Torquay United 1-2 Bristol RoversAttendance: 3,755 (1,145)
Rovers started the festive period with three vital points and a fantastic performance as they beat local rivals Torquay United at Plainmoor.
Goals from Matty Taylor and Neal Trotman secured all three points for Rovers with goalkeeper Fabian Spiess gifting the home side their goal.
Darrell Clarke was forced to change his starting line-up through illness and injury as he made four changes to the side that started a week ago against Gateshead.
Daniel Leadbitter was brought in the play right back with Tom Lockyer switching to left back to replace the injured Lee Brown. Rovers other changes saw Neal Trotman, Jake Gosling and Nathan Blissett replace Mark McChrystal, Angelo Balanta and Alex Wall.
Rovers started the brighter of the two sides and it was Lee Mansell who came closest in the early going. The former Torquay man tried his luck from distance but his shot dipped narrowly wide on Jordan Seabright’s left hand post.
Seconds later Rovers were in front through top goal scorer Matty Taylor.
Taylor picked the ball up deep and advanced towards the goal twisting right and left before opening his body up well and lashing his left footed shot past Seabright.
It was Taylor who could have doubled Rovers lead as he latched onto an inch perfect pass from Stuart Sinclair but this time his snapshot was straight into the Torquay keeper’s arms.
For all their possession in the first period Torquay rarely threatened the Rovers goal until skipper Luke Young tried his luck from 35-yards out but his strike cleared the crossbar and ended up with the Gasheads behind Spiess’ goal.
Last week’s goal hero Stuart Sinclair sparked a fantastic Rovers counter attack on the half hour mark as the midfielder ran the entire length of the pitch before Krystian Pearce was forced to concede a corner.
From that corner Neal Trotman doubled Rovers lead as Gosling’s ball into the penalty area was straight at the Rovers defender who powered his areal effort past Seabright at his near post.
Moments later Torquay pulled a goal back through a moment of madness from Rovers keeper Fabian Spiess.
Torquay forward Duane Ofori-Acheampong struck the ball goalwards before it looped up into the air and under pressure Spiess appeared to punch the ball into his own goal in the slippery wet conditions.
Just before half time Nathan Blissett should have extended Rovers lead as another Gosling corner fell to the big man in the area but his left footed shot missed the target from 4-yards.
Rovers started the second half brightly again and Jake Gosling forced a fantastic save from Seabright.
Matty Taylor picked out an advancing Gosling who struck the ball with his right foot, which required Seabright to tip the ball behind for a Rovers corner, which was eventually cleared.
The first real chance of the second half fell to Matty Taylor. Taylor created his own space down the Rovers right, cut inside well only to see his left footed drive sail narrowly wide of the post.
Moments later Taylor created the same chance again but this time he sliced his shot well wide of Seabright in the Torquay goal.
With 20 minutes remaining on the clock Matty Taylor was bundled over in the Torquay area but referee Adam Bromley waved away the protests of a penalty and had a quiet word with Darrell Clarke in the process.
Neal Torman almost extended Rovers lead with 10 minutes left as Matty Taylor whipped the ball back into the penalty area from an over-hit corner however Trotman’s header came crashing back off the crossbar.
Torquay threw everything that they had in the closing stages but the Rovers defence held firm to secure a vital three points at the start of a very hectic festive period which takes Darrell Clarke's men into second spot in the Vanarama Conference.
Up next for Rovers is a return to the Memorial Stadium as they host Macclesfield on Sunday before entertaining Torquay on New Years Day.
Torquay: Seabright, Berry, Pearce, MacDonald, Ives, Cameron, Young (C), Richards (Yeoman – 81), Ajala (Briscoe – 66), Bowman, Ofori-Acheampong (Benyon – 81).
Unused Substitutes: Rice (GK), Cruise.
Rovers: Spiess, Leadbitter, Trotman, Parkes, Lockyer, Mansell (C), Monkhouse, Gosling, Sinclair, Taylor (Goldberg – 90), Blissett (Wall – 66).
Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), Martin, Harrison.