CLARKE’S PRIDE AT FIGHTBACK
BRISTOL Rovers boss Darrell Clarke couldn’t hide his delight after his side highlighed their promotion credentials with a stunning win in the Severnside derby at Newport County.
Rovers were beaten 4-1 at home by near neighbours Newport in October and must have feared the worst when Alex Rodman fired in off a post from the edge of the area in only the second minute to give the hosts the lead.
But they were hauled back into the contest by a man who only found out he was playing minutes before kick-off.
Lee Mansell was named in the visitors’ starting XI but suffered a calf injury in the warm-up on the sand-covered surface at Rodney Parade.
Ollie Clarke was swiftly drafted in as a last-minute replacement and he didn’t waste his chance to impress.The midfielder was given too much time and space on the edge of the Newport area after 15 minutes and promptly found the top corner of Joe Day’s net with a stunning strike right in front of the 1,000 travelling fans.
And second-half goals from Cristian Montano, shooting through a forest of legs, Matty Taylor, capitalising on a defensive error to find the bottom corner, and Newport-born substitute Ellis Harrison, with a neat finish five minutes from time, completed the comeback and sealed a fifth straight win for Rovers.
“It’s an excellent three points and a really good, strong performance,” said boss Darrell Clarke.
“We had an early set back but the group responded terrifically. It was a great strike by Ollie, who I thought was outstanding on the day, but I thought the whole performance was strong on a very difficult surface.
“We stuck to our principles of trying to play football and we were clinical in front of goal.
“There’s a togetherness about us now and to win five games on the spin at any level is absolutely magnificent.
“But we won’t get carried away. We’ve got a tough Easter period now and we’ll keep going and trying to put pressure on the teams above us.”
Newport manager Warren Feeney knows his side should be safe from the drop after last week’s 3-0 win at Portsmouth, and he felt the margin of victory flattered the Pirates after an evenly contested first half.
“We are very disappointed with the manner of the goals we conceded,” he said.
“We got off to a very good start and I didn’t think there was much in the game.
“But the first goal we didn’t close the ball down, second goal was a set-play, the third goal was a hopeful ball into the box and the fourth goal is a mistake.
“I didn’t think there was much in the game but you can see why they are where they are in the table.
“It’s been a big month and the players have been fantastic. I hate getting beat but I’m not going to dwell on it because we’ve got every chance of getting a result at Northampton.”
WHAT A HIT: Matt Taylor of Bristol Rovers scores GIVE ME A HUG: Matt Taylor of Bristol Rovers celebrates with Cristian Montano