Two second half goals give Chesterfield victory
O’Shea (53), Gnanduillet (73)
Bristol Rovers 0
A promising start to the game at the Proact wasn’t maintained and Rovers conceded two second half goals in a strangely lethargic performance in the second period.
Manager John Ward made one change to his starting lineup, with Joe Anyinsah returning to the side in place of Ellis Harrison, who dropped to the bench.
Rovers began brightly and were unlucky not to go ahead in the ninth minute.
Eliot Richards let fly with stunning 30 yard shot which seemed destined to hit the back of the net, but goalkeeper Tommy Lee somehow managed to touch it on to the post and the ball ran across the face of goal and behind for a corner.
It took a while for the home side to get into their stride, though they began to enjoy more possession and fashioned their first chance with 20 minutes on the clock, but Sam Hird’s header from a right wing corner saw Steve Mildenhall make a comfortable save.
At the other end a half volley by John-Joe O’Toole cleared the crossbar while Sam Togwell fired a shot straight at Mildenhall.
A long range speculative volley from Conor Townsend was wide of the target and Hird again broke free of his markers to direct another header into the arms of a grateful Mildenhall.
The keeper then made a routine save from Armand Gnanduillet, but the home side’s best chance came with a minute of the half to go. Tom Parkes brought down Gnanduillet just outside the box, but Jay O’Shea rifled the free kick straight into the Rovers’ defensive wall.
There was a final chance for Rovers before the half ended, but Richards scooped a shot over the bar after being played in by Parkes.
The home side were out of the blocks quickly after the break and Mildenhall made an early save from Nathan Smith.
However he was beaten on 53 minutes when a weak Ryan Brunt clearance reached Jay O’Shea who struck a stunning shot into the top corner of the net giving Mildenhall no chance of saving.
Gnanduillet and Neal Trotman had chances to increase the lead, and Jack Lester should have done just that but managed to direct a header wide of the upright from just three yards.
Richards saw a long range effort comfortably saved by Lee, while Sam Togwell went close for the home side. But it was game over of 73 minutes when Gnanduillet cut into the area, beat Parkes, and rolled a shot beyond Mildenhall into the bottom corner.
Richards saw a shot well saved by Lee, who touched his ferocious drive round the post, and a powerful header from Parkes was blocked by a home defender.
Mildenhall, though, came to Rovers’ rescue again in the final minute when he touched an O’Shea effort over the bar.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Ollie Norburn, Danny Woodards (Tom Hitchcock, 54), John-Joe O’Toole, Joe Anyinsah (Fabian Broghammer, 46), Ryan Brunt (Oumare Tounkara, 72), Eliot Richards.
Substitutes: Jim Paterson, Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Clayton McDonald.
Chesterfield: Tommy Lee, Richard Brindley, Nathan Smith, Neal Trotman, Liam Cooper, Sam Togwell, Sam Hird, Jay O’Shea, Conor Townsend (Danny Whitaker, 85), Jack Lester (Tendayi Darwika, 72), Armand
Gnanduillet (Marc Richards, 80)
Substitutes: Alex Henshall, Mark Randall, Josh Barrington, Jordan Clark
Referee: Mick Russell
Rovers supporters: 640