Bristol Rovers 2-0 Southend United
Attendance: 9,274 (607 away)
It took Rovers under a minute to find the net against Southend United, as Billy Bodin fired the home-side ahead with a fine left-footed strike. Rovers' lead was doubled through Rory Gaffney, as two first half goals were enough to record the victory, with Rovers extending their unbeaten run to nine games in SkyBet League One.
For the visit of Southend United, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke made four changes to the side that defeated Oxford United last Saturday, with Lee Mansell, Daniel Leadbitter, Cristian Montano and Rory Gaffney coming into the starting eleven.
The visitors named an unchanged starting eleven for their trip to the Memorial Stadium, with the experienced front line of Simon Cox and Marc-Antoine Fortune leading Southend's attacking options.
Rovers made the perfect start to the game, as Billy Bodin received the ball from a quickly taken free-kick from Chris Lines and the winger was able to cut inside from the right and launch a left-footed strike that soared into the net from the edge of the area, with Southend 'keeper Ted Smith unable to get a hand to Bodin's shot at full stretch, as Rovers raced to a one-goal lead inside fifty-seven seconds.
Chances kept coming for the home side, as Cristian Montano delivered a teasing cross from wide out left, with the winger's delivery eventually finding Chris Lines on the edge of the area who hit a right-footed volley that narrowly cleared the crossbar. Lines' chance was quickly followed by a delightful ball inside the area by Lee Mansell through to Montano, but after doing well to control the ball the winger directed his effort wide from a narrow angle.
Marc-Antoine Fortune created Southend's first chance of the game, as the striker beat Tom Lockyer down the right, but after cutting into the box the forward could only direct his driven effort straight into the hands of Joe Lumley.
Rovers doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark, as Rory Gaffney hit a superb right-footed effort from the edge of the penalty area that was similar to Bodin's opening goal, with Gaffney's driven shot clipping the post as it nestled into the bottom corner of the net, with Ted Smith again unable to get a hand to the well directed shot.
In response to Gaffney's goal, Phil Brown reacted by making an early double change, as Nile Ranger and Stephen McLaughlin were introduced, with Will Atkinson and Marc-Antoine Fortune making way before the half-time interval.
During first-half stoppage time, Rory Gaffney directed a powerful volley towards goal that was rebounded back to the striker who then played a dangerous ball across the face of goal that almost took a deflection into the net from one of the bodies inside the congested six-yard area, as Rovers headed into half-time with a healthy two-goal advantage.
Rovers started the second half brightly and were quick to test Ted Smith, with Rory Gaffney taking advantage of both time and space inside the area to attempt a curling effort into the far corner that required Smith to be alert to tip his attempt over the crossbar.
Ten minutes into the second period Luke James broke into the area and did well to get a shot away, but the striker's effort took a deflection off a covering defender which diverted his attempt onto the post, with goalkeeper Smith beaten.
Joe Lumley made a fine save from a Simon Cox free-kick, as the Rovers shot-stopper did well to get down to his left to turn the set-piece around the post after his line of sight was obstructed by a number of bodies around the Rovers wall. Cox's attempt was quickly followed by a cross into the Rovers area that found Nile Ranger, but the substitute striker headed the delivery well over the bar.
A long-range attempt by Rory Gaffney took a deflection that made the striker's effort tricky to gather for Ted Smith, who was forced to dive to his left to make a save.
Byron Moore and James Clarke were introduced from the bench, as Rovers saw out the closing stages of the game with little attacking threat from the visitors and late in the game, man of the match Rory Gaffney made way for Jake Clarke-Salter, as the Chelsea loanee made a welcomed return from a lengthy injury lay-off.
The win extends Rovers unbeaten run to nine games, ahead of a busy week which sees Rovers travel to Bury on Tuesday evening, before entertaining Chesterfield at the Mem next Saturday.
Bristol Rovers: Joe Lumley (G), Daniel Leadbitter (75' James Clarke), Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer (C), Lee Mansell, Chris Lines, Cristian Montano (64' Byron Moore), Billy Bodin, Luke James, Rory Gaffney (88' Jake Clarke-Salter), Ryan Sweeney.
Substitutes: Steve Mildenhall (G), James Clarke, Robert Harris, Byron Moore, Ryan Broom, Jonny Burn, Jake Clarke-Salter.
Southend United: Ted Smith, Ben Coker, Anthony Wordsworth, Adam Thompson, Michael Timlin (66' Theo Robinson), Simon Cox, Will Atkinson (36' Stephen McLaughlin), Marc-Antoine Fortune' (36' Nile Ranger), Ryan Leonard, Jason Demetriou, Anton Ferdinand (C).
Substitutes: Nathan Bishop (G), John White, Stephen McLaughlin, Luke Amos, Jermaine McGlashan, Theo Robinson, Nile Ranger.