Bristol Rovers 3 Crawley 0: Reds fall to three set-pieces

Crawley Town V Bristol Rovers (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151121-221652008
Crawley Town V Bristol Rovers (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151121-221652008

Three second half goals from set-pieces cost Reds defeat at promotion-chasing Bristol Rovers.

Rovers’ top scorer Matt Taylor nodded in two headed goals from corners.

Sandwiched in-between, Liam Lawrence curled in a brilliantly taken free-kick into the top right hand corner which gave Callum Preston no chance.

Mark Yates made five changes to the side which lost to Exeter City on Monday with Matt Harrold and Roarie Deacon returning to the starting line-up and playing up front.

There were returns for Lyle Della-Verde and Lewis Young while Josh Yorwerth came back from international duty with Wales Under-21s.

Simon Walton, Shamir Fenelon and Jon Ashton were all on the bench, Liam McAlinden was inujured while Gavin Tomlin did not make the squad.

On a beautiful day at the Memorial Ground, Reds played in front of a packed 8,250 gate which generated a great atmosphere.

Reds went into half-time still on level terms at 0-0 with Callum Preston, who held his place in goal, not having to make a serious save.

Crawley’s defence held firm against Bristol’s dominant possession which did not create much in the way of clear-cut chances.

Rovers took the game to Crawley as Billy Bodin found some space outside the area and struck a shot narrowly wide.

Lee Brown then sliced another effort wide on the overlap from the left.

Crawley created little themselves in the first half, their best chances being a shot by Matt Harrold, who was returning to his old club, going wide from a difficult angle after Deacon’s initial shot was blocked.

Dalla-Verde’s corner was headed upwards by a defender and forced home keeper Steve Mildenhall to tip over the bar.

Yorwerth made a crucial challenge to keep Rory Gagffney at bay after he was put through by Tom Lockyer at keep it at 0-0 at half-time.

Crawley made a great start to the second half, creating two early chances to score.

Deacon’s cross was cleared for a corner, from which Dalla-Verde found Sonny Bradley in the box whose shot was comfortably saved by Mildenhall.

Almost immediately play switched to the opposite end of the field as the Pirates scored their first goal, Lawrence’s 52nd minute corner-kick was swung into the far post for Taylor to head home.

Fenelon was Crawley’s first substitution to come on, replacing Harrold after 65 minutes who walked off the field to rapturous applause from the home fans, in appreciation of their former player who spent three years at the Memorial Ground.

Fenelon was booked for simulation when he went down in the penalty area and Frankie Sutherland was booked for a foul on Leadbitter, which like most events of the match, provoked a passionate response from the home crowd.

Crawley threatened on the break-away as Young raced up the left flank and crossed, only for a Rovers defender to get to the ball before Gwion Edwards could connect.

The crowd were roused again when Rovers struck again from a brilliantly-taken free-kick by Lawrence in the 76th minute which he curled into the top corner of the net.

The second goal, combined with the noisy support of the home army, effectively ended Reds’ hopes of picking up anything from the game.

Preston made a great diving save to deny substitute Cristian Montano’s powerful strike.

Bristol rubbed salt into their wounds three minutes later when Taylor headed in Lawence’s corner kick in a repeat of their first goal, which was his 25th goal of the season.

REDS: Preston, Bradley, Edwards, Young, Harrold (Barnard 83), Deacon (Fenelon 65), Bond, Sutherland (Walton 76), Yorwerth, Della-Verde, Dunne

Unused subs: Rose, McNerney, Ashton, Bawling

BRISTOL ROVERS: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer, McChrystal, O.Clarke, Taylor (Easter 84), Lines, Lawrence (Montano 77), Bodin, Gaffney (McBurnie 82)

Unused subs: Puddy, Parkes, Harrison, J Clarke.

REFEREE: Fred Graham

ATTENDANCE: 8,250 (99 away)

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