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1 March 2016

Bristol Rovers 4-1 Hartlepool United

Attendance: 6,634 (87)

Rovers strolled to a comfortable victory against Hartlepool United at the Memorial Stadium.

A Rory Gaffney goal and a Matty Taylor hattrick wrapped up all three points for Rovers with Pools skipper Billy Paynter grabbing a consolation for the visitors.

Darrell Clarke made three changes to the side that lost at Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend bringing Billy Bodin, Chris Lines and Matty Taylor back into the starting 11 at the expense of Daniel Leadbitter, Ollie Clarke and Jermaine Easter who dropped to the substitutes bench.

Rovers started the game well with Lee Brown finding bags of space on the left hand side before swinging a delightful cross into Matty Taylor who glanced his header just over the crossbar.

However Taylor didn't end his bright start with the one opportunity. Minutes later he received a ball on the edge of the area from Billy Bodin, controlling it well before lashing the ball past Trevor Carson with his left foot.

Rovers continued to dominate inside the opening 20 minutes and Matty Taylor had the ball in the back of the net for a second time tapping home Lee Brown's cross from inside the six-yard box only to see the linesman rule his effort out for offside.

Pools offered very little in the way of attacking threat in the first half and with 15 minutes to go Rory Gaffney doubled the lead. The Irishman latched onto a mistake from Scott Harrison before showing fantastic composure in the penalty area walking his way into the six-yard box before casually stroking the ball home.

Darrell Clarke's men continued to dominate the first half and extended their lead again with five minutes remaining. Lee Brown was given space to run into again before picking out Matty Taylor at the near post who made no mistake nodding the ball past a hapless Trevor Carson.

The visitors only had one real effort of note inside the first half as Brad Walker's free kick from the edge of the penalty area came crashing back off the crossbar.

Craig Hignett's men came out looking more confident in the second half and were rewarded with a goal after some slick attacking play. Luke James was clever on the Pools right hand side before slipping a ball into the path of Billy Paynter who snatched a goal back for United.

However, Rovers and Matty Taylor didn't stop there. Under five minutes after Paynter had reduced the deficit, Taylor hit the back of the net to claim his second hattrick of the season. Lee Brown was allowed acres of space on the left again before slipping a low ball into the path of Taylor who had the whole goal to aim at as Trevor Carson was rooted to his near post.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Darrell Clarke replaced both his goal scorers to a fantastic reception from the Rovers faithful as Jermaine Easter and Ellis Harrison took to the field.

Going into the closing stages of the game Rovers continued to dominate possession but never really threatened Trevor Carson's goal again as Rovers moved back into the Play-Off places. 

Up next for Rovers is the trip North to take on Notts County before Darrell Clarke's men entertain AFC Wimbledon at the Mem in a weeks time.

Rovers: Mildenhall; J. Clarke, Lockyer, McChrystal (C), Brown; Bodin, Mansell (O. Clarke - 81), Lines, Lawrence; Taylor (Easter - 75), Gaffney (Harrison - 77).

Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), Leadbitter, Parkes, Montano, Harrison.

Hartlepool: Carson; Magnay, Carroll, Bates, Thomas (Fenwick - 58), Walker, Paynter (C) (Oates - 75), Featherstone (Hawkins - 65), Jackson, Gray, James.

Unused Substitutes: Caig (GK), Harrison, Oates, Richards, Laurent.

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