Full-time: Bristol Rovers 3 Burton Albion 0
Bristol Rovers got their survival bid firmly back on track after completing an impressive victory over promotion-chasing Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
Striker Ryan Brunt marked his return to the starting line-up with a goal that has offered John Ward’s side a deserving half-time lead before John-Joe O’Toole and Eliot Richards converted chances after the break to bring Burton’s recent four-game winning streak to an end.
Rovers, meanwhile, who had lost two of their last three games, served notice that the last week or so was no more than a minor blip by moving into 17th place in League Two – their highest position so far this season – and increasing the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to six points.
Brunt, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, took just five minutes to register what was his third goal since arriving from Stoke City in January when tapping in from close-range as Rovers started at high intensity before going on to dominate proceedings throughout the opening period.
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Tom Parkes was only prevented from doubling the advantage by the heroics of Burton goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson on two separate occasions, while John-Joe O’Toole also had a fierce shot from the edge of the box headed away when it looked certain to end up in the back of the net.
Burton rarely showed signs of a side that had scored 11 goals in their previous three games and failed to unduly trouble Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall at all for the duration.
O’Toole was on hand to double the advantage in the 61st minute when tapping in Oliver Norburn’s smart ball across the face of goal as Burton were caught napping at the second phase after initially clearing a corner.
Exciting youngster Ellis Harrison, who was making his first start at the Memorial Stadium, capped a fine individual display by setting Eliot Richards up to score a third goal from close-range in the 70th minute to complete the scoring.
The loss of Joe Anyinsah, who played an important part in the inception of the opening goal with a direct run and cross to set up the chance, to injury in the 25th minute, was the only concern for Ward on an otherwise positive afternoon for Rovers.
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown; Anyinsah (Norburn, 25), O’Toole, Woodards, Harrison (Paterson, 81); Richards, Brunt (Tounkara, 60). Subs: Gough, Virgo, McDonald, Hitchcock.
Burton Albion (4-4-2): Tomlinson, O’Connor, Holness, Sharps, McCrory; MacDonald, Weir (Dyer, 71) Bell, Magahoma (Phillips, 62); Kee (Zola, 62), Symes. Subs: Lyness, Corbett, Diamond, Paterson.