Darrell Clarke took a strong side to Woodspring Park tonight where his side against Weston super Mare in a hugely entertaining game that saw his side knock the ball around with some aplomb, though they had to work hard for their victory against a well organised home defence.
Victory was achieved with a first half goal from Rory Gaffney and strikes by Ellis Harrison and Ryan Broom after the break.
As on Saturday Ollie Clarke again skippered the side selected for the first half and he had the first attempt on goal after only three minutes, but home keeper Luke Purnell comfortably saved his low effort.
The skipper then made a determined run forward and fashioned a shooting opportunity. However he elected to try to find the overlapping run of Lee Brown but his pass was intercepted and the ball cleared.
With ten minutes on the clock a low cross from the right by Daniel Leadbitter was met by Liam Sercombe and his first time volley was well saved by Purnell.
At this stage in proceedings Rovers were well on top, their quick passing game suiting the greasy surface.
Billy Bodin and Leadbitter then combined well down the right and created a chance for Rory Gaffney but the ball was hacked away by a Weston defender. Bodin and then Ollie Clarke both had shots blocked.
Sercombe was next to try his luck but ballooned his shot over the bar, giving the home side the chance of a much needed breather.
Having weathered the storm, Weston broke and a low ball into the box by Gethyn Hill signalled danger in the Rovers area for the first time in the match, but the ball was eventually cleared.
Rovers should have taken the lead on 25 minutes when Bodin played in Sercombe, whose low shot was smothered by Purnell who got down very quickly to deny the midfielder a goal.
Rovers took the lead two minutes later when a mazy run by Bodin saw him set up Gaffney whose angled drive found the back of the net in spite of Purnell’s despairing dive.
The keeper was in the thick of the action again shortly afterwards, diving low to his left to touch away Bodin’s goalbound shot.
Bodin was definitely on fire tonight as moments later he fizzed another low effort just past the post.
To their credit Weston attempted to play their way out from the back and former Rovers defender Danny Greenslade managed to get down the right before delivering a cross that evaded everyone and drifted behind for a goal and then Jason Pope hit a shot across the face of goal.
Sercombe was denied a goal minutes before the break when Purnell pulled of another fine close range save after the midfielder had met Leadbitter’s cross from the right.
Rovers made four changes at the break, but it was the home side who went close early on, through Pope, whose ferocious cross shot was headed clear.
Rovers’ first attack of the half saw Ellis Harrison exchange passes with Ollie Clarke before firing high and wide of the target. Stuart Sinclair was next to try his luck with an audacious long range effort that just cleared the bar.
Ryan Broom, who was looking lively following his introduction at half time, tested goalkeeper Purnell shortly afterwards but the shot stopper saved well.
Cameron Hargreaves, played in by Harrison, was denied a goal by a last ditch challenge by Jake Lee. Rovers, though doubled their lead on 64 minutes when Hargreaves played in Michael Kelly and his cross to the back post was headed in by Harrison.
Weston went close to pulling a goal back when a shot from Jordan Ricketts hit the side netting before Harrison broke for Rovers, only to be denied a shooting opportunity by Jamie Laird’s fine block.
Goal number three duly arrived when former Weston defender Michael Kelly picked out Harrison down the left and his ball into the box was backheeled into the net, from close range, by Broom.
Rovers: Adam Smith, Daniel Leadbitter (Jonny Burn, 46), James Clarke, Tom Broadbent (Luke Russe, 60), Lee Brown (Rollin Menayese, 55), Ollie Clarke (Michael Kelly, 55), Stuart Sinclair (Cameron Hargreaves, 55), Liam Sercombe (Lewis Hall, 46), Billy Bodin (Brandon Fox, 55), Rory Gaffney (Ellis Harrison, 46), Byron Moore (Ryan Broom, 46)
Goals: Gaffney (27), Harrison (64), Broom (75)