Bristol Rovers 2-0 SouthportAttendance: 8,251 (117)
Rovers continued their title charge with a convincing 2-0 win over Southport at the Memorial Stadium
One goal in each half proved to be enough the the Gas as Ellis Harrison opened the scoring before Matty Taylor ensured the points with a tidy header just after half time.
Darrell Clarke made the one change to the side that was victorious on Easter Monday recalling club top goal scorer Matty Taylor into the starting line-up as Nathan Blissett takes a place among the substitutes.
After a slow opening five minutes the game burst into life as Ellis Harrison scored his 7th goal in his last 8 games to put the Gas 1-0 to the good. The young Welshman latched onto a ball into the box from Andy Monkhouse before smashing the ball past a helpless Tony Thompson.
Over 10 minutes of the game had passed before Southport had their first effort on goal as Steve Hewitt showed good determination to wriggle through the Rovers defence before dribbling his shot into the hands of Will Puddy.
Moments later Rovers could have doubled their lead as a superb dummy on the edge of the area from Ellis Harrison presented Chris Lines with a golden opportunity to open his Bristol Rovers account but fired over from the edge of the area.
Rovers continued to press and a neat little flick from Chris Lines on the edge of the penalty area set up Matty Taylor whose shot thundered off the crossbar before being flagged offside.
Darrell Clarke's message to his side seemed clear as they continued to attack and were almost 2-0 up five minutes before the break as more powerful running from Ellis Harrison created a chance before the ball bounced around the Southport area with Matty Taylor and Lee Mansell seeing their opportunities blocked.
The home side continued to press and in the opening exchanges of the second half had a flurry of chances blocked by a stubborn Southport back line. Matty Taylor broke free of the defence and tried to pick out Ellis Harrison. Harrison controlled the ball but his shot was blocked by Luke George but he ball fell to the feet of Adam Dawson who could only fire over.
Moments later Rovers were 2-0 to the good as Matty Taylor headed home from close range. More strong work down the Rovers left allowed Andy Monkhouse to deliver a pinpoint ball into the Sandgrounders six-yard box which Taylor headed home comfortably.
Darrell Clarke's men continued to press and could have gone 3-0 up and it not been for a fantastic save from Tony Thompson. A well worked free kick routine delivered by Chris Lines found Ellis Harrison who caught his volley sweet but Thompson was equal to it to deny the young Welshman his second of the afternoon.
Several minutes passed and Rovers created another opportunity as Adam Dawson found space on the right hand side and lashed a cross through the six-yard area but neither Matty Taylor or Ellis Harrison could apply the vital touch to guide the ball into the back of the net.
The game went a bit stale in the second period and Darrell Clarke opted to freshen up his front line by replacing Ellis Harrison with Nathan Blissett and the big man almost had an opportunity straight away as he found some space on the Rovers left, cut inside but tried to pick out Matty Taylor rather than take the shot on himself.
Neither side created anything in the closing stages as Rovers continue their title march. Up next for Rovers is a trip to Dover in their penultimate game of the season before entertaining Alfreton Town at the Memorial Stadium in the season finale.
Rovers: Puddy, Leadbitter, McChrystal (C), Parkes, Brown, Dawson (Balanta - 87), Mansell, Lines, Monkhouse, Taylor, Harrison (Blissett - 82).
Unused Substitutes: Mildenhall (GK), Leadbitter, Easter.
Southport: Thompson, Fitzpatrick, Kay (Collins - 76), Evans, George (C), Davies, Joyce, Rutherford, Almond, Hewitt, McCarthy (Symes - 76).
Unused Substitutes: Usai (GK), Connor, Donnelly.