Rovers 4-0 MacclesfieldAttendance:6,943 (140)
Bristol Rovers pulled of their biggest league win of the season beating third placed Macclesfield 4-0 at the Memorial Stadium.
Second half goals from Nathan Blissett, Matty Taylor and Ellis Harrison added to Andy Monkhouse's first half opener to secure all three points for the boys in blue and white.
Darrell Clarke made two changes with Will Puddy replacing Fabian Spiess in goal and skipper Mark McChrystal back in centre defence following a one-match absence through injury.
Visitors Macclesfield were forced to name just three substitutes, including a goalkeeper, on the bench due to injuries.
Rovers almost took the lead inside three minutes when Macclesfield keeper Rhys Taylor missed an attempted punch on the six-yard line, but Jake Gosling’s cut back was just behind Nathan Blissett – who was waiting for a tap in.
The Macclesfield bench were enraged after 17 minutes when Andy Monkhouse clashed with Andy Halls, leaving the visiting player on the floor, but referee Whitton took no action.
The away side created their first chance of note after 21 minutes when Chris Holroyd created spaced on the right side, but Matthew Barnes-Homer could only head over the bar under pressure from Mark McChrystal.
However, Rovers looked the more dangerous side going forward and Gosling’s low cross was flicked goalwards by Blissett, but the striker’s shot lacked the power to beat Rhys Taylor.
With the first half looking to be fizzling out, Gosling again caused trouble on the right as he cut inside and fired a shot that deflected on to the post and behind.
The Gibraltar international took the resulting corner and Monkhouse rose highest to glance his header past Taylor, much to the home fans delight.
Barnes-Homer almost spoiled the celebrations moments before half time when he met a Daniel Cowan cross, but the forward’s header was comfortably saved by Puddy, ensuring Rovers took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Rovers started the second half positively and Blissett had a goal ruled out after the referee judged Macclesfield’s Alex Grant had been tripped in the build up.
Matty Taylor then found himself in space with the ball inside the visitors box but namesake Rhys Taylor made a superb reflex save to deny Rovers doubling their lead.
Moments later, Taylor again unleashed a shot after neat build-up play with Gosling, but the ball this time flew just wide of the far post.
The home side’s pressure finally told on 65 minutes when goalscorer Monkhouse this time turned provider as he danced through the Macclesfield defence and laid the ball on a plate for Blissett who fired the ball in from six yards to give Rovers a deserved 2-0 lead.
Substitute Ollie Clarke almost put the game beyond doubt with 15 minutes left when his mid-range shot just swerved past the near post with Rhys Taylor rooted to the spot.
But Rovers supporters only had to wait a couple of minutes before Matty Taylor capped an excellent performance with a goal.
Mansell’s right-footed free kick on the left was wickedly whipped in towards the penalty spot and Taylor’s header was perfectly placed into the bottom right hand corner.
Soon after the striker was taken off to universal applause from the home fans, and his replacement Bradley Goldberg had only been on the pitch a few minutes when he won the hosts a penalty.
Scott Barrow tripped the Rovers substitute inside the box and fellow substitute Ellis Harrison stepped up to blast the ball past Taylor to seal an emphatic victory for the Gas.
Rovers remain second in the Conference table with their third successive win and close the gap to leaders Barnet to seven points who were held to a draw at home to Dover Athletic.
Up next for the boys in blue and white is the return fixture against Torquay United on New Years Day before traveling to face Nuneaton on the 4th of January to complete the hectic festive period.
Rovers: Puddy, Leadbitter, McChrystal (C), Parkes, Lockyer, Gosling (Clarke - 64), Mansell, Sinclair, Monkhouse, Taylor (Goldberg - 79), Blissett (Harrison - 79).
Unused Substitutes: Spiess (GK), Trotman.
Macclesfield: Taylor, Halls, Grant, Pilkington, Barrow, Holroyd, Cowan, Whitaker, Moke, Barnes-Homer, Johnstone (Fairhurst - 70).
Unused Substitutes: Branagan (GK), Gnahoula.