Rovers beat Northampton 2-1 in a tough battle at The Mem.
Bristol Rovers were 10 games unbeaten against Northampton Town coming into today’s fixture, in a streak that stretches back to 2016.
The new interim manager, Andy Mangan, made 2 changes to his maiden Rovers side. Harvey Vale returned to the starting side as well as George Friend, with Lamare Bogarde dropping to the bench and Luca Hoole missing out. There was also a return to the matchday squad for Luke Thomas following his successful rehabilitation from a hamstring problem which kept him sidelined.
A scare for Rovers came six minutes in when Patrick Brough fizzed in a low ball across the goalmouth with Tyreece Simpson very close to tapping home and putting the visitors in front, following a deflection off Tristan Crama. But, Matt Cox was there to get down quick and tip wide.
The deadlock would be broken at the other end by Rovers’ target man Chris Martin with an audacious flick from just outside the 6-yard-box. Jevani Brown played a lovely ball down the flank to Aaron Collins who pulled back and found Martin whose effort rolled in off the inside of the post, a lovely finish.
Cox would be called into action once again as Northampton looked to get back on level terms, but there would be no such equaliser due to the Englishman’s fine reflexes in the box.
Aaron Collins was on the end of a sweet lofted ball and as he went to knock past Burge in the Cobbler’s net, he was clattered into and Anthony Evans calmly placed the resulting penalty, doubling Rovers’ lead on the 30-minute mark.
More Rovers pressure resulted in a big opportunity to make it three when Jevani Brown nicked the ball on the left side of the 18-yard-box and looked for the square ball, which fell to Crama on the edge of the area but Burge was equal to the effort.
Collins soon found some space on the right flank and curled a cross towards the feet of Martin, who made decent content but couldn’t slot home.
Another incredible chance came for Rovers just before the break, when Sam Finley made a run through the middle, eventually finding Connor Taylor open to his left, the defender's shot was parried by Burge. Crama then followed in but a deflection off Collins sent the effort wide.
The second half started off as a cagey affair but in the 57th minute, Northampton pulled one back through Manny Monthé after a free-kick taken by Pinnock on the right-hand side.
Rovers thought they had scored a third when substitute John Marquis scored from Aaron Collins' cross, but the linesman raised his flag and halted the celebrations.
The hosts were still pushing to regain their two-goal lead but half-chances from Jevani Brown, John Marquis and Luke Thomas all fell short of the mark.
At the end of 7 additional minutes, Rovers took all 3 points in what was a tight and anxious second 45 following Manny Monthé’s headed finish early in the half. Rovers now look forward to hosting Whitby in the first round of the FA Cup next Saturday.
Bristol Rovers: Max Cox, George Friend (Luke Thomas), Josh Grant, Connor Taylor, Tristan Crama, Harvey Vale, Sam Finley (Lamare Bogardge 60’), Anthony Evans, Jevani Brown (James Gibbons 93’), Aaron Collins, Chris Martin (John Marquis 60’).
Northampton Town: Lee Burge, Sam Sherring, Sam Hoskins ©, Mitch Pinnock, Manny Monthé (Aaron McGowan 83’), Jordan Willis (Will Hondermark 46’), Tyreece Simpson (Ryan Haynes 86’), Shaun McWilliams, Marc Leonard, Akin Odimayo, Patrick Brough (Ali Koiki 69’).
Attendance- 8518 (Including 596 travelling fans)