Everton man scores first ever goal as Bristol Rovers beat Fleetwood
Lewis Gibson's goal helped Bristol Rovers taste victory at his and Joey Barton's former club Fleetwood Town in a 2-1 win at Highbury Stadium.
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Jayden Stockley opened the scoring for the hosts but on-loan Everton defender Gibson scored in the 56th minute with a rebounded effort and then former Blackpool midfielder Ward netted with a cross-hit shot that ended up beating Jay Lynch. Rovers won both games over the Easter period, taking six points from a possible six which has put them one point off of their target that Joey Barton set out for the club at the start of the campaign.
The Gas are now 14th, and go above former Barton's former club, and create a distance of 13 points between themselves and the relegation zone. Rovers have a game in hand over Accrington also, and are just two points off of mid-table.
It was a lively start for the visitors as Luca Hoole fed Antony Evans with a nice pass but Earl intercepted the pass. Fleetwood got it to the edge of the box and were able to close down Grant Ward’s shot.
Fleetwood broke in to the box in the opening five minutes but Shaun Rooney’s cross was blocked by James Connolly and then cleared by Lewis Gibson.
Both sides put in strong challenges of their own as Lamare Bogarde went in and then Josh Vela followed it up. Rooney put in a nasty challenge on Lewis Gordon wide on the left hand side but surprisingly escaped a booking. Evans lined it up but Gibson fluffed his lines in a good position.
A stoppage in play because of an injury to Harvey Macadam almost allowed Fleetwood to catch out the Rovers defender. Phoenix Patterson put in a good ball and Jayden Stockley flashed a header over the bar.
Aaron Collins earned the first yellow card of the match. The referee judged him to have gone in with a high foot on Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu.
Fleetwood broke the deadlock through Stockley who had fired a warning sign. Daniel Batty’s cross was headed across goal by Rooney and Stockley nodded past James Belshaw.
The referee brandished a yellow card to Fleetwood for the first-time in the 26th minute. Lewis Warrington went in rash on Hoole for a free-kick on the far side from 30-yards out. Rovers earned a corner-kick but again Fleetwood dealt with their set-piece.
Rovers best chance came when Aaron Collins crossed in from the right-hand side but Marquis’ header went over. Collins tried once more with a low cross moments after but Josh Earl cut it out.
The visitors finished the half strongly and Collins forced Jay Lynch in to action with a header from Gordon’s cross. In stoppage-time, Evans’ gilt-edged header was diverted wide of the post with a good delivery from Gordon.
Barton rung the changes at the break with Evans and Marquis replaced for Ryan Loft and Josh Coburn but with no change in shape. Loft’s first action was to square up with pantomime villain Rooney. The match continued to be played with a level of feistiness and Sarpong-Wiredu was booked for fouling Loft and later Rooney was booked for kicking the ball away.
Rovers got back on level terms with Gibson scoring against his former club. Sam Finley laid off a free-kick to Collins that Lynch fumbled and then Coburn’s rebound hit the post but Gibson was able to strike home.
Fleetwood appealed for a penalty shortly after Gibson’s goal but it was waved away by the referee. Gibson and Rooney tussled and the latter fell in the box but it was deemed to be a dive.
Rovers took a deserved lead just after the hour mark with a fortuitous effort from Ward beating Lynch. A ball was laid off to the midfielder and he hit a right-footed cross that ended up evading everyone and beating the flapping goalkeeper.
Fleetwood failed to put Belshaw any pressure after going behind and instead Collins forced Lynch into action with a 25-yard effort. The Welshman came off for James Gibbons with 10 minutes remaining as Rovers went defensive for the latter stages of the match and it worked with minimal threat on their goal, allowing them to return to the West Country with maximum points.
Fleetwood Town (4-2-3-1): Jay Lynch, Shaun Rooney, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, Josh Earl, Corrie Ndaba; Josh Vela, Lewis Warrington, Harvey MacAdam (Daniel Batty, 15), Jayden Stockley, Phoenix Patterson; Jack Marriott.
Goals: Jayden Stockley 22’
Yellow Cards: Lewis Warrington, 27, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu 48, Shaun Rooney 55’
Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): James Belshaw; Luca Hoole, James Connolly, Lewis Gibson, Lewis Gordon; Grant Ward, Lamare Bogarde, Aaron Collins (James Gibbons, 81), Sam Finley (Harry Anderson, 89), Antony Evans (Ryan Loft, 46), John Marquis (Josh Coburn, 46).
Goals: Lewis Gibson 56, Grant Ward 66’
Yellow Cards: Aaron Collins 21’