Full-time: Fleetwood 0 Bristol Rovers 3
Bristol Rovers produced their best performance of the season to secure a surprise victory at promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town this afternoon.
First-half goals from Danny Woodards and Eliot Richards put John Ward's relegation-threatened side well on the way before John-Joe O'Toole's rattled a blistering 50th-minute effort in off a post to seal deserved and comprehensive victory at Highbury.
This success tasted all-the-more sweet for a manager that had been hit by a succession of injuries to further weaken an already threadbare squad before kick-off.
A youthful looking side, including debutant Ellis Harrison, triumphed in the face of that adversity to produce a superb team-display that deserved to lift Rovers off the foot-of-the-table – even if freak results elsewhere meant that it didn't.
17th Edition 8 way fuse boards prevent fires & improve electrical safety. Save £28 on 8 way fuse boards for a limited time only with A & D Electrical.
Terms: Bristol and Bath areas.
Contact: 0117 2448240
Valid until: Monday, May 20 2013
Harrison, in fact, was the creator of the opening gambit after only four minutes when his tricky run and final cross to the far post was volleyed in by Woodards to offer reward for a bright start, which had also seen midfielder Seanan Clucas only denied a goal from distance by the outstretched paw of goalkeeper Scott Davies.
Rovers continued to dominate the early exchanges and could have been further ahead in the 23rd minute, but Harrison was the victim of O'Toole's heavy pass, which made what would have been an otherwise good opportunity inside the penalty area too difficult to convert.
That missed opportunity was quickly forgotten, however, when Richards ghosted into the box to fire low past Davies after being the recipient of a smart piece of play by strike partner Tom Hitchcock to carve out the opening.
In between, Fleetwood, who had been made to look distinctly average by Rovers and their lung-busting display, missed their first opportunity of the opening period when midfielder Alex Marrow fired wildly over the crossbar after the ball had fell kindly for him following a cross into the penalty area.
Steve Mildenhall also had to pull off a fine save to repel a Junior Brown effort before Hitchcock directed a header against the crossbar in the 43rd minute.
O'Toole, however, made certain that three much-needed points would be claimed when slicing across the ball from the edge of the penalty area; an effort which evaded the despairing dive of Davies and flew in off the post. The midfielder was booked for an excessive celebration after fraternising with a jubilant travelling contingent - on days like these, however, who cares?
Rovers, in fact, could and probably should have stretched their margin of victory, but chances for Richards and Hitchcock, who probably deserved a goal in reward for an excellent individual display, went begging before the referee finally put Fleetwood out of their misery by bringing an end to proceedings.
Rovers (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown; Woodards, O'Toole, Clucas, Harrison; Hitchcock, Richards. Subs: Norburn, Harding, Gough, Lockyer, Santos.
Fleetwood (4-4-2): Davies; Beeley, Goodall, Atkinson, Howell; Evans, Barry, Marrow; Matt, Ball. Subs: McNulty, Pond, Maxwell, Titchiner, McGuire, Johnson, Allen.