Newport County 1
Sandell (pen, 42)
Bristol Rovers 0
Andy Sandell’s 42nd minute penalty separated the sides at Rodney Parade in a game dominated by Newport.
Rovers were pegged back in their own half for much of the opening 45 minutes and although there was an improvement after the break, home goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley was a spectator for most of the match.
The one positive was the return of Ryan Brunt and his cameo 18 minute appearance suggests that he won’t be too far off a place in the starting lineup for next week’s game against York City.
Manager John Ward was without the services of Mitch Harding, who picked up a knock in training yesterday, but he was able to welcome three of his experienced players back into the squad for this afternoon’s game against Newport County.
Brunt, Matt Gill and Garry Kenneth were all on the bench, while the manager named the same starting XI that gained the club’s first point of the season in last Saturday’s goalless draw against Scunthorpe United.
The home side set the pace in the opening five minutes and created a chance in the first minute that saw Christian Jolley fire over the bar.
Next to try his luck for Newport was Adam Chapman whose volley also cleared the bar.
Steve Mildenhall’s failure to gather a cross from the right, under pressure from Chris Zebroski, caused a few problems at the back for Rovers before the ball was scrambled away and then Chapman went close when he touched another cross from the right just wide of the upright.
Newport kept up the pressure and Christian Jolley hit a shot straight at Mark McChrystal, gathered the rebound and fired another effort straight at Mildenhall.
It was the 23rd minute before Rovers fashioned their first opportunity but Ellis Harrison’s snap shot from 25 yards was wide of the target.
Former Rovers defender David Pipe was booked fort a rash challenge on Tom Lockyer before another former Rovers player, Zebroski, saw his close range effort blocked by Lockyer.
Mildenhall made an excellent double save from Lee Minshull and Zebroski before Eliot Richards saw a shot blocked at the other end.
However the goal that Newport had threatened all afternoon arrived with three minutes of the half remaining, the only surprise being that it came from the penalty spot.
Tom Parkes was adjudged to have fouled Jolley and up stepped the third former Rovers player in the Newport side, Andy Sandell, to send Mildenhall the wrong way with his spot kick.
Eliot Richards headed over early in the second half, while Mildenhall saved well from Zebroski at the other end.
The home side appealed for another penalty when the ball appeared to strike Michael Smith on the arm but nothing was given.
Home goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley comfortably gathered an O’Toole header under the bar, though Newport went close to adding a second goal with 15 minutes remaining.
Conor Washington won the ball from Lee Brown and raced towards goal, only to be denied by Mildenhall who dived at the striker’s feet to clear the danger.
Ryan Brunt saw a shot blocked and Michael Smith’s powerful left foot shot was deflected over the bar, but Rovers lacked a cutting edge throughout.
Mildenhall went up for a last minute corner, but only got the slightest of touches and the ball drifted harmlessly wide of the upright.
Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Ellis Harrison, Tom Lockyer, Ollie Norburn, John-Joe O’Toole (Ryan Brunt, 72), David Clarkson (Alefe Santos, 66), Eliot Richards
Substitutes: Garry Kenneth, Matt Gill, Conor Gough, Shaquille Hunter, Josh Southway
Yellow Card: O’Toole
Newport County: Lenny Pidgeley, David Pipe, Harry Worley, Tom Naylor, Andrew Hughes, Andy Sandell, Robbie Willmott (Michael Flynn, 88), Lee Minshell, Adam Chapman, Christian Jolley (Conor Washington, 70), Chris Zebroski (Danny Crow, 84)
Substitutes: Max Porter,Ryan Jackson, Jamie Stephens
Yellow Card: Pipe, Willmott
Referee: Lee Collins
Rovers supporters: 1,064