Poor day on the road for Town but game over shadowed by refereeing decisions
Bristol Rovers: Joe Lumley, Daniel Leadbitter, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer (c), Ollie Clarke (Stuart Sinclair 35), Chris Lines, Christian Montano (Byron Moore 70), Billy Bodin, Luke James, Rory Gaffney, Ryan Sweeney
Subs: Steve Mildenhall, Ellis Harrison, James Clarke, Jermaine Easter, Jake Clarke-Salter
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Joe Riley, Mat Sadler (c), Shaun Whalley (Stephen Payne 77), Louis Dodds (Bryn Morris 46), Junior Brown, Gary Deegan, Tyler Roberts (Stephen Humphrys 46), Ryan Yates
Subs: Mark Halstead, Dom Smith, Freddie Ladapo, Adam El-Abd,
Ref: Brett Huxtable
Assistants: Kevin Morris and Christopher Kidd
Fourth Official: Timothy Wood
Attendance: 9,498 (497 from Town)
Paul Hurst makes two changes from the side that started against Bolton Wanderers as he looks to revert to the more familiar 4-4-2 formation.
Rovers were quickly on the attack and looking to get a Town, a ball in behind saw Sadler slip and let James in but the Town skipper recovered well and calmly came across to nick the ball and clear the danger.
Leutwiler was the busier of the keepers in the opening exchanges and when Rovers pressure saw the ball drop in front of the Town goal Lockyer had a shot from 6 yards out but Leutwiler was equal to it with a superb point blank block and the ball was cleared.
Rovers were creating chances and when a corner was taken short it was played into space to set-up Lines, he fired in a decent shot that was goal bound but Leutwiler was there again with a strong save to deny Rovers.
At the other end Town were looking to break when they could and a ball in behind saw Roberts break into the box, he got in behind Lumley but the angle was tight so he laid it back top set-up Dodds, he fired in a low shot but a defender had covered back and was on the line to deny Town.
The first booking of the game went to Town, Rovers were looking to put pressure on the Town goal with Bodin, he was twisting and turning on the edge of the box and Yates slid in to tackle, ref Huxtable was close by and saw enough to give a free-kick and book Yates.
Town were looking good on the break and when Whalley picked the ball up he drove down field, Riley had gone on the overlap and Whalley played him in, Riley kept going for the byline and drove a good looking ball across but Lumley was down quickly to smoother before Roberts could pounce.
Town were down to 10 men with half-time approaching, the ball was in the Rovers box and Lumley was down to collect under pressure from Yates who was sliding in, the Rovers players reacted and Yates was clearly pushed to the ground, ref Huxtable was over to diffuse the situation then took his time and very harshly produced a second yellow card for Yates and sent him off, but did nothing for the push on Yates.
In the end it was a half that Rovers started well but Town grew as the half wore on but it would be remembered for the two very hard yellow cards for Yates and the controversial sending off by ref Huxtable.
Town started the second half with two changes that saw Stephen Humphrys and Bryn Morris coming on to replace Louis Dodds and Tyler Roberts, with it looking like a switch to a 4-4-1 with Humphrys as the loan front man.
It was going to be tough test for Town but they were looking to get forward when they could and when Rodman got the ball he drove forward, he got to the edge of the box and tried his luck but it took a deflection and Lumley collected.
Rovers got their noses in front and again there was controversy with a decision from the ref, the ball was in the box and Nsiala put a foot in to challenge with the Rovers player going to ground, ref Huxtable was on the spot and had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Billy Bodin stepped up and calmly drove the ball to Leutwiler's left to give the home side the lead.
Town were looking to get back on level terms and when the ball came to Deegan in the middle he found the space to drive forward, he then hit a good looking shot but Lumley was there pull off the save.
Town won a throw midway in the Rovers half, it was taken quickly to Brown who then played in Humphrys, he got it into space behind the Rovers defence for Rodman who got a smart shot in at the near port but again Lumley was there to save.
Whalley got the ball and came infield looking to get things going, he played passed to Rodman and Morris looking to get something, he then came infield and curled a shot in but it was wide of the target.
With 13 minutes remaining Paul Hurst made his final change with Stefan Payne coming on to replace Shaun Whalley.
Rovers were starting to get chances and when the ball came to Sinclair in the box he fired a low shot in but Leutwiler was down to save. Moments later though the home side grabbed a second, the ball was in the Town box and Riley let it drop, the visitors couldn't clear and Bodin found the space to drive the ball back across goal and low into the far corner.
Town were still creating and Riley and Morris combined well out on the right, Riley hit a good looking cross in that Humphrys got up well to head but it was just over the bar.