Hartlepool United 4
Harewood (2), Walker (16), Walton (pen, 56), Franks (90)
Bristol Rovers 0
A below par performance from Rovers saw them slip to a second consecutive defeat as Hartlepool scored four goals without reply at Victoria Park.
The home side played well, but were gifted three of their goals by Rovers who, in the space of seven days, have slipped from 14th to 18th in the league standings and sit only four points from safety.
Manager John Ward made three changes for this game, and Seanan Clucas, Danny Woodards and Matt Harrold replaced Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke and Chris Beardsley respectively.
It was the first time Woodards had started a game since the injury he sustained at Bradford’s Valley Parade last season. Prior to this afternoon, he had made only four substitute appearances this season.
The home side took the lead following their first corner of the game after only two minutes.
A corner swung in from the right was glanced on by Luke James to Marlon Harewood at the far post and he had the simple task of heading past Mildenhall from close range.
While the marking of James was questionable, the marking of Harewood was non existent and the home side couldn’t have wished for a better gift from their benevolent visitors.
The lead was almost doubled on five minutes when Brad Walker’s ferocious drive saw Mildenhall make an unbelievable save diving low to his tright to touch the shot round the post.
The youngster wasn’t to be denied, though, as with 16 minutes on the clock he created space for himself before lashing a 20 yard shot past Mildenhall.
As the home side continued to press, a Jack Compton effort was blocked and it wasn’t until the 26th minute that Rovers threatened, but a Tom Parkes header from Lee Brown’s corner was wide of the target.
Mildenhall and Walker continued their battle, and the Rovers keeper came out on top again as he touched another effort from the midfielder over the bar.
The final 15 minutes of the half saw an improvement from Rovers and John-Joe O’Toole saw one effort take a deflection off Sam Collins, while another effort from the midfielder was saved by Scott Flinders.
The half ended with another Rovers effort, this time from David Clarkson whose curling long range effort just cleared the bar.
It was almost game over when Rovers conceded a 56th minute penalty.
Mark McChrystal fouled Harewood and Simon Walton sent Mildenhall the wrong way with his spot kick.
Substitute Chris Beardsley almost pulled a goal back for Rovers, but his close range effort was stopped by Scott Flinders with his legs.
The home side almost added to their lead when Jack Barmby’s dipping shot only just cleared the bar. Jonathan Franks then went close with a shot that drifted wide of the upright before Beardsley again went close
for Rovers when he saw his shot from just inside the area came back into play off the crossbar.
The home side scored a fourth goal in stoppage time when a poor back pass by Tom Parkes was intercepted by Luke James and he fired in a shot that rebounded back into play and into the path of Franks, who lashed the ball high into the roof of the net.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Kaid Mohamed (Alefe Santos, 57) Danny Woodards (Ollie Clarke, 75), Seanan Clucas (Chris Beardsley, 57), John-Joe O’Toole, David Clarkson, Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Steven Gillespie, Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Tom Lockyer
Yellow Card: Parkes (52)
Hartlepool: Scott Flinders, Jordan Richards, Sam Collins, Christian Burgess, Darren Holden, Simon Walton, Brad Walker (Lewis Hawkins, 79), Andy Monkhouse (Jack Compton, 15), Jack Barmby, Marlon Harewood (Jonathan Franks, 64), Luke James.
Substitutes: James Poole, Andy Rafferty, Antony Sweeney, Josh Rowbotham
Referee: S Stockbridge
Away Attendance: 239