Braintree Town 2
Davis (pen, 31), Sparkes (59)
Bristol Rovers 0
Rovers suffered another defeat on the road this afternoon, going down 0-2 against Braintree Town.
The first goal, a hotly disputed penalty, arrived just after the half hour mark, while a well worked second goal after the break meant that there was no way back for Darrell Clarke’s side.
The manager named an unchanged starting lineup for this afternoon’s match.
The changes he made were on the bench where Matty Taylor returned and Donovan Wilson was included in the squad for the first time.
Young striker Wilson is a second year pro who has already been offered a pro contract with the club.
After a tentative opening by both sides, Braintree were awarded a free kick just outside the area and Dan Sparkes saw his effort flash just wide of the upright.
Rovers then forced two corners in quick succession and from the second of them, Adam Cunnington’s powerful header from Dave Martin’s delivery saw Nick Hamann produce an outstanding save.
The home side squandered a good opportunity on 26 minutes when Simeon Akinola flicked the ball on to the back post but the ball just evaded striker Jordan Cox and drifted behind form a goal kick.
On the half hour mark the home side were awarded a controversial controversial penalty.
As the ball was played into the box it was safely gathered by Steve Mildenhall and he threw his clearance out to Dave Martin before the referee decided to hold a meeting with his two assistants, the result of which was a spot kick.
When Mildenhall gathered the ball, Cox had rushed in behind him, closely policed by Tom Parkes and in the melee that followed the three officials decided a foul had been committed.
Parkes was booked for protesting his innocence before Kenny Davis sent Mildenhall the wrong way from 12 yards.
Parkes then saw his close range effort at the other end ruled out for offside and there were further chances for Rovers before the half ended.
Andy Monkhouse headed straight at Hamann, Jamie White saw his glancing header deflected behind for a corner and Parkes headed another effort wide of the target.
Martin had an early chance to equalise at the start of the second half but saw his shot blocked. The only other chance of note for Rovers after that was a 75th minute effort from Monkhouse that cleared the bar.
In between those opportunities the home side were in control of proceedings and life was made easier for them after they scored a second goal with 59 minutes on the clock.
A good move down the left saw Simeon Akinola find Dan Sparkes on the edge of the area and he swept a shot past Mildenhall and into the bottom corner of the net.
Rovers were indebted to Mildenhall, who made a fine save to deny Akinola a third goal, while James Mulley twice fired just wide of the target.
Rovers who, for some strange reason, resorted to pumping long balls into the Braintree half for the final 30 minutes, never looked likely to score even a consolation goal.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Tom Lockyer, Tom Parkes (Stuart Sincllair, 63), Neal Trotman, Lee Brown, Andy Monkhouse, Lee Mansell, Ollie Clarke, Dave Martin, Jamie White (Matty Taylor, 60), Adam Cunnington (Ryan Brunt, 74)
Substitutes: Will Puddy, Donovan Wilson
Yellow Cards: Parkes, Mansell
Braintree Town: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, James Mulley, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes (Dan Walker, 74), Chez Isaac, Simeon Akinola (Michael Bakare, 90), Jordan Cox (Steve Smith, 86)
Substitutes: Sean Marks, Carl Pentney
Referee: Daniel Cook
Rovers fans: 565