Full-time: Bristol Rovers 2 Exeter City 0
Bristol Rovers continued their surge up the League Two table after goals from Oliver Norburn and Lee Brown secured an impressive victory over promotion-chasing Exeter City at the Memorial Stadium tonight.
John Ward’s side moved within touching distance of guaranteed safety by leapfrogging both Rochdale and Dagenham & Redbridge into 15th place – but Rovers certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Exeter City goalkeeper Artur Krysiak for the part he played in the goal that set Rovers on their way.
It came in the 23rd minute when Norburn collected the ball out on the right-hand side before letting fly with a speculative shot from distance that looked set to be collected quite comfortably by the Polish stopper.
Krysiak, however, somehow managed to fumble the ball and let it go through his legs before watching in horror as it crept over the line.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
He was taunted with chants of ‘dodgy keeper’ sporadically for the rest of the opening period – little surprise considering the goalkeeper also made a hash of trying to save an Eliot Richards shot earlier in the season at St James’ Park, which eventually turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-1 victory on that day.
Rovers had to wait until Brown flashed in another effort from well outside the penalty area in the 87th minute to be certain of what was a second successive victory – even if there were only glimpses of the attacking swagger seen in the demolition job executed over Burton on Saturday.
Rovers were more measured in their efforts to overcome an Exeter side that had won four of their last five games and boast one of the finest away records in League Two after winning 11 times on the road from their previous 17 games this season.
That Steve Mildenhall was rarely called into action is testament to how effective Rovers’ game plan was on a night where they kept another clean sheet and moved to within five points of that magical 50-point mark.
Norburn, meanwhile, was only in the side after Joe Anyinsah failed to shake off a hamstring complaint, but looked the player most likely to create some sort of opportunity in the opening exchanges due to some neat and incisive passing at close-quarters.
Chances, however, were few and far between during an opening 15 minutes in which there were more yellow cards, one each for Michael Smith and Kevin Amankwaah, than shots.
Rovers did enjoy the best part of the territorial advantage, though, and the first opportunity did come soon after when Tom Parkes was only denied a goal because Amankwaah was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line.
The opening goal did eventually come – in the 23rd minute – as Norburn profited from Krysiak’s moment of madness following dogged work from John-Joe O’Toole to win the ball on the halfway line before beginning the successful passage of play.
Exeter did perk up towards the end of the opening period, but Rovers stood firm and almost doubled their advantage when the ball dropped kindly for Parkes at another corner. The Rovers skipper, though, scuffed his effort wide.
Tisdale had seen enough and made a double change at the start of the second-half by bringing on exciting youngster Jake Gosling and former Bristol City man Jimmy Keohane and switching to the 4-5-1 formation that had served them so well on the road throughout the season so far.
It was Rovers, however, that went closest to scoring soon after when Krysiak needed fingertips to keep Ryan Brunt’s spectacular overhead kick out of his goal.
Exeter then went on to enjoy their first real period of possession for the next ten minutes or so – but all they had to show for their efforts were wayward attempts off the boots of Jamie Cureton and Jimmy Keohane.
Midfielder Scott Bennett went a little closer when turning a Craig Woodman free-kick goalwards in the 69th minute. Richards went up the other end seconds later and forced Krysiak into a save low down to his right to keep out another speculative attempt from all of 25 yards.
Tisdale took his last throw of the dice when bringing on an extra forward in the shape of Guillem Bauza for the final qurter-of-an-hour, but the Spaniard’s arrival failed to have the desired effect before Brown ended Rovers’ night in style.
Rovers (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown; Norburn, Woodards (McDonald, 21) O’Toole, Harrison (Broghammer, 71); Richards (Hitchcock, 88) Brunt. Subs: Gough, Paterson, Lockyer, Tounkara.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Krysiak; Amankwaah (Bauza, 75), Coles, Baldwin, Woodman; Oakley, Doherty (Gosling, 46) Bennett, Davies; O’Flynn (Keohane, 46) Cureton. Subs: Evans, Tully, Bauza, Dawson, Moore-Taylor.