EASTER TIME COMES EARLY FOR ROVERS
Darrell Clarke reckons League Two is about to see the best of journeyman striker Jermaine Easter.
The former Wales international has been plagued by injuries since joining Rovers last January and has been gradually building match fitness after missing much of the build-up to the new campaign.
But after seeing Easter hit a post and then net the second goal in a convincing win over the club who pipped his side to the Conference title last season, manager Clarke was understandably delighted.
He said: “I knew what I was getting when I signed Jermaine. The other players look up to him and there has never been any doubt about his ability.
“He has had his problems since signing for us, but now he is off the mark for the season, which is good for the confidence of any striker, I’m sure we will see the best of him.
“We have had a great week, with nine points from three games. The performance wasn’t outstanding and there was a heated discussion in the dressing room at half time.
“Losing Dan Leadbitter with a hamstring injury in the first half meant we had to reorganise. But we are adaptable as a side because the players are prepared to listen.
“The first goal was something we worked on in training and when they come off it is always satisfying.
“Barnet played their part in an entertaining game and I hope our fans went home happy.” Rovers were ahead inside three minutes when Chris Lines played a right-wing corner into the path of Lee Brown 30 yards from goal and the wing-back’s low drive flew through a crowded box to beat Graham Stack.
Easter made it 2-0 on 77 minutes. Having struck the woodwork earlier in the second half, he fired confidently home after a Matt Taylor effort had been blocked. Skipper Curtis Weston gave Barnet hope on 85 minutes with a close-range finish after being put through by Sam Muggleton deflecting a shot into his path.
It was a rare moment to cheer for visiting fans though and substitute Taylor clinched the points moments later with a low shot from ten yards after being set up by Lines.
Rovers had dominated possession in the first half, but Barnet went close too.
Bondz N’Gala was just wide with a header a quarter of an hour in and John Akinde’s 40th-minute shot was saved by the outstretched leg of Rovers keeper Aaron Chapman.
In the second half the visitors might have levelled just before Easter’s goal: Bira Dembele producing an air shot with the goal at his mercy.
Barnet boss Martin Allen had few complaints.
“Rovers thoroughly deserved to win and were the best side we have played so far this season,” he said.
“I felt we might have had a penalty when a shot was blocked by one of their players.
“The referee told me the ball has struck an arm, but didn’t feel it was worthy of a spot kick.
“We were a bit down on previous displays and I have to take responsibility for that. Perhaps I should have made more changes.
“Most coaches would be happy to see a corner played back to a player 30 yards from goal. But it was a good strike so fair play to Rovers for that one.
“My lads never give up and it was just a shame we conceded so quickly after getting the score back to 2-1.
“But we had setbacks last season and will again dust ourselves down and go again.”
OPENER: Lee Brown scores the first goal for Bristol Rovers
STAR MAN STUAR