Josh Grant stands out as Bristol Rovers claim hard-fought win over Northampton

Josh Grant set the tone of the game with his high level of performance. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Josh Grant set the tone of the game with his high level of performance. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Josh Grant set the tone of the game with his high level of performance. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Bristol Rovers made steady steps as they moved up two places following their win over Northampton

Bristol Rovers sent the fans home happy as they defeated Northampton Town 2-1 at the Memorial Stadium.

Josh Grant and Antony Evans scored in a five-minute spell to snatch the win from under the Cobblers’ noses after Sam Hoskins had put them in front.

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The Gas were made to work hard for the win as man-of-the-match Grant was withdrawn through injury whilst Glenn Whelan was dismissed for two bookable offences.

Below are some of the talking points from Saturday night’s win:

The impact of Grant

The role of wing-back on the left-hand side isn’t Grant’s familiar position but it’s one he’s excelling in right now.

It’s been somewhat a stroke of genius to try him there given the injuries to both Junior Brown and Trevor Clarke have suffered.

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He’s adapted to life there well and this position allowed him to impact the game the most.

Rovers’ game plan in the first-half was to continuously pick out the 23-year-old and it was working. Northampton weren’t picking his runs up and he was creating opportunities.

He should have put his side in front but hit the post but he atoned for his missed attempt in the second half.

Anderson found him with a delicious cross and Grant was the only one claiming the cross in the compacted box.

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Whether he remains in the position when the injury list becomes thinner remains to be seen but it’s really appreciative right now that he can step up in times when he’s needed.

No control of the game

The complaints Rovers may have from this is the suspension of Glenn Whelan who was booked twice as well as the penalty.

Connor Taylor fouled Paul Lewis in the box for the spot-kick but it didn’t at first glance look like a penalty, but he awarded it.

Let’s look at the two cards. Both times Whelan was carded they were fouls but it was perhaps a harsh sending off. He had every right to go in for the ball and it didn’t feel like an endangering tackle.

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Add to that how the game got out of hand at times, the referee perhaps ruined what could have been a better spectacle, instead the game was played out to a scrappy end.

A few times in the first-half, Northampton forward Kion Etete went down slightly easily and perhaps a card for simulation could have been in the offing.

The game in which the game could have got out of hand is when Sam Hoskins was booked for a foul. A scuffle between the two sets of players resulted in Anderson getting booked.

Northampton were primed to make three substitutions but there was an uncertainty on who would be coming on which added more time to the clock.

A good collective performance

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At the moment it feels like Rovers are turning a corner and look like they could go on a run.

This was a good team performance with every player chipping in and making an effort.

Credit has to go to Alfie Kilgour, who statistically was the best rated defender according to FotMob, earning a rating of 8.0.

He was colossal in the air, winning most of his duels and was successful in each tackle he attempted.

Rovers had more shots and created more opportunities and were neater in their play, playing 18 more accurate passes than their opponents.

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