Burton Albion 1
Bristol Rovers 0
Rovers were beaten by a stunning second half goal scored by Robbie Weir at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon.
However the main talking point afterwards wasn’t the goal but the three red cards issued by referee Mr Tierney.
Chris Beardsley was sent off on 37 minutes, while Jimmy Phillips and John-Joe O’Toole received their marching orders in time added on.
Rovers battled hard and may well have salvaged a point from a scrappy game, though they were indebted to goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, who made some outstanding saves, that the margin of defeat wasn’t greater.
Manager John Ward made one change to his starting lineup, recalling Will Packwood in place of Ollie Norburn, allowing Tom Lockyer to occupy a midfield berth.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Steve Mildenhall made a fine reaction save to keep out a rasping shot from Dominic Knowles after only two minutes.
The keeper was called into action again five minutes later when he made a routine save from Chris Hussey.
Rovers, who had been pegged back in their own half for much of the opening ten minutes, then fashioned a chance of their own.
Home goalkeeper Dean Lyness punched clear and rushed off his line to try to stop Ollie Clarke’s effort as he picked up the loose ball.
The keeper failed, but Ian Sharps was on hand to clear the midfielder’s effort off the line.
Adam McGurk then went close on two occasions for the home side, curling one effort wide of the upright and sending a header well wide of the target.
Mildenhall made another save from Hussey before Eliot Richards tested Lyness with a well struck effort.
A glancing header from Chris Beardsley was wide of the mark and that was almost the end of the on loan striker’s involvement, as he was red carded with 37 minutes on the clock.
It was difficult to judge how bad his challenge was on Robbie Weir from the press box, but it was apparently given for serious foul play.
As Rovers regrouped, they allowed Burton just one more chance before the break, but Dominic Knowles saw his shot blocked by a packed defence.
Mildenhall, who was having an outstanding game, made an outstanding save three minutes into the second half, diving low to his right to touch away a shot from Matty Palmer.
Chris Hussey shot wide as Burton tried to make their numerical advantage count, but they were finding it difficult to find a way through a determined Rovers defence.
A special effort was needed to beat Mildenhall and it duly arrived with 58 minutes gone. Weir picked up the ball some 25 yards from goal and crashed an unstoppable shot past the shot stopper.
Mildenhall then made a comfortable save from McGurk and kept out a powerful close range drive from substitute Billy Kee but as the game entered the five minutes of added time it exploded into action for all the wrong reasons.
Jimmy Phillips, who had been yellow carded before the break, picked up another for a challenge on Michael Smith, which meant that he received his marching orders.
Then, as Rovers were preparing to launch a free kick in the box, O’Toole received a red card.
It was for an alleged push in the face, though only the assistant referee on the far side of the pitch appeared to see the incident.
The red cards mean that Beardsley and O’Toole now face a three match ban, thus stretching Ward’s already depleted squad even more ahead of Tuesday night’s game at Cheltenham.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Will Packwood, Lee Brown, David Clarkson (Matt Harrold, 61), Ollie Clarke, John-Joe O’Toole, Tom Lockyer, Eliot Richards
Substitutes: Ollie Norburn, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Shaquille Hunter, Pat Keary, Josh Southway
Red Cards: Beasrdsley (37), O’Toole (90)
Burton Albion: Dean Lyness, Phil Edwards, Ian Sharps, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Damien McCrory, Jimmy Phillips, Matty Palmer, Robbie Weir, Chris Hussey (Lee Bell, 81), Dominic Knowles (Billy Kee, 76), Adam
McGurk (Rene Howe, 86)
Substitutes: Zander Diamond, Alex MacDonald, Kevin Poole, Jack Dyer
Yellow Cards: Phillips (31 & 90), Cansdell-Sherriff (53)
Red Card: Phillips (90)
Referee: Mr P Tierney