Bodin (13), Brown (45), Taylor (69)
EXETER CITY 1 Brown (48)
Referee: Nigel Miller
Away Attendance: 893
Bristol Rovers picked up another three point haul at The Memorial Stadium this afternoon when goals from Billy Bodin, Lee Brown and Matty Taylor saw them beat West Country rivals Exeter City who scored a consolation goal through Jake Taylor.
Bodin and Brown gave Darrell Clarke’s side a half time lead, but Exeter’s Taylor scored three minutes after the break and for a while there were some nervous moments as the goal gave them the impetus to go looking for an equaliser.
However Matty Taylor’s 28th goal of the season calmed everything down and Clarke’s side were seldom troubled after his 69th minute strike.
Rovers began brightly and Cristian Montano saw his early strike deflected behind by one of his own players while Bodin’s angled drive ten minutes later produced a save by Exeter keeper Bobby Olejnik.
The striker didn’t have to wait too long to get on the scoresheet, though, as on 13 minutes, he scored his tenth goal of the season.
The goal owed much to Montano who won possession midway inside the Exeter half and set off for goal. Denied space to get away a shot of his own he slipped the ball inside to Bodin who slotted the ball past Olejnik.
Exeter’s response came from Jake Taylor, who saw Steve Mildenhall dive full length to touch away his effort and seconds later Jordan Moore-Taylor headed over the bar from close range. Mildenhall saved again from Lee Holmes, while Matty Taylor saw a shot blocked at the other end.
Rovers might have added a second goal two minutes from half time but skied his shot over the bar after Matty Taylor and Bodin both had shots blocked.
A second goal did arrive, in first half stoppage time, though, and it arrived due to a moment of indiscipline by central defender Troy Brown. Having tangled with Matty Taylor on the edge of the area he needlessly shoved the Rovers striker to the ground after the ball had been cleared.
Brown was booked for his indiscretion and Lee Brown punished him and his team mates even more when he rifled the resulting free kick into the corner of the net.
Three minutes after the break, though, Exeter pulled a goal back when Jake Taylor’s curling shot beat Mildenhall and even though the shot stopper got his fingertips to the effort he couldn’t prevent it entering the net.
The goal signalled some anxious moments, from those watching as well as the players out on the pitch as the visitors went in search of an equaliser.
Jayden Stockley dragged a shot wide and Jake Taylor saw a shot blocked while Lee Holmes also fired wide of the target. AQ Ryan Harley effort was deflected through to Mildenhall who was able to save comfortably and then Ollie Watkins went close with an angled drive that fizzed past the upright.
The goal that gave Rovers breathing space arrived in the 60th minute thanks to a swift counter attack that saw Chris Lines work the ball out to Matty Taylor.
He worked his way in from the left before beating Olejnik with a stunning shot to restore the two goal lead. The goal settled all the nerves and Ollie Clark, on as a substitute for Montano, dragged a shot wide of the target before Bodin’s curling drive was saved by Olejnik.
David Noble did have a shot blocked before the end and substitute Joel Grant saw two more shots blocked by a packed Rovers defence before the final whistle.
The three points sees Rovers challenge for an automatic promotion spot continue, but defeat means that Exeter’s play off hopes are dashed for another season.
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Lockyer, McChrystal, Brown, Bodin, Mansell (Lawrence, 90), Lines, Montano (Clarke (O), 62), Gaffney, Taylor (Easter, 84)
Substitutes: Parkes, Harrison, Puddy, Easter
Yellow Cards: Lockyer, Brown
Exeter City: Olejnik, Ribeiro, Brown (Nicholls, 61), Moore-Taylor, Woodman (McAllister, 54), Holmes (Grant, 86), Noble, Harley, Taylor, Watkins, Stockley
Substitutes: Davies, Reid, Pym, Tillson,
Yellow Cards: Brown, Stockley