Rovers 2-0 Portsmouth
Bristol Rovers gave Gasheads an early Christmas at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon, beating Portsmouth 2-0.
Ollie Clarke scored his first senior goal for Rovers in the first half, before David Clarkson wrapped things up with a strike on 76 minutes.
The result sees Rovers leap-frog above Portsmouth and go into 18th place in League Two heading into the festive fixtures.
John Ward made three changes to the side that started the game against Crawley in midweek.
Mark McChrystal returned from injury, to replace Tom Lockyer, who was suspended following his fifth booking of the season.
Eliot Richards and Matt Harrold both returned to the starting line up, to replace Chris Beardsley and Ellis Harrison, who dropped to the bench.
Portsmouth enjoyed the early pressure, forcing a string of corners in the first five minutes, but at the other end, Eliot Richards got a shot away that was easily dealt with by the Pompey keeper.
Rovers were given a let off a few minutes later, when a shot from Jed Wallace was deflected towards goal by Lee Brown. Thankfully for the home side, Steve Mildenhall reacted quickly, and got down low to save.
The Pirates then had a chance to take the lead, following a great run down the right from Michael Smith. His ball picked out David Clarkson, whose curling shot from 25 yards ricocheted off the bar.
Mildenhall then made a great reaction save with his feet to deny Ryan Bird.
A free kick from Richards just outside the area went high and wide, but Rovers kept pushing and took the lead just before the break.
Smith’s cross in from the left was sent out to Ollie Clarke 25 yards out, and he fired home through a crowded penalty area for his first Bristol Rovers goal.
Rovers could have made it 2-0 before the half time whistle. A corner from Brown found Tom Parkes, who rose up unmarked, but his header flew over the bar.
Rovers nearly doubled their lead with the first chance of the second half. Matt Harrold was fouled to win a free kick just outside the area, and Clarkson’s fantastic shot was palmed away by the diving Pompey keeper.
There was another chance for Rovers to double their lead on the hour mark. Richards forced a save from Carson from close range, before Clarkson fired just wide of the right hand post.
A loose header from John-Joe O’Toole was easily gathered by the keeper, before Ollie Norburn tried his luck from distance, but his deflected shot went straight into the arms of Carson.
With Rovers dominating the game, Pompey made a double substitution on 66 minutes, the change resulted in a chance with Bondz N’Gala heading the cross from substitute Ricky Holmes straight at Mildenhall.
Richards then put the ball in the net, but he was judged to have fouled Shaun Cooper on the way to goal, and the result was disallowed.
Rovers were awarded a free kick following a foul on Harrold, Brown’s effort flew across the box and managed to evade the advancing blue and white shirts.
Clarkson then finally got the goal he deserved to give Rovers the 2-0 lead. Norburn played a great pass through to the striker who smashed the ball home into the bottom corner.
Richards then made another good run down the left, but his shot curled over the bar.
At the other end, an effort from Jed Wallace was tipped over the bar by Mildenhall.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, David Clarkson, Ollie Clarke, Ollie Norburn, John-Joe O’Toole, Eliot Richards, Matt Harrold.
Substitutes: Chris Beardsley, Ellis Harriosn, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Alefe Santos, Pat Keary, Josh Southway
Portsmouth: Trevor Carson, Bondz N'Gala, Johnny Ertl, Sonny Bradley, Jed Wallace, Andrew Barcham (Ricky Holmes), Shaun Cooper (Yassin Moutaouakil), Simon Ferry, Ryan Bird (David Connolly), Marcus Painter, Patrick Agyemang
Substitutions: John Sullivan, Joe Devera, Romain Padovani, Thery Racon