Rotherham United 1
Bristol Rovers 3
Brown (pen, 42), Harrison (52), Anyinsah (61)
Rovers returned home from Rotherham with another three points under their belt after a deserved 3-1 win.
Lee Brown’s penalty gave them a half time lead and superb second half goals from Ellis Harrison and Joe Anyinsah wrapped things up against a Rotherham side forced to play the whole second half with ten men following the dismissal of Claude Davis.
Manager John Ward made three changes to his starting lineup, with new signing Ryan Brunt making his debut in a 4-3-3 formation, while Joe Anyinsah and Ollie Norburn were the other two players to come in.
Clayton McDonald, Ward’s second signing of the week, was on the bench as was David Clarkson, in the squad for the first time since the Boxing Day match at Aldershot.
Rotherham enjoyed a period of early possession, but never really troubled Steve Mildenhall in the Rovers goal.
Both sides picked up bookings, though, Claude Davis for the home side and Eliot Richards for Rovers.
As Rovers began to get back into the game and Richards had the game’s first shot. His left foot shot was deflected behind for a corner and that signalled a spell of Rovers domination.
Brunt saw a shot deflected behind for another Rovers corner , while the home side’s first goal attempt saw a free kick from Michael O’Connor was deflected behind Mildenhall’s goal.
Daniel Nardiello then headed wide from another free kick, this one being taken by Ben Pringle, but Rotherham were finding this Rovers side difficult to break down and their defence, in particular, looked very shaky at times and disappointed their fans by giving away possession far too frequently.
With three minutes of the half remaining, Rovers took the lead as Lee Brown scored from the penalty spot. Davis was the culprit, bringing down Brunt in the area and the defender was fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card for his misdemeanour.
It didn’t matter, though, as Brown sent goalkeeper Andy Warrington the wrong way with his spot kick.
Davis, making his debut after his move from Crawley, completed a miserable afternoon as he did pick up another booking in first half stoppage time.
Richards broke down the left and as he shaped to go past the defender he was tripped and referee David Webb had no alternative but to dismiss the defender whose debut is one he will want to forget very quickly.
The home side obviously had a talking to from their manager at the break and started the second half in determined mode.
Alex Revell headed over at the beginning of the half but that was almost as good as it got for under fire manager Steve Evans as his side fell further behind on 52 minutes.
Ellis Harrison, who had only just come on, received the ball on the halfway line and set off for goal. After skipping past three somewhat half hearted challenges he found himself in the area and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Andy Warrington.
Just after the hour mark Rovers increased their lead through Joe Anyinsah. The recalled striker exchanged passes with Michael Smith and rifled a low shot past Warrington from 12 yards. It was such a good strike that even the Rotherham fans applauded.
Mildenhall made a superb save from a Lee Frecklington effort, diving low to his left to touch the ball behind, though he had no chance with the consolation goal scored by substitute David Noble.
With his first touch the former Bristol City player struck a 20 yard shot into the roof of the net with Mildenhall well beaten.
That was the end of the goalscoring, and the end of the chances and Rovers comfortably saw the game out to take all three points and climb off the bottom of the table.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Mark McChrystal, Tom Parkes, Lee Brown, John-Joe O’Toole, Seanan Clucas, Ollie Norburn, Joe Anyinsah (David Clarkson, 72), Ryan Brunt (Danny Woodards, 82), Eliot Richards (Ellis Harrison, 50)
Substitutes: Conor Gough, Fabian Broghammer, Tom Hitchcock, Clayton McDonald.
Yellow cards: Richards, O’Toole
Rotherham: Andy Warrington, Dale Tonge, Johnny Mullins, Claude Davis, Liam Ridehalgh, Ben Pringle, Kari Arnason, Lee Frecklington (David Noble, 72), Michael O’Connor, Alex Revell (Kayode Odejayi, 60), Daniel Nardiello (Courtney Cameron, 46)
Substitutes: Tony Thompson, Adam Morgan, Kieran Agard, Daniel Kearns
Yellow cards: Davis (2)
Red card: Davis
Rovers supporters: 418