Rovers 2-0 Port Vale
Bristol Rovers put in another impressive performance to take all three points at the Memorial Stadium this evening.
The Pirates beat high flying Port Vale 2-0, thanks to two Ryan Brunt goals from set pieces in the first half.
It was Rovers’ third home win on the bounce, scoring a total of seven without conceding.
The game was very open, with both teams playing quick, counter attacking football, especially in the first half.
Rovers did well to limit Port Vale who possess one of the best away records in the league but have been going through a bad run of form in recent weeks.
John Ward made two changes to the side that lost to Chesterfield on Saturday – both enforced through injury.
Joe Anyinsah missed tonight’s game because of his hamstring problem, and he was replaced in the starting line up by Ellis Harrison.
At the back Mark McChrystal missed his first game since joining the club after picking up a foot injury against Chesterfield.
The experienced defender is not expected to be out long, and was tonight replaced by Jim Paterson, with Danny Woodards moving to the back to partner Tom Parkes.
Ryan Brunt, who started upfront alongside Eliot Richards had the first chance of the game, he got on to the end of a cross from Ellis Harrison, but he sent his header wide.
Then minutes later Jim Paterson made a break but his shot from 18 yards whizzed across the face of goal.
At the other end Adam Yates produced a cross for Vale, which allowed Sam Morsey a shot from 18 yards, but the ball flew wide.
But the game was just seven minutes old when Ryan Brunt made the breakthrough for Rovers.
The striker got his head on to the end of a corner from Norburn and nodded home from close range into the bottom corner of the net.
Port Vale responded immediately, and Tom Pope had a shot from 20 yards, before Chris Birchall wasted a chance for Vale firing over from eight yards.
Then Rovers were guilty of wasting a chance after Parkes headed wide following a good delivery from Michael Smith.
It was a fast paced start to the game, with both teams quick on the counter attack.
Oliver Norburn was given plenty of space to shoot from distance but his curling shot flew straight at the keeper.
Then Harrison, who was proving to be very dangerous on the counterattack, got on to the end of a ball from Michael Smith and his left footed shot went straight into the arms of the keeper from 20 yards.
Despite Rovers’ dominance in the opening exchanges, Vale were playing the better football in the second period of the first half, but Rovers were doing well to limit their chances.
And on 38 minutes they doubled their lead from another set piece.
Again Norburn floated in the corner and this time he fired a low shot through a crowded penalty area and in to the back of the net.
Yates’ shot for the visitors went wide of the upright, before Pope headed over from a free kick as the half came to a close.
It was an entertaining first half which saw good counterattacking football from both sides, but Rovers were able to take their chances and did well to deny Vale in front of goal.
The second half was a scrappier affair, and Vale put some early pressure on Rovers. However the home side stayed resolute, and limited the visitors to a small number of chances.
Rovers nearly made it 3-0 early on after Harrison got on to the end of a good delivery from Norburn, but his shot from the edge of the area with his left foot forced the keeper to tip the ball over the bar.
Lee Brown was encouraged to shoot from distance but his effort was easily caught by the keeper.
Then Port Vale missed a great chance to get themselves back in the game, with a free header for Tom Pope from just ten yards out, but the striker got his jump wrong and the ball went wastefully wide.
Lee Brown’s cross from a tight angle was easily gathered by the keeper as the offside flag went up, and then at the other end Smith did well to block from Griffiths, closing him down quickly and denying him space.
With 25 minutes to go John Ward made his first change with Tom Hitchcock coming on the replace Eliot Richards, who had fought hard without anything really falling for him.
Rovers then came close to making it 3-0 with Brunt missing an easy effort that would have netted him his hat trick.
Norburn fired a shot from 20 yards out and the keeper fumbled the ball into the path of Brunt, who blasted over from close range.
Norburn was forced to leave the field shortly after after picking up an injury, and he was replaced by Tom Lockyer making his home debut.
John Joe O’Toole’s shot from outside the area had plenty of power, but the ball went wide of the near post.
There was then a blow for the visitors as Ashley Vincent was forced to leave the field on a stretcher. Substitute Lee Hughes was through on goal, only for his shot to be blocked by Mildenhall. Vincent was then caught offside as he appeared to catch his ankle and fall awkwardly. Vale were forced to play the rest of the game with just ten men having already made their three substitutes.
Mildenhall, who was dominant in his area throughout the game, did well to claim the ball under his bar despite pressure from John McCombe.
Ward then introduced another promising youngster when Mitch Harding came on to replaces Harrison with five minutes left on the clock.
Vale again put some pressure on Rovers in the final 15 minutes, and Morsy had a powerful shot saved by Mildenhall.
The Rovers’ keeper than fumbled a shot, and the ball fell to Hughes whose curling shot was straight at the keeper .
In the dying seconds of added time Smith sent a cross into the box, but it was sent over the bar from Brunt.
It was definitely back to form from Rovers after a bad day on Saturday. The Pirates showed that they are more than a match for the top teams in the division.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Danny Woodards, Lee Brown, Jim Paterson, Ollie Norburn (Tom Lockyer), John-Joe O’Toole, Ellis Harrison (Mitch Harding), Ryan Brunt, Eliot Richards (Tom Hitchcock).
Substitutes: Conor Gough, Jordan Goddard, Ollie Clarke, Oumare Tounkara.
Port Vale: Chris Neal, Robert Taylor, John McCombe, Richard Duffy (Ashley Vincent), Adam Yates, Anthony Griffith, Liam Chilvers, Ben Williamson (Calvin Andrew), Sam Morsy, Tom Pope (Lee Hughes), Chris Birchall.
Substitutes: Ryan Boot, Louis Dodds, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Chris Shuker.