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ROVERS TOPPLE AFC WIMBLEDON TO CEMENT PLAY-OFF PLACE

8 March 2016

Bristol Rovers 3-1 AFC Wimbledon

Attendance: 7,778 (303)

Rovers cemented their play-off place with a 3-1 win against AFC Wimbledon at the Memorial Stadium.

Jermaine Easter's first goal since December gave Rovers a first half lead before Ollie Clarke added a second just before half time. Jon Meades pulled a goal back for the visitors in the second half before Matty Taylor's 19th of the season wrapped up all three points with 10 minutes to go.

Darrell Clarke was forced into changing his starting 11 due to an illness hitting Billy Bodin, forcing three changes and Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Parkes and Ollie Clarke came into the starting 11 as Rovers adopted a 3-5-2 shape.

Rovers started well and it only took two minutes for Darrell Clarke's side to register their first shot on target. Matty Taylor flicked a ball through to Jermaine Easter who fired his effort into the chest of Kelle Roos.

The visitors had large spells of possession in the opening 20 minutes but never really threatened Steve Mildenhall's goal but for all their attacking intent it was Rovers who took the lead on the half hour mark.

Darrell Clarke's side were playing some fantastic stuff along the ground but got the breakthrough from a cross as Lee Brown floated a lovely cross in for Jermaine Easter who headed the ball past Kelle Roos for his first goal since December.

With 35 minutes on the clock Wimbledon were forced into a double substitution due to injury as Tom Elliott and Connor Smith were both forced off and Rovers caught the changes cold as they doubled their lead shortly after.

Following a mix-up with the Dons back line, Ollie Clarke was presented with a shooting opportunity and made no mistaking firing his low shot past Roos for his first goal of the season.

Rovers weren't seemingly content with a 2-0 lead given their start to the second half.

Fullback Daniel Leadbitter showed Andy Barcham a clean pair of heels before finding Jermaine Easter in the penalty area. Easter took the ball down well before finding Leadbitter's run but the Rovers man could only fire his shot into the feet of Kelle Roos.

Play-off chasing Wimbledon wouldn't be put off by this Rovers pressure in the opening exchanges and pulled a goal back just seven minutes into the second half. Jake Reeves corner from the right hand side was met by an unmarked Jon Meades who headed the ball down past an outstretched Mildenhall.

Both sides exchanged blows up to the hour mark with both Taylor's going close for each side. Initially Lyle Taylor volleyed a corner over for the visitors before Matty Taylor dragged a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area moments later.

Wimbledon grew in confidence after pulling a goal back but Steve Mildenhall was on hand to keep Rovers in front. Jake Reeves floated in a pin-point cross onto the head of Paul Robinson but Mildenhall spread himself well to deny the defender with his feet.

However for all their pressure, the Rovers back line stood firm and Matty Taylor looked to have wrapped up all three points with just over 10 minutes remaining with his 19th of the season.

Following another defensive mix-up from the Dons, Chris Lines played a perfect ball into Matty Taylor who had sprung the offside trap before calmly slotting the ball under Kelle Roos.

Just as the fourth official signaled the injury time in the second half, Wimbledon substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa was shown a straight red card by referee Ben Toner compounding the misery for the visitors.  

Up next for Rovers is the visit of Mansfield Town to the Memorial Stadium before Darrell Clarke's men travel to Rodney Parade to take on Newport County.

Rovers: Mildenhall; Leadbitter, J. Clarke, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Mansell (McChrystal - 83), O. Clarke, Lines, Taylor, Easter (McBurnie - 59).

Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), Montano, Broom, Harrison, Fallon.

Wimbledon: Roos; Fuller (C), Robinson, Sweeney, Meades; Bulman, Reeves, Smith (Barcham - 35), Rigg; Elliott (Azeez - 35), Taylor (Akinfenwa - 79). 

Unused Substitutes: Shea (GK), Kennedy, Akinfenwa, Fitzpatrick, Gallagher.

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