Bristol Rovers 4 -2 Crawley Town (AET)
Attendance: 3,676 (85 away)
Rovers booked their place in the second round of the Emirates FA with a 4-2 victory over Crawley Town at the Mem.
Two goals each by the forward duo of Rory Gaffney and Matty Taylor fired Rovers to victory after extra-time against the SkyBet League Two outfit.
Heading into the match Rovers' boss Darrell Clarke made four changes from the side that faced Millwall on Saturday, with Cristian Montano, Byron Moore, Connor Roberts and Rory Gaffney all being recalled to the starting XI for the visit of Crawley
On the bench, academy goalkeeper, Kieran Hodges was included amongst the substitutes and there was also a return for Billy Bodin and Jake Clarke-Salter, with the defender returning from international duty with England U20's.
In the opening exchanges, both sides struggled to string passes together to muster a chance on goal. Crawley had a long-range effort from Billy Clifford that bounced harmlessly wide of Kelle Roos' goal, in what was the only opportunity in the opening ten minutes.
Rovers strung together a series of next exchanges down the left, with full-back Lee Brown combining serval times with Cristian Montano before advancing in to area, with Brown then able to lift his head up to square a pass across the area to Matty Taylor, with the forward taking one touch to control the ball before slipping on the wet surface just as he was going to shoot, giving the visitors the opportunity to clear their lines.
As the first-half progressed past the twenty-minute mark, Rovers were gifted an opportunity when a half-clearance from Chris Arthur picked out Stuart Sinclair who was able to break into the Crawley box before sending powerful effort towards goal that rose over the crossbar.
Rovers increased their attacking intent and Sinclair's opportunity to open the scoring was quickly followed by a neat piece of skill by Chris Lines, which saw the midfielder break into the area with a winding run and send a low-driven cross that was sent goalwards by Matty Taylor, but his effort was deflected narrowly past the post by the outstretched leg of Addison Garnett.
Matty Taylor didn't have to wait long for another opportunity to present itself, as a squared Rory Gaffney pass into the area again found the striker who mistimed a close-range effort with his attempt bouncing wide of the post.
The chances kept on coming for Rovers, as Rory Gaffney produced a well-timed run into the area to latch onto a delightful through ball by Chris Lines and the forward looked to have taken the ball around Crawley 'keeper Glenn Miller, but the shot-stopper recovered well to tip Gaffney's effort past the post.
Rovers were able to break the deadlock when a deep free-kick was quickly taken by Lee Brown, who feed the ball to Chris Lines and the midfielder picked out a chipped high ball into the area that was met by the leaping Matty Taylor, who was able to guide a header over Glenn Miller and into the back of the net to give Rovers the lead.
The home side continued to pressure Crawley, but it was the visitors who were able to pull back level in first-half stoppage time when a corner from the right-hand side bounced around the Rovers box, with the ball eventually falling to Jordan Roberts who directed a fierce effort into the top corner to make sure Crawley went into the half-time break all square.
Into the second half and Rovers were quick to register chances, with Chris Lines again involved in the attacking action, with the midfielder receiving the ball twenty-five yards out from goal and composing himself to a direct an effort that flew narrowly wide of the post.
Rovers were able to restore their lead just seven minutes into the second half, with Rory Gaffney capping off a fine individual move which saw the striker take the ball past Chris Arthur and squeeze his effort through a crowd of bodies to beat Glenn Morris at the near post.
Crawley responded to going a goal down with experienced striker James Collins doing well to get past Tom Lockyer, allowing him to direct a shot across the face of goal that was tipped around the post by faintest of touches by Kelle Roos.
The game was back level when the substitute duo of Bawling and Harold combined for Crawley, with Bobson Bawling breaking from deep, and running at pace he was able to shake off the advances of Peter Hartley and after drawing Kelle Roos off his line, Bawling managed to thread a pass to Matt Harold who able to keep his composure and finish into the empty Rovers goal.
As the game approached full-time, neither side was able to create a late chance to net a dramatic winner and the scores remained level at full-time.
Jake Clarke-Salter was introduced as the game entered extra-time, with Peter Hartley making way for the youngster.
Just minutes into extra-time Rovers were in front, as a deep cross from the left was flicked on via Luke James and the ball dropped kindly into the path of Rory Gaffney, who was able to take the ball down off his chest and slot the ball under Crawley 'keeper Glenn Miller for this second goal of the tie.
Rovers advantage was cemented just minutes later when Crawley were penalised for a foul on Luke James inside the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot to award a penalty to Rovers. Matty Taylor took the resulting spot-kick and calmly sent his effort into the top left corner of the net and well out of the reach of Glenn Miller.
Luke James came close to opening his Rovers account during the second period of extra-time, when striker avoided a series of challenges before sweetly connecting with a shot that struck the right-hand post, but Rovers were able to see out the tie without any further advances on their goal from Crawley.
The win secures Rovers' place in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup, where they will face Barrow AFC at the Mem, following their victory tonight over Taunton.
Rovers are back at in SkyBet League One action this Saturday, as MK Dons are the visitors to the Mem, with the Saturday's match being Rovers' dedicated Remembrance fixture.
Rovers: Kelle Roos (G), Connor Roberts, Tom Lockyer (C), Peter Hartley, Lee Brown; Byron Moore (45' Billy Bodin), Chris Lines, Stuart Sinclair, Cristian Montano (85' Luke James), Matty Taylor, Rory Gaffney.
Subs: Kieran Hodges (G), Ollie Clarke, Charlie Colkett, Jermaine Easter.
Crawley: Glenn Morris (G), Lewis Young, Chris Arthur (64' Enzio Boldewijn), Alex Davey, Jimmy Smith (C), Jordan Roberts (74' Conor Henderson), Addison Garrett, Billy Clifford, James Collins, Adi Yussuf, Kaby Djalo (58' Matt Harold)
Subs: Yusuf Mersin (G), Josh Payne, Bobson Bawling, Aryan Tajbakhsh
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