Bristol Rovers 2-1 Northampton Town: player ratings, MOTM, heroes & villains as ten-man Gas win

Bristol Rovers held on for victory despite Glenn Whelan’s red card. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Bristol Rovers held on for victory despite Glenn Whelan’s red card. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Bristol Rovers held on for victory despite Glenn Whelan’s red card. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Ten-man Bristol Rovers claim a 2-1 win over Northampton Town at the Memorial Stadium in a hectic match.

Bristol Rovers put in a workmanlike performance as they came from behind to claim a confidence-boosting win over Northampton Town.

Josh Grant and Antony Evans both scored in the second-half after first conceding to Sam Hoskins from the penalty spot.

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Joey Barton’s side were made to work hard as first the energetic Evans was injured before Glenn Whelan was sent off for two bookable offences.

The win lifts the Gas up to 14th in the table while Northampton drop out of the automatic spots.

Rovers suffered from Sam Hoskins’ setback to claw back victory. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Rovers suffered from Sam Hoskins’ setback to claw back victory. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Rovers suffered from Sam Hoskins’ setback to claw back victory. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Tale of the match

A route-one ball from James Belshaw found wing-back Josh Grant in space, who ran into the box to pick out Antony Evans who placed a shot just past the post.

Northampton, recovering from the attack, carved an early opportunity of their own as Kion Etete forced Belshaw into a save at his near post.

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The game became quite a cagey affair with most of the action moving in the midfield.

Grant, who had some early joy down his flank, should have put the hosts a goal to the good. Finley won a flick-on to Grant for a gilt-edged chance but he directed his effort onto the post.

Against the run of play, the away side took the lead through a soft penalty decision as Connor Taylor was adjudged to have fouled Paul Lewis. Hoskins changed his usual spot-piece destination to the right of the goal to send Belshaw the wrong way.

Starting the second-half on the front foot, Rovers made their early pressure count as they got back on level terms. A quickly taken free-kick was played down the line to Harry Anderson to cross into opposite wing-back Grant whose awkward header beat Liam Roberts.

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The complexion of the game then changed as Rovers took the lead through a gift from the away side.

Jon Guthrie lost possession just outside the box after pressure from Sam Nicholson and Evans was on hand to pick up the loose ball and tuck his shot into his near post.

There would be a double-whammy in a matter of minutes for Joey Barton to deal with though. First Grant had to be withdrawn and then Whelan received a yellow card for a second bookable offence.

In a half which became stop-start due to quarrels amongst players as well as injuries, Rovers had to withstand a further eight additional minutes.

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Ali Koiki put Belshaw under pressure with a cross-hit shot and then to the relief of the goalkeeper Dylan Connolly put his shot wide.

The last act of the match was for Connor Taylor to clear a Northampton header off the line to ensure no further drama would take place.

The heroes

Josh Grant: Before being brought off, the makeshift wing-back was the player which had the most effect on the game.

In the first-half he made a number of runs down his flank which caused a number of issues for the away defence.

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He had a quieter end to the first period but when the players emerged for the second forty five, he found his rhythm again and got a deserved goal.

Anderson’s cross found him in a well-placed position and credit to Grant for showing great physical strength to bustle off his marker.

Grant won most of the aerial duels that he competed for including his goal, as well as playing more than half of his accurate passes.

Connor Taylor: Bouncing back from conceding the penalty on Paul Lewis, the recently crowned Young Player of the Month ensured victory for the Gas. In the last kick of the match he cleared the ball of the line and was met by a huge roar from the home faithful.

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As a defender, he lost out just four times in his aerial duels, claiming 12 victories in the air as he dealt with Northampton’s crosses, whilst he was also good on the floor.

Antony Evans: Another one of the goalscorers who was brought off early, this time due to shuffling the pack as they defended the lead, Evans did the job asked of him. He was in the right position to pick up the loose ball and slot home in a glorious position.

Rovers are in need of a striker right now but when Evans takes the one chance he was presented with, it’s a welcome relief that he’s up to the task. As well as his role in attack, he also contributed to the team on a whole, playing more than 79% accurate passes, as well as making three tackles, the joint most in the game.

The villains

Jon Guthrie: Ultimately at fault for the goal which gave Rovers the win. An experienced defender like himself was caught napping in defence and was punished for it as Evans scored the match-winning goal.

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Glenn Whelan: For a player of his experience, perhaps he should have been a bit calmer in the tackles he made as he received two yellow cards.

Both could be regarded as fouls, firstly in the first-half when he slid in on Shaun McWilliams, then in the second, he put a tackle on Mitch Pinnock.

As of the nature of two yellow cards, the club will be unable to appeal it which will see him suspended for the next match.

Sam Hoskins: He played the role of pantomime villain well in the first-half.

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After scoring his penalty, he made sure the Rovers fans knew by pointing to the badge on his shirt, whilst revelling in his celebration.

He was in the ears of both the referee and the assistant a few times, questioning a number of decisions.

Deservedly got a yellow card when he conceded a foul whilst Rovers were on the attack. His foul caused the game to pause for a number of minutes, which brought the game out of the referees control.

Player ratings

Bristol Rovers (3-5-2): James Belshaw 6, Josh Grant 8, (Nick Anderton, 64), Alfie Kilgour 7, Sam Finley 7, Sam Nicholson 7, (Aaron Collins, 88), Paul Coutts 6 C, Connor Taylor 7, Harry Anderson 7, Antony Evans (Luke Thomas, 69), 7, Cian Harries, 7 Glenn Whelan 5

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Northampton Town (4-4-1-1): Liam Roberts, Jon Guthrie 5, Fraser Horsfall 6 Sam Hoskins 7, Paul Lewis, 6, Mitch Pinnock 6 (Dylan Connolly, 75), Ali Koiki 5, Jordan Flores 6, (Nicke Kamamba, 75), Shaun McWilliams 6, Kion Etete 6, Dominic Revan 5, (Michael Harriman, 75)

Man of the Match

Awarded the Man of the Match inside the Mem, you couldn’t give it to anyone else other than Josh Grant.

For the hour he played in the match, he put in a stellar performance and was everything that Rovers needed when going forward.

What’s next?

FA Cup progression will be on the minds of everyone at Rovers when Oxford United rock up to the Mem on Tuesday.

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After a 2-2 draw in the match at the Kassam Stadium, the League One outfit have to travel for a replay, with the victor knowing Sutton United awaits them in the next round.

Northampton are also playing for a place in the next round as they make their way to Cambridge United on the same day.

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