‘Caught the eye, rock solid’ - Bristol Rovers player ratings in Crystal Palace win

Bristol Rovers player ratings from the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at the Memorial Stadium
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Bristol Rovers ended their nine-match winless run by defeating Crystal Palace 2-0 at the Memorial Stadium in the EFL Trophy group stages.

Trevor Clarke scored his first goal in Gas colours in addition to Alfie Kilgour’s first-half stoppage-time header to cement the win.

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The only gloss off the victory was the dismissal of player-coach Glenn Whelan for dissent after his involvement in a scuffle.

Joey Barton’s side moved up to second in their group and play bottom-placed Swindon Town in over a fortnight with a chance of progression.

Tale of the match

Rovers began the game on the front foot and used the flanks to cause the Palace defence problems. Sylvester Jasper skillfully dribbled past his markers before firing a low-shot at Joe Whitworth, whilst Harvey Saunders also had some joy but his cross went abegging.

Luca Hoole had the first meaningful opportunity as he squeezed past Noah Watson to shoot from an acute angle but the goalkeeper flapped at it and was able to get the ball away.

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Rovers had to contend with injury scares to Jasper and John Marquis but both were able to continue. In a congested penalty box from an uncleared corner-kick, the on-loan Fulham winger swept a shot at Whitworth but was denied from close-range.

Jasper continued to cause problems and Rovers played neat football with Marquis heading the ball down for him to shoot but it deflected over the bar.

Towards the end of the first period, Saunders forced Whitworth in to more action as he let fly with a low drilled shot from 25-yards. Saunders threatened once more as he high-pressed on the goalkeeper and it deflected off of his forehead just over the bar.

Rovers broke the deadlock after a dominant first-half display through a set-piece. Paul Coutts’ corner was firmly headed in by an unmarked Kilgour.

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Palace almost sent an immediate response as John Kymani-Gordon forced Anssi Jakkola to dive down low to his right-hand corner, prevailing the home sides first-half lead.

At the break, Rovers introduced Josh Coburn for his debut, replacing Marquis, whilst goalscorer Kilgour made way for Bobby Thomas.

Palace had several half-chances to get back on level terms but the hosts defence held firm to deny them.

Rovers doubled their advantage after a series of changes but it was one of their starters that struck. Jasper intertwined with Clarke and after Palace failed to clear, the latter curled home an attempt on his weaker foot.

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The visitors almost got a goal back as Kofi Balmer got ahead of a long-ball over the top and headed down at goal but Jaakkola palmed it away. Defending palace’s goal on the counter-attack, Balmer grabbed Clarke’s shirt to stop him from running. It resulted in a scuffle between the two sides and the result was a straight dismissal for Whelan.

Clarke almost scored a goal for Palace as when defending a corner, his downward header cannoned off the crossbar but fortunately bounced the other way.

Player ratings

Anssi Jaakkola - 7

Didn’t get given too much to do but made an important save to preserve Rovers’ lead after going ahead. Made another good save in the second-half.

Luca Hoole - 7

A tidy performance from Hoole who enjoyed playing in his natural position at right-back. He almost got a goal and did well defensively.

Alfie Kilgour - 8

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A rock-solid performance from the academy graduate. Rovers’ formation and style of play is something he’s acclimatising to but he’s getting better in possession.

Trevor Clarke - 8

Clarke does have a right-foot! Predominantly a left-sided player, he took his goal well but chasing a lost ball, challenging for it and then curling one in on his weaker foot.

He really caught the eye and was lively all evening for Rovers. A welcomed headache for Barton when choosing his team.

Sylvester Jasper - 7

Jasper was a bag of tricks and terrorised the full-backs at times. He had a confident first-half display where he had the beating of many of the full-backs. Fell off slightly in the second period after Palace doubled up on him.

Glenn Whelan - 5

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A moment in the second-half saw Whelan give away the ball cheaply, almost giving Palace a route back in to the game. He was shown a red card for his involvement in a scuffle with the youthful Kofi Balmer.

Zain Westbrooke - 7

Rovers controlled the midfield in the first period and Westbrooke did well defensively alongside Coutts. He was successful with several through ball attempts

Paul Coutts - 7

Rovers’ set-piece tactic worked a treat as Coutts’ corner kick found the head of Kilgour. He was assured in the centre of the park.

Luke McCormick - 6

Games like this will be a benefit to McCormick who as in desperate need of game time. McCormick was slightly wasteful in possession and did not impose himself on the match.

John Marquis - 7

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A contentful showing from Marquis who looked slightly more confident after scoring against Exeter on the weekend. He didn’t have any clear-cut chances but linked up well with his teammates.

Harvey Saunders - 7

Saunders showed some promise down his flank and had the beating of the full-backs. His crosses were challenging but his teammates couldn’t anticipate them. Saunders caused some problems in the second-half but was later subbed.

Josh Coburn (subbed on, 46) - 6

Introduced at the break but didn’t have any clear-cut opportunities.

Bobby Thomas (subbed on, 46) - 7

A few nearly moments for Palace but he recovered. A presence in the air from Palace’s crosses.

James Gibbons (subbed on, 61) - 6

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Replaced Hoole and did alright when he came on. It’s all about building up minutes in the locker after a lengthy injury.

Lewis Gibson (subbed on, 61) - 7

Played a slightly more attacking role and went forward on occasions. Assured in how he played.

Ryan Loft (subbed on, 70) - 6

A yellow card for Loft saw the striker walk on a tight rope as he challenged for balls. No real attempts of note.

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