Full-time: Bristol Rovers 3 Chesterfield 2
Tom Eaves' late winner at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon has helped Bristol Rovers end a recent four-game losing streak.
Eaves powered home a deflected shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 80th minute to secure the narrowest of victories after an enthralling game which also saw Rovers goalkeeper Neil Etheridge gift Chesterfield a first-half equaliser – before recovering quickly to produce an inspired man-of-the-match performance with a number of vital saves.
Joe Anyinsah also scored his first goal in almost a year after returning to the squad following a two-game absence. Eaves had also played a massive part in the opening goal when his cross was diverted by Chesterfield midfielder Sam Togwell into his own net in the third minute.
Rovers, however, made hard work of their victory – Etheridge guilty of a rare blooper in the 21st minute to offer Chesterfield their first equaliser when in reality they looked in little if any danger when Mark Randall prepared to swing a free-kick into the area. Standing within touching distance of the touchline, however, Randall floated a high delivery in from all of 25 yards away and was probably as surprised as everybody else inside the ground when Etheridge leapt to claim the harmless delivery as it plummeted under his crossbar before landing behind the goal-line with the ball still in his hands.
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It was a poor error by the on-loan Fulham man, but it certainly didn't faze him; an excellent one-on-one save two minutes later denied Chesterfield and their striker Scott Boden an opportunity to take the lead. He then made an athletic save to palm Tendayi Darikwa's shot over the crossbar before making a double stop to deny Boden again as Chesterfield enjoyed the better of the opportunities, which some of their eye-pleasing football had probably deserved.
Etheridge's heroics continued after the break with a goal-denying save when Terrell Forbes tried to bundle the ball over the line in the ensuing melee following a corner. He then tipped Randall's attempted lob over the bar – before Anyinsah side-footed home an Eaves' cross to give Rovers the lead against the run of play in the 58th minute.
There was little Etheridge could do, however, about Brennan Dickinson's left-footed effort that flew high into the net just seconds after he came on as a substitute in the 65th minute.
The game looked to be heading for a draw prior to Eaves' late intervention, which helped Rovers secure their first victory since October 20.
Rovers (4-4-2): Etheridge; Lund, Kenneth, Parkes, Paterson; Broghammer, Clarkson, W Brown, Riordan; Eaves, Anyinsah. Subs: Walker, Smith, Woodards, Richards, L Brown, Clarke, Clucas.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): O'Donnell; Talbot, Hird, Forbes, Smith; Togwell, Clay; Darikwa, Randall, Whitaker; Boden. Subs: Westcarr, Lester, Ridehalgh, Atkinson, Mason, Evans, Dickenson.