Two late goals seal Birmingham victory
Birmingham City 3
Robinson (35), Burke (85 & 87)
Bristol Rovers 0
Rovers bowed out of the FA Cup tonight at Birmingham, though they acquitted themselves well against Championship opposition.
The opening goal was scored by Paul Robinson after 35 minutes, and two late goals from Chris Burke sealed their victory, though the margin of defeat was a little bit harsh on Rovers.
Roared on by over 2,800 fans, John Ward’s side must take the positives out of this game and take them into their league programme, beginning with Saturday’s fixture against York City at Bootham Crescent.
Rovers made one change to their starting lineup for tonight’s match, as Ollie Norburn replaced Tom Lockyer in midfield.
Lee Novak had an early shot blocked, but it was Rovers who fashioned the first real opening.
Matt Harrold won possession just outside the Birmingham area and the ball broke to Eliot Richards who advanced into the area only to see his shot smothered by goalkeeper Colin Doyle who was off his line very quickly to thwart the Rovers striker.
A left foot piledriver from Paul Robinson was wide of the mark , but they missed a gilt edged opportunity when Shane Ferguson was left unmarked at the back post when a cross came in from the right, but he headed well wide of goal.
Two minutes later Steve Mildenhall dived low to his right to keep out a low shot from Paul Caddis.
He could only touch the ball away, though, and saw his defenders block two follow up shots.
There were two shooting opportunities for Michael Smith on 20 minutes and the full back saw his first effort hit a home defender and rebound to him but his second attempt, though on target, was comfortably saved by Doyle.
Birmingham took the lead on 35 minutes, from the game’s first corner. The ball was played to the back post by Ferguson where Robinson was left with the chance to head home from close range.
There were protests from the Rovers players who appeared to think there had been a foul on one of their number before the ball hit the back of the net, but the goal was allowed to stand.
Reece Brown headed over the bar as the home side searched for a second goal, but Richards had another chance for Rovers as the half drew to a close, though his shot was comfortably saved by Doyle.
The final effort of the half fell to Birmingham’s Mitch Hancox, but he hit his shot straight at Mildenhall.
Nikola Zigic should have made more of an early second half opportunity, but headed straight at Mildenhall, while Lee Novak headed over the bar as Birmingham upped the tempo.
There was an opportunity for Tom Parkes, who burst forward and hit an ambitious 30 yard effort wide of the target, before the home side went close to increasing their lead.
Ferguson hit a left foot shot well wide of the mark and saw another effort deflected wide of goal.
Mildenhall then did well to touch a shot from Olly Lee round the post and Zigic hit another close range effort straight at the keeper.
Richards went close with a 25 yard free kick, but was thwarted by a fine save by Doyle, who managed to touch the ball over the crossbar.
Mildenhall was again called into action as Birmingham searched for a second goal and he kept out Robinson’s attempt following a swift counter attack.
As the game entered the final five minutes, though, the home side made sure of victory thanks to their best player, Burke.
His first goal came after a defence splitting pass and he beat Mildenhall in a one on one situation to double his side’s lead and two minutes later he beat the keeper with a left foot shot to make it 3-0.
Mildenhall saved from Novak before Rovers were denied a last gasp consolation goal when a packed home defence blocked John-Joe O’Toole’s close range shot.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Ollie Norburn (David Clarkson, 82), Ollie Clarke (Danny Woodards, 76), Ellis Harrison (Chris Beardsley, 63), John-Joe O’Toole,
Eliot Richards, Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Mitch Harding, Mitch Harding, Tom Lockyer, Pat Keary
Yellow Card: Harrison
Birmingham: Colin Doyle, Paul Caddis, Hayden Mullins, Paul Robinson, Mitchell Hancox, Chris Burke, Olly Lee (Charlee Adams, 89), Reece Brown (Wade Elliott, 72), Shane Ferguson (Demarai Gray 89), Lee Novak, Nikola Zigic
Substitutes: Will Packwood, Callum Reilly, Andy Shinnie, Nick Townsend
Referee: Michael Naylor
Rovers Supporters: 2,890