Rovers downed by Derby County

Bristol Rovers 0-3 Derby County
Sky Bet League One, Memorial Stadium, Saturday 9 March 2024

Bristol Rovers fell to a disappointing 0-3 defeat at home to promotion-chasing Derby County at the Memorial Stadium. 

Two quick-fire goals early in the second half gave the Rams the advantage in Saturday’s Sky Bet League One contest, as Dwight Gayle squeezed home following a scramble in the Rovers box on 54 minutes before Tom Barkhuizen powered home a strike two minutes later. 

The Gas were largely reduced to half chances against a tough opponent but Antony Evans, Scott Sinclair and substitute John Marquis went close for Rovers. 

But the three points were secured by the visitors as substitute Martyn Waghorn poked home with just a minute left to play. 

The promotion-chasing visitors enjoyed the best of an, in-truth, tepid first-half in the south west. A pair of early, in-swinging free-kicks by Joe Ward threatened to cause havoc in the Rovers penalty area but ultimately came to nothing. 

A best Rovers move of the first half came on 14 minutes when a free-flowing move, instigated by Antony Evans, led the Gas into a dangerous area. Luca Hoole stood up a ball for Kamil Conteh to attack, but the midfielder’s header was straight at goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.

The dangerous Nathaniel Mendez-Laing flashed an effort wide of Jed Ward’s post not long after, while Derby would see an opening effort ruled out on 31 minutes.

A quick move saw the Rams penetrate the Rovers’ defence, leading to Gayle poking home from six yards, but the finish was chalked off due to offside in the build-up.

All level at the break, Rovers had fought hard throughout the opening 45 minutes and even looked the brighter of the two sides in the opening exchanges of the second. 

However, the Gas fell behind in cruel circumstances on 54 minutes. Derby winger Barkhuizen hit the cross-bar and Gayle was there, scrambling through a sea of bodies to prod home from close range. 

The Rams’ lead was doubled not long after. Mendez-Laing burst down the left flank and cut a ball back for Barkhuizen, with the Derby No7 lashing home at the near post to add the Rams’ second.

A difficult challenge faced Matt Taylor’s side, who scratched and clawed in search of a way back into the fixture. Sam Finley’s fine volleyed effort was deflected out for a corner, before Evans fired over the bar with his first-time effort. 

Winger Sinclair thought he had the chance to reduce the deficit when he skipped past Wildsmith, but could not get his shot past the recovering Derby defence. 

The away side went close to their third with 13 minutes to play, only for the home back-line to clear the ball off the line, while Rovers substitute John Marquis almost made an immediate impact only to see his strike from six yards saved.

Derby should have added another goal on 85 minutes too, but substitute Waghorn fired his first-time shot from close range over the cross-bar, but the forward made no error four minutes later to score his side’s third and wrap up the three points for the visitors.


Bristol Rovers: Ward, Gordon (Brown 74), Finley © (Marquis 79), Sinclair, Taylor, Martin, Vale, Evans, Conteh, Baggott, Hoole
Subs not used: Cox (GK), Vaughan, Connolly, Grant, Crama
Booked: Conteh, Martin

Derby County: Wildsmith, Hourihane © (Thompson 90+1), Bradley, Cashin, Barkhuizen (Wilson 83), Mendez-Laing (Blackett-Taylor 90+1), Sibley, Ward, Gayle (Waghorn 74), Adams (Smith 73), Nelson
Subs not used: Loach (GK), Robinson
Goals: Gayle 54, Barkhuizen 58, Waghorn 89
Booked: Adams, Gayle

Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 9,937

Read Time: 3 mins