Crawley Town 1-2 Bristol Rovers: Player ratings, MOTM, heroes & villains as Gas back to winning ways

Aaron Collins continued his fine goal scoring form as he helped his side to victory. (Image:Cory Pickford/SussexWorld)Aaron Collins continued his fine goal scoring form as he helped his side to victory. (Image:Cory Pickford/SussexWorld)
Aaron Collins continued his fine goal scoring form as he helped his side to victory. (Image:Cory Pickford/SussexWorld) | Cory Pickford
Bristol Rovers issued the perfect response to the defeat at Newport by defeating Crawley under the floodlights in Sussex

Bristol Rovers got back to winning ways as they navigated past a tricky Crawley Town with a 2-1 win at the People’s Pension Stadium.

Harry Anderson put the Gas in front late in the first-half before Aaron Collins doubled their advantage after the hour. Paul Coutts’ own goal brought the game back to one but the Red Devils were unable to yield a second response.

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Joey Barton’s men remain in ninth but reduce the gap back to two points on seventh-placed Tranmere Rovers, whilst they are only three points off an automatic spot. 

Tale of the game

Before the match, two changes were made to the team that lost to Newport with Paul Coutts and Sam Finley coming in for Glenn Whelan and Sam Nicholson, with the duo taking their place in the centre of the park and Evans moving further forward.

A defensive mistake almost gifted Crawley an early lead with James Connolly failing to hold a heavy back pass which George Francombe pounced on but he failed to make him pay as his shot flew over the bar. Forward Ashley Nadesan then went near after being played through, his attempt scuffed just past the post.

Rovers’ first shot came from the edge of the box with Aaron Collins’ shot taking a deflection which Glenn Morris got down to.

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An under-hit header on a watery surface from Anderson to Belshaw almost got the away side in trouble as Nadesan took it off him, but the keeper spared his blushes.

Up next was Jack Powell, who from an acute angle, forced the Rovers keeper to block his near post his legs. In an end to end battle, up in the other box, Collins drifted out the flank and teed up Harry Anderson, who drew Morris into a low save.

The game was brought to a lengthy stop as not only did Jordan Tunnicliffe come off with an injury, as did the referee Lee Swabey, who was replaced by Nick Dunn, for his first League Two game in the middle.

It was Rovers who found their feet again and they took the lead. Antony Evans played a ball through to Harry Anderson and from his flank he drilled a shot low into the corner for his fifth goal of the season.

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In the second of eight additional first-half minutes, Nick Tsaroulla sought a response and after bursting into the box, he laced a shot at Belshaw who saved, whilst Will Ferry’s rebounded shot was closed down.For the remainder of the first period, Rovers were able to see out the challenge.

The second half started with a fast pace and Crawley had a good chance to draw level but substitute Kwesi Appiah saw his header from Powell’s free-kick saved by Belshaw.

Rovers had their own chance and it would have been a sublime assist for Elliot Anderson, who sprayed a pass from just inside the half, had Collins got his lob in the net rather than on the roof of the goal.

They were in the ascendancy  and should have been two ahead but Elliot Anderson was unable to direct home from Luca Hoole’s cross.

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Just after the hour mark, they got that insurance goal that they had required. Hoole intercepted a loose ball, before finding his countryman with a pinpoint cross with Collins controlling the ball before smashing it under Morris.

That lead would quickly be reduced to one as from a corner kick, Jake Hessenthaler rose highest to head towards goal with Paul Coutts unfortunately putting it into his own net.

With five minutes to go, Crawley were pushing for an equaliser and Powell nearly got that but for the crossbar which he clipped with a free-kick.

In the dying moments of the match, Rovers were able to clear the ball off of the line in a dramatic ending.

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Harry Anderson got his fifth goal of the season as he continues to take his chance. (Image: Cory Pickford/SussexWorld)Harry Anderson got his fifth goal of the season as he continues to take his chance. (Image: Cory Pickford/SussexWorld)
Harry Anderson got his fifth goal of the season as he continues to take his chance. (Image: Cory Pickford/SussexWorld) | Cory Pickford

Heroes

Harry Anderson: Over the last few weeks, Harry has emerged as an important player for this side. He’s had to fill in at left-back a few times but in his usual position as a winger is where he causes his most problems.

Whilst there may have been a suspicion of offside for Collins, Anderson timed his run well and got himself into the right shooting position for his goal.

James Belshaw: Another superb display from the goalkeeper who was unphased by the multiple threats of Crawley. There were goal-bound headers to deal with whilst he also had to rush out a few times to deal with. Absolutely nothing he could do about the goal given the congested box.

Villains

Crawley Town’s sprinklers: Whether they were structured or not, the ground staff of Crawley heavily watered the pitch during the warm-ups. The pitch was quite slippery and the Rovers players tended to lose their footing on many occasions, whilst the ball also didn’t move in their favour.

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The referees: A bit of a harsh inclusion but as we thought the game might be paused due to an injury to Jordan Tunnicliffe, there was also an injury to Lee Swabey and had to make way for his fourth official. Not for his refereeing decisions as he managed the game quite well, but Nick Dunn was quite literally involved in the action. Twice when Rovers went on the attack, he got in the way of their pass.

Player ratings

Crawley Town (5-3-2): Glenn Morris 6, Will Ferry 7, Jordan Tunnicliffe 6, (Jake Hessenthaler, 29;6), Tony Craig 6, Joel Lynch 7, Nick Tsaroulla 6, George Francombe (James Tilley, 69), Jack Payne 6, Jack Powell 7, Ashley Nadesan  6, Isaac Hutchinson 6 (Kwesi Appiah, 46;6)

Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): James Belshaw, Luca Hoole 7, Connor Taylor 6, James Connolly 6, Nick Anderton 6, Sam Finley 7 (Glenn Whelan, 76;6), Paul Coutts 6, Harry Anderson 8, Elliot Anderson 6, Antony Evans 7, Aaron Collins 7 (Ryan Loft, 91;n/a)

Man of the Match

Harry Anderson. He was Rovers’ creative bright spark.

What’s next?

After two consecutive home away matches, Rovers are back home on Saturday as they face mid-table Harrogate Town.

Crawley after their two consecutive home games will be on their travels against Port Vale.

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