By Steve Hood
Bristol Rovers bounced back from Saturday's defeat with a 1-0 win over 10 man Wrexham at the Memorial Stadium.
Andy Monkhouse’s first half bullet header proved to be the difference as Rovers returned to winning ways.
Darrell Clarke made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Braintree Town on Saturday, with Stuart Sinclair and Matty Taylor coming into the starting 11. New signing Angelo Balanta also took a spot among the substitutes for the first time since his arrival on Monday.
The game started slowly with neither side willing to commit many men forwards and chances were difficult to come by.
However, it was Rovers who had the opening chances. Matty Taylor directed a Dave Martin cross goalwards before Blaine Hudson slid in to put the ball out for a corner.
Rovers earned a free kick 35 yards away from the Wrexham goal following a foul on Lee Mansell. Lee Brown floated a ball into the area, which was just over the head of Tom Lockyer.
The visitors offered very little in the first half and their only real chance of note in the first 30 minutes was a speculative 30-yard shot from Robbie Evans.
The Gas took the lead on the 33rd minute as Andy Monkhouse powered home a header from a Dave Martin corner.
Moments later and Rovers could have doubled their lead through another corner.
This time the delivery came from Lee Brown again from the right hand side. Brown’s cross was headed on by Tom Parkes and went narrowly wide of the far post past an outstretched Matty Taylor who couldn’t tap it home.
Steve Mildenhall kept the game 1-0 just before the half pulling off an impossible save from Johnny Hunt.
Wrexham were attacking down the left as skipper Neil Ashton whipped a ball into the Rovers penalty box, which was met by the head of Connor Jennings.
Jennings headed the ball back across the 6-yard box to an arriving Hunt who looked certain to score before being denied by a firm hand from the Rovers shot stopper.
Rovers looked the sharper going into the second half and skipper Lee Mansell almost made it two but headed wide from Lee Brown’s left footed delivery.
It should have been 2-0 just before the hour mark as the home side looked dangerous again from a Dave Martin corner.
Martin’s in swinging delivery from the right was met by the head of Tom Parkes who thundered the ball over from 8 yards.
Wrexham were reduced to 10 men just after the hour mark as Mark Carrington was dismissed for a terrible challenge on Adam Cunnington in the middle of the park.
Rovers tried to make their extra man count and piled on the pressure as Andy Monkhouse and Matty Taylor both saw their goal bound shots desperately blocked by the Wrexham defence.
Even though they were reduced to 10 men, Wrexham played their best football after the dismissal of Mark Carrington. Wes York had a rare effort on goal for the visitors but his right-footed shot didn’t trouble Steve Mildenhall.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes Rovers superior fitness began to take it’s toll on the visitors and Dave Martin found himself in acres of space. The man on loan from Luton rifled a shot towards goal but it struck the left hand post so hard the ball bounced to safety.
Wrexham threw everything they had a Rovers in injury time but their poor night was summed up by a wayward effort from substitute Jay Harris
Up next for Rovers is an away trip to Lincoln on Saturday before they are back in action at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday (16th September) when they entertain Nuneaton Town.
Rovers: Mildenhall, Lockyer, Parkes, Trotman, Brown, Mansell (C), Sinclair, Martin (Gosling – 84), Monkhouse, Taylor, Cunnington.
Substitutes: Puddy (GK), Clarke, White, Balanta.
Wrexham: Bachmann, Carrington, Ashton (C), Smith, Hudson, Clarke, Moult (Durrell – 69), Evans (Harris – 69), York, Jennings, Hunt.
Substitutes: Bishop, Bailey-Jones, White.