Bristol Rovers 3-0 Crawley TownAttendance: 8,250 (99)
Rovers returned to winning ways with a convincing 3-0 win against Crawley Town at the Mem.
A Matty Taylor brace either side of a superb Liam Lawrence free kick was enough to secure all three points and send Rovers back into the automatic promotion spots.
Darrell Clarke made three changes to the side that lost to Carlisle on Easter Monday as Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Lockyer and Liam Lawrence came into the side to replace James Clarke, Tom Parkes and Cristian Montano who dropped to the substitutes bench.
Rovers started brightly and created chances inside the opening 10 minutes but failed to test Callum Preston in the Crawley goal. Initially Billy Bodin fired his header over the bar before the Welshman found a pocket of space in the middle of the pitch before dragging his left footed shot wide.
The first half was very stop-start with the visitors seemingly happy to waste time at every opportunity whilst never threatening Steve Mildenhall's goal. Rovers continued to have large spells of possession but failed to break down a resolute Town back line.
However, it was more of a direct approach that almost crafted Rovers first real chance of the afternoon as a pin-point diagonal ball from Tom Lockyer was taken well by Rory Gaffney but the Irishman was denied by a superb challenge from Lewis Young as he was about to pull the trigger.
Crawley came out in the second half and looked much more interested in the win inside the opening five minutes of the half as skipper Sonny Bradley headed into the arms of Steve Mildenhall before Matt Harrold headed wide from a Lyle Della-Verde free kick.
Less than five minutes had passed before Rovers top goal scorer Matty Taylor put the boys in blue and white ahead with his 24th goal of the season.
Rory Gaffney's shot from the edge of the box was turned behind for a corner where Liam Lawrence whipped a lovely cross to the near post where Taylor was on hand to head past Preston to put Rovers a goal to the good.
Rovers continued to press for a second when Lyle Della-Verde fouled Billy Bodin giving Rovers a free kick. The ball was aimed to the far post, but no one was able to control it before Rory Gaffney attempted a audacious backheel which went narrowly wide.
Seconds later at the other end Crawley could have pulled themselves level as Sonny Bradley thumped his volley over the crossbar from another Della-Verde set piece.
Crawley going a goal behind really helped the game along and forced the Red Devils out of their shell as a lovely pass from Matt Harrold split the Rovers defence allowing substitute Shamir Fenelon to latch onto the ball. Fenelon took the ball past Steve Mildenhall but Daniel Leadbitter was on hand to proving the covering tackle.
Darrell Clarke's side didn't seem content with just the one goal lead and continued to attack a fragile Crawley back line when a nice bit of skill from Ollie Clarke wrong footed his defender drawing the foul and the free kick.
From the resulting free kick Liam Lawrence composed himself before dispatching an inch perfect free kick into the top left hand corner of the goal giving Callum Preston no chance.
Rovers smelt blood after the second and pushed for a third as substitute Cristian Montano's shot stung the palms of Callum Preston who was forced to concede a corner. From the resulting corner, Matty Taylor found some space in the penalty area to head home his 25th goal of the season.
Up next for Rovers is the trip to Sixfields to take on league leaders Northampton Town.
Rovers: Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer, McChrystal (C), Brown; Bodin, O. Clarke, Lines, Lawrence (Montano - 77); Taylor (Easter - 84), Gaffney (McBurnie - 82).
Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), J. Clarke, Parkes, Harrison.
Crawley: Preston; Young, Yorwerth, Bradley, Dunne; Edwards Sutherland (Walton - 76), Bond, Della-Verde; Harrold (Barnard - 83), Deacon (Fenelon - 65).
Unused Substitutes: Rose (GK), Bawling, Ashton, McNerney.