Bristol Rovers set the standard for the season as Newcastle United’s Elliot Anderson dazzles
After a difficult week which only saw one point picked up against Mansfield rather than against lowly Oldham, the Gas had to find a response.
They issued a perfect response by ending the 12-game unbeaten run of Sutton United, who were as equal in quality as Mansfield on Saturday.
An early goal from Harry Anderson set the tone of the match and there could have been more had Rovers’ attacking quartet been more clinical in the first half and Paul Coutts put away his penalty.
Fortunately Aaron Collins was able to grab his seventh goal in 11 games just a minute into the second-half to ensure all three points.
Aaron Collins back on the score sheet
It’d been three games since Collins found the back of the net with that late winner against Walsall but the Welshman was back amongst the goals with a long-ranged finish this evening. He could have got a goal earlier on in the same with a completely different finish after touching home Sam Nicholson’s shot but he was judged to be offside.
Three goals is hardly a drought but getting their top scorer back scoring is one of the key ingredients to a successful run. He’s worked hard in previous games and got an assist against Oldham Athletic.
Assured Anderton fills in at left-back
He won’t get the biggest of recognition but this was a good showing from left-back Nick Anderton tonight, who is more suited to centre-back.
Rovers have needed someone to fill in at left-back because of the absence of Junior Brown and Trevor Clarke, as well as Josh Grant who can also play there.
He put a solid shift in and especially in the second half ensured that there was no pressure from the Sutton United attack who had the likes of David Ajiboye in their ranks.
FotMob had him ranked as Rovers’ highest-ranking defender with his defensive stats coming off positively. He had won eight out of his 15 duels both aerially and on the ground. The makeshift full-back also won all of his tackles, made four recoveries and two interceptions.
Newcastle loanee shows promise
Elliot Anderson had his best performance in a Bristol Rovers shirt since his Deadline Day move.
The 19-year-old played with real confidence and earned his first goal contribution in the blue and white quarters by setting up Harry Anderson.
At times he was greedy in possession and opted to go for the shot rather than play the pass but from most of his attempts, they weren’t too far away from the goal.
Given that Antony Evans will be out for at least the next two games, there was a noticeable gap left in that role and fortunately, Anderson’s performance is one that can give Joey Barton confidence in choosing him when Evans isn’t available.
The statistics make for good reading for Anderson who had almost a complete performance but for a goal.
He was neat and intricate with his passing where he had a pass success rate of 83%, playing 40 passes with four of those being regarded as key.
There was also a defensive side to his game and when he was challenged for the ball he won three out of four times so it isn’t just about creativity when it comes to Anderson.
In the eyes of FotMob, he ranked at 8.5 which was just 0.3 ratings behind man-of-the-match Aaron Collins.
Motivation for a run of form
Four points against two of League Two’s in-form teams can give Rovers the motivation to go on their own run. They had been unbeaten in six before losing to Oldham but now there’s no reason why they can’t see what other teams have done and put together a string of positive results.
The schedule may be gruelling given the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday sequence of games but it looks like the injury situation is getting better now so there is a squad able to cope with that.
To be six points off of a play-off spot with some games in hand can only give them the confidence to go and achieve that task.