Paul Pittman should be disappointed.

  7. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(3), Grimsby Town 1(2). Lee Brown (Bristol Rovers) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the top left corner.

  8. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(2), Grimsby Town 1(2). Lenell John-Lewis (Grimsby Town) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the high centre of the goal.

  9. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(2), Grimsby Town 1(1). Matty Taylor (Bristol Rovers) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

  10. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(1), Grimsby Town 1(1). Craig Disley (Grimsby Town) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

  11. Goal!

    Goal! Bristol Rovers 1(1), Grimsby Town 1. Chris Lines (Bristol Rovers) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

  12. Penalties in progress

    Penalty Shootout begins Bristol Rovers 1, Grimsby Town 1.

  13. Post update

    Second Half Extra Time ends, Bristol Rovers 1, Grimsby Town 1.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Bristol Rovers. Steve Mildenhall replaces Will Puddy.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Bristol Rovers. Conceded by Carl Magnay.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Grimsby Town. Conceded by Tom Parkes.

  17. Post update

    Offside, Bristol Rovers. Matty Taylor tries a through ball, but Nathan Blissett is caught offside.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Jon-Paul Pittman (Grimsby Town).

  19. Post update

    Mark McChrystal (Bristol Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Chris Lines (Bristol Rovers) header from the left side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Tom Lockyer with a cross following a set piece situation.