Fleetwood Town 3
Sarcevic (21), Roberts (40), Ball (51)
Bristol Rovers 1
Rovers conceded three preventable goals against Fleetwood this evening, and defeat leaves them looking over their shoulder at the foot of the table.
Two goals down at the break, they conceded again six minutes into the second half and at that point it was game over.
Although Ellis Harrison scored his first goal of the season it was no more than a consolation and Rovers face an important week now, as Morecambe visit the Memorial Stadium on Saturday ahead of away games against Bury and AFC Wimbledon.
Manager John Ward made three changes to his starting lineup for tonight’s match, which saw Matt Harrold, David Clarkson and Danny Woodards come into the side in place of Chris Beardsley, kaid Mohamed and John-Joe O’Toole.
Both sides made a tentative opening and neither goalkeeper was troubled in the opening ten minutes.
The first corner of the game arrived on 14 minutes, but the home side squandered a chance from scoring from a set piece and the ball in from the right drifted harmlessly behind.
Given that the first twenty minutes saw the sides cancel each other out, it was a surprise that the first shot of the game resulted in the first goal. Unfortunately it went to the home side.
Skipper Tom Parkes tried to cut out a through ball some 30 yards from goal, but failed to control it and it fell to Antoni Sarcevic whose shot beat Steve Mildenhall with the aid of an apparent deflection off of Mark McChrystal.
It could have been worse as, two minutes later, a cross from Josh Morris flew across the face of goal but thankfully Iain Hume couldn’t apply a finishing touch.
A second goal arrived with five minutes of the half remaining. Michael Smith blocked a shot from David Ball at the expense of a corner and when Morris swung the ball in from the left, the home skipper rose unchallenged to direct a header past Mildenhall.
Rovers’ only real effort came in the final minute of the half when Smith, not for the first time, got forward and delivered a low cross into the box where Ollie Clarke managed to get a shot away only to see it come back into play off the post.
Mildenhall saved from Morris early in the second half and at the other end a David Clarkson shot was blocked.
However Rovers were undone again on 51 minutes when a cross from the left found David Ball in space and his header beat Mildenhall. The shot stopper did manage to get a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it crossing the line.
Michael Smith then tried a shot from all of 35 yards, but it was straight at goalkeeper Chris Maxwell, who was able to save comfortably.
There was almost a fourth goal from the home side just after the hour mark when a ball in from the left was met by Pond, but his effort saw Mildenhall parry the ball and Mark McChrystal completed the clearance.
Matt Harrold might have pulled a goal back for Rovers shortly afterwards but after beating two defenders in the area and creating space for a shot, he dragged his final effort wide of the target.
Sarcevic saw a shot deflected through to Mildenhall and the keeper made a comfortable save from Iain Hume before substitute Ellis Harrison pulled a goal back.
When Lee Brown’s corner came in from the left, the youngster headed in his first goal of the season from close range.
There was one more chance for Ward’s side before the final whistle when his two other substitutes, Beardsley and Mohamed almost registered a second goal.
Beardsely’s cross into the box saw Mohamed unleash a fierce first time shot which was beaten away by Maxwell.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Danny Woodards (Chris Beardsley, 76), Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke, David Clarkson (Ellis Harrison, 56), Steven Gillespie (Kaid Mohamed, 70), Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Seanan Clucas, Pat Keary.
Yellow Cards: Brown, Beardsley
Fleetwood Town: Chris Maxwell, Conor McLaughlin, Mark Roberts, Nathan Pond, Charlie Taylor, Matty Blair (Gareth Evans, 90), Alan Goodall, Antoni Sarcevic, Josh Morris, Iain Hume (Jamille Matt, 75), David Ball (Stewart Murdoch, 75)
Substitutes: Scott Davies, Jon Parkin, Matty Hughes, Stephen Jordan
Referee: Kevin Wright
Rovers supporters: 120