Bristol Rovers succumbed to a second defeat at the hands of Ipswich Town in the space of three weeks to leave them still searching for a first win of the season.
The Gas lost 3-0 at Portman Road in the Carabao Cup First Round earlier this month and could not stop a repeat result, this time losing 2-0 thanks to a Max Ehmer own goal and a Jon Nolan strike at the Memorial Stadium.
Both sides observed a minute silence to acknowledge the passing of Rovers’ former Chief Executive Gordon Bennett who died on Friday morning.
Rovers made just the one change from the side that drew with Sunderland on opening day. Ed Upson came into the Rovers midfield to replace Sam Nicholson with Zain Westbrooke taking up a more advanced role on the right of the Rovers front three.
It was the away side who had the better of the early exchanges, getting in behind the Rovers back line on more than one occasion in the opening quarter but Rovers were resilient defensively to withstand the early pressure.
The best chance of the first half for the home side came just before the half hour mark, defender Alfie Kilgour nearly getting on the end of a Zain Westbrooke driven free kick but the Bristolian could not get a decisive touch to prod it home.
It was a pretty uneventful half, with the stoppage of play for home keeper Anssi Jaakkola to attend to a loose stud in his right boot being one of the more intriguing moments of the first 45.
Ipswich’s best sight of goal came in the 35th minute, Rovers captain Max Ehmer hauled Town striker James Norwood to the ground on the edge of the box and from the resulting free kick, Freddie Sears saw his effort palmed away by Jaakkola.
After a goalless first half, both sides came out stronger in the second. Norwood saw an opportunity to shoot charged down by Kilgour before Ed Upson had a shot blocked for the home side.
A Westbrooke delivery just shy of the hour mark caught the Ipswich backline cold but once again it fell just inches short of a blue and white shirt.
Former Ipswich man Upson then had an effort saved by Tomas Holy only for the away side to go up the other end, Gwion Edwards forcing Jaakkola into another smart stop.
Kilgour then nearly diverted an Edwards cross into his own net, fortunately for him and Rovers, it landed the right side of Jaakkola’s goal.
Then, a fantastic through ball by Jon Nolan sent Edwards through, he rounded Jaakkola and looked to have scored the opening goal only for Mark Little to perform some goal line heroics for the second consecutive week. The right back cleared the ball off the line just as Edwards was about to slide it into an empty net, just as he did at Sunderland last weekend.
Ipswich were definitely the more threatening heading towards the latter stages and their increasing pressure on the Rovers backline proved too much with 10 minutes to go.
A floating ball into the Rovers area was turned into his own net by Max Ehmer. The German was under pressure from an Ipswich forward and Jaakkola and could only turn his attempted clearance into his own goal.
Rovers tried to threaten after the first goal but found Ipswich backline a hardy one to break down and with a minute to go, Jon Nolan was sent through and saw his left footed strike roll past Jaakkola’s left into the bottom corner.
Rovers will have to perform better going forward if they are to kickstart their season when they take a trip to Doncaster next weekend.
Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola, Little, Kilgour, Ehmer (c), Harries, Leahy (Tutonda, 84), Upson, Grant, Westbrooke, Mitchell-Lawson (Daly, 78), Hanlan (Ayunga, 74).
Unused Subs: Van Stappershoef, Hare, Baldwin, Hargreaves.
Yellow Cards: Upson, Grant
Ipswich: Holy, Chambers (c), Nsiala, Wilson, Ward, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop (Downes, 68), Edwards, Norwood (Hawkins, 68), Sears (Lankester, 63).
Unused Subs: Cornell, Donacien, Kenlock, Huws.
Yellow Cards: Norwood, Edwards.
Goals: Ehmer (OG), Nolan
GasCast MOTM: Mark Little – In a side that lacked an attacking threat and had to withstand waves of Ipswich pressure for most of the encounter, Little performed well. Had it not been for his goal line clearance, Rovers would have suffered another 3-0 defeat at the hands of Ipswich.