Bristol Rovers 5-0 Northampton Town
Attendance: 8,424 (321 away)
Billy Bodin's opening goal inside the first ten minutes was followed by an impressive four goals from Ellis Harrison, as the Gas secured their fourth consecutive home victory at the Mem by defeating Northampton Town by a 5-0 scoreline.
Heading into the encounter at the Memorial Stadium, Rovers made eight changes in total to the side that lost at Charlton Athletic on Monday, with James Clarke, Mark McChrystal, Billy Bodin, Ollie Clarke, Chris Lines, Ellis Harrison and Matty Taylor all come into the starting line-up.
Rovers started the game with a high attacking intent, which led to the home side registering the first shot on target when Ellis Harrison received the ball to his feet, before the striker turned his body sharply and sent a driven shot towards goals that was fumbled by Northampton goalkeeper Adam Smith, but the shot-stopper was able to clutch the ball at his second attempt while on the ground.
Rovers took the lead in the seventh minute when Billy Bodin was able to take down a loose ball and advance towards the Northampton penalty box. The winger shifted the ball from his left foot to his right and in doing so created enough space to get his shot away from twenty-yards and after connecting sweetly with his shot the ball flew emphatically into the top corner of the net.
The home side continued to press the visitors, with Billy Bodin involved in the build-up to Rovers' second goal, with the winger feeding the ball out wide to James Clarke, where the right-back was able to deliver a low cross into the area. Ellis Harrison wasn't picked up by the Northampton back-four and the striker was able to time a run to the near post to provide a touch that diverted Clarke's cross into the back of the net.
The striker didn't have to wait long for his second goal, when a corner from Chris Lines was met by Mark McCrystal, who fired a threatening header across the face of goal, with Ellis applying the finishing touch to head the ball over the line at the far post.
The striker completed a seven-minute hat-trick when another low cross into the area was met with a delightful flick from close-range from the striker, who used his left-foot to provide a finish that took the ball out of reach of Adam Smith in goal.
Rovers had a further opportunity to add to their four-goal lead in the minutes before half-time, when a Chris Lines corner again caused Northampton problems, with Tom Lockyer connecting with the midfielder's set-piece, but the defender lifted his header narrowly over the crossbar.
The hosts started the second half as brightly as they had started the first, with James Clarke bursting down the right-wing, before squaring a pass to Chris Lines, with the midfielder beating his man to the ball inside the area, but opting to hit a first-time shot, Lines dragged his effort narrowly wide of the post.
Just ten minutes after the break Rovers were able to extend their lead further, when Matty Taylor lifted a teasing cross into the area, which wasn't dealt with by the visitors, allowing Billy Bodin to pick up the ball inside the six-yard box and the winger picked out Ellis Harrison, with the striker waiting patiently for a clear path on goal before slotting home his close-range effort to net his fourth goal of the afternoon.
The visitors registered their first shot on target in the sixty-eighth minute, as substitute JJ Hooper was able to direct a powerful shot towards goal from near the penalty spot, but his effort was well held by Will Puddy.
The home side continued to create chances in the final stages of the game, with Jermaine Easter working the ball to James Clarke mid-way inside the Northampton half. The defender set himself early to shoot and launched a long-range effort from thirty-years that kept rising as the ball flew over the crossbar. Byron Moore also came close with a measured side-footed attempt from the edge of the area, which flashed narrowly past the left-hand post.
The victory over Northampton marked Rovers fourth consecutive home win, following victories in December over Bury, Coventry and AFC Wimbledon at the Memorial Stadium.
Next up for Rovers is a trip to Fleetwood Town next Saturday in SkyBet League One.
Rovers: Will Puddy; James Clarke, Tom Lockyer, Mark McChrystal (C), Lee Brown; Billy Bodin (79' Liam Lawrence), Ollie Clarke, Chris Lines, Cristian Montano (59' Byron Moore), Ellis Harrison, Matty Taylor (70' Jermaine Easter).
Subs: Kelle Roos (GK), Lee Mansell, Stuart Sinclair, Rory Gaffney.
Northampton Town: Adam Smith (GK), David Buchanan (C), Paul Anderson (45' JJ Hooper), Zander Diamond, Hiram Boateng, Alex Revell, Sam Hoskins, Harry Beautyman (27' John-Joe O'Toole), Gregg Wylde (27' Marc Richards), Rod McDonald, Matthew Taylor.
Subs: David Cornell (GK), Jak McCourt, Alfie Potter, Raheem Hanley.