Taylor substitution the catalyst for second half comeback that puts Rovers two points off playoffs.

Rovers’ boss Darrell Clarke praised his “special group” of players. Image by Wikimedia Commons.
Rovers’ boss Darrell Clarke praised his “special group” of players. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

Bristol Rovers bounced back from their defeat last week in phenomenal style as they took three points with a late rally from Cambridge.

Darrell Clarke’s side had previously been trashed 4-1 by Newport County but bounced back to record the most away wins of any Rovers outfit since the side that took what was once knowsn as Division Three in 1990.

Three changes were made from last Saturday’s defeat, with Daniel Leadbitter and Matty Taylor dropping to the bench and club captain Mark McChrystal put back into the side following his recovery from an ankle injury.

Presumably there had been plenty of recrimination through the week judged by how Rovers started and only the linesman’s flag prevented Jermaine Easter from having the chance to make it 1-0 with just five minutes gone.

The hosts responded by sending Barry Corr through on goal as he chased a long ball, with referee Brendan Malone deciding not to award a penalty after he went down. This led to a period of relative stalemating for the next half hour and with the next chance for either side, Cambridge took the lead. Harrison Dunk worked himself into space on the left side and his cross was met by Corr, who scored for the eight time this season to give the hosts the lead at halftime.

This bought out the best in the visitors, who threated to quite literally give the hosts a taste of their own medicine with a goal that would have been a carbon copy of the opener expect for the visitors. Lee Brown’s fine cross was well directed by Ellis Harrison towards goal but with Chris Dunne seemingly beaten, the crossbar was just a tad too low and his effort clipped the top. Billy Bodin was set free in the penalty area by some slick moves on the right and his cross was pointed towards goal smartly by Jermaine Easter although goalkeeper Chris Dunne managed to smother any danger.

It had not been Easter’s finest day and Clarke’s decision to replace him with Matty Taylor was instantly validated when the substitute picked up the ball from well outside the penalty area before leaving Mark Roberts rooted to the spot with a shoulder drop and firing a good effort at Dunne. He kept it out but could do nothing more than put it straight back into the path of Ellis Harrison who made no mistake and put the sides level.

The hosts had the majority of the ball as they pressed for a late winner, but nerves were creeping and there was to be a late twist, Greg Taylor’s attempted back pass falling to Matty Taylor who would round off the prefect gamechanging performance. Indeed, only the fingertips of Dunne prevented him from getting a third as Rovers took all three points from the Memorial Stadium, lifting them to ninth place in the table and sitting just two points off the playoffs.

Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Nicholls; J Clarke, Lockyer, McChrystal, Brown; Bodin, Mansell, Sinclair, Gosling; Harrison, Easter (Taylor, 62). Subs not used: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, O Clarke, Parkes, Lines, Montano.

Cambridge United (4-4-2): Dunn, Taylor, Roberts, Sesay, Dunk, Donaldson (Newton, 85), J.Hughes, L.Hughes (Demetriou, 68), Berry, Simpson (Gaffney, 68) Corr. Subs: Beasant, Omozusi, Slew, Coulson.

Referee: Brendan Malone

Attendance: 5,115 (562)

By William Kedjanyi