GASHEADS exhaled a huge sigh of relief as Bristol Rovers finally secured League One status with a hard-fought draw away to Fleetwood last Saturday, writes Stephen Knowlson.

Earlier in the season we had taken three points from our home fixture against Joey Barton’s Cod Army and the home side were clearly in the mood for revenge as they started off on the front foot.

Bristol Rovers’ excellent on-loan keeper, Jack Bonham, had to be alert to keep out two Fleetwood efforts, saving from Ashley Hunter and Ched Evans in quick succession. After this early flurry of home pressure, Rovers slowly grew into the game with Liam Sercombe forcing a smart save from Alex Cairns in the home goal with a trademark piledriver from range.

Evans then put a free header over the bar as the first half finished goalless.

The second 45 was played in increasingly challenging conditions as a gusty wind blew in from the Irish Sea but both sides still had chances to win the game. Fleetwood sub Paddy Madden struck the post on 72 minutes with a low strike and Rovers midfielder Ollie Clarke reciprocated when his shot from range came back off Cairns’ left-hand post.

There were late chances for Sercombe and Evans but the game finished all-square with Rovers gaining that all-important point ensuring that we will be plying our trade in the third tier again next season.

Such is the tightness in the bottom half of League One this campaign, having to rely on a last-day result would’ve been a horrible, nerve-shredding experience, especially with our poor home form and a final game against high-flying Barnsley.

But that’s no longer a concern as Graham Coughlan and his men have done what they needed to in order to preserve our League One status. At times it hasn’t been pretty but it’s important to remember that when Coughlan took over Rovers were four points from safety, low on confidence and struggling to score goals. Bringing in Jonson Clarke-Harris was a masterstroke and the manager also tightened up our defence in the post-Darrell Clarke era.

Gasheads can now relax and enjoy our end-of-season encounter with promoted Barnsley on Sunday – perhaps we can even do ex-Gas favourite Lee Brown a favour by beating the Tykes and helping his Pompey team grab automatic promotion!