CLARKE’S REFUSING TO RELAX JUST YET
DARRELL Clarke brushed aside plaudits after a sixth successive win and insisted: “It’s too early to pop open the champagne.”
The Rovers boss is always one for keeping his feet on the ground.
And he maintained that mindset despite two goals from Billy Bodin and one from Matt Taylor proving enough to comfortably see off disappointing Cambridge and keep the Gas in the top three with eight games to play.
“I never relax until the end of the season,” said Clarke, hot favourite for the League Two manager of the month award for March.
“We have been on good runs before and things can easily turn the other way if you take your eye off the ball. We will keep working to improve and see where it takes us.
“It was a good performance. Cambridge came to have a real go at us and the difference in the first half was two quality finishes.
“We could never relax because it was end to end and Steve Mildenhall has made a fantastic save at 2-0, which was very important.
“Six wins on the bounce is a terrific effort by the lads. Billy Bodin has eight goals this season, as well as a number of assists, so all credit to him.
“Cristian Montano was outstanding and the players continue to give me everything.”
Rovers were ahead on nine minutes when Bodin took aim with his right foot from 30 yards and saw the low effort beat the dive of Will Norris, who might have done better.
The advantage was doubled on 18 minutes, Dan Leadbitter delivering a cross with pace from the left and Bodin netting with a flashing header at the near post.
Taylor completed the scoring on 73 minutes,cutting inside Josh Coulson to net his 22nd goal of the season.
An open first half saw plenty of action for both goalkeepers, Norris redeeming himself with saves from Ollie Clarke, Bodin, Rory Gaffney and Cristian Montano.
At the other end Steve Mildenhall blocked efforts from Jimmy Spencer and Luke Berry, while Spencer was narrowly wide on 42 minutes, shooting with the outside of his right foot from 20 yards.
Norris made the best save of the game on 59 minutes, tipping Taylor’s shot around a post after a great ball from former Cambridge player Gaffney.
But the visitors continued to create openings and Leon Legge powered a header wide from Zeli Ismail’s corner.
Mildenhall had to react smartly to keep out a close-range header from Coulson and with better finishing Cambridge would have run their opponents close.
For all that, U’s boss Shaun Derry said: “It was a sad afternoon for us. I am saddened by the performance because we talked about what we needed to do and never reached it.
“We were not clinical enough in attack and the goals we conceded were awful.
“Yet again it is the story of both boxes. We have to take our medicine, regroup and go again on Monday against Oxford.
“We had a shortage of players, but there are no excuses. I am now expecting an accumulation of better performances before we even start talking about the play-offs.”
STAR MAN BILLY BODIN
Rovers Bristol TAYLORMADE: Bristol Rovers’ Matt Taylor celebrates his goal that made it 3-0