DARRELL’S LOVING LEAGUE 1
DARRELL CLARKE saw his Bristol Rovers team move up to ninth in League One and then claimed: “We should be even higher.”
The manager was delighted with a fully deserved win over high-riding Vale, achieved without the services of injured top scorer Matt Taylor.
A first-half header from Ellis Harrison and a second-half penalty from Jermaine Easter wrapped up the points after Martin Paterson had fired the visitors into a 23rd-minute lead.
Asked whether he felt Rovers had taken time to adapt to life in League One, Clarke responded: “No I don’t think that at all.
“Our performances since the start of the season have been good and, while 13 points is a decent return from nine games, I believe we should have more.
“We deserved to beat Southend and Walsall, while the Rochdale game could have gone either way.
“The lads have done well and no one could begrudge them the victory.
“Our front three created a lot of problems and then we switched to a 4-4-2 and gave Port Vale more to think about.
“We have never been a oneman team and when we have to do without Matt Taylor the other strikers are more than capable.
“If I have one complaint it is that we tried to waste time too early by taking the ball to the corners when we could have picked a pass and got the third goal.”
Clarke was also frustrated that, not for the first time, Rovers gave their opponents the advantage of scoring first.
Vale went in front on 23 minutes when a ricochet off Ollie Clarke gave Paterson space inside the box to drill a leftfooted shot past Kelle Roos.
Rovers had created the better openings to that point and levelled on 44 minutes when Lee Brown’s cross from the left to the far post was met by Harrison with a powerful header.
The decisive moment came on 63 minutes when Paulo Tavares needlessly brought down Rovers substitute Byron Moore when there was little apparent danger and Easter drilled a low spot-kick past Jak Alnwick.
The impressive Moore chipped against a post after that and Vale assistant-manager Andy Smith gave an honest assessment.
“There are no complaints from us,” he said.
“We went a goal up and looked in control of the game, but never showed the same intensity in the second half. “We only have ourselves to blame for the result. “In the second half Rovers played well and the better team won. “We might have had more goals in the first half, but you can’t switch off like we did. “For the first Rovers goal we have failed to track a runner and prevent a cross. It was good play by them, but very disappointing from our point of view.
“The penalty was right. There was no need to make that sort of challenge because their player wasn’t going to score. That’s what we need to look at.”
MATCH WINNER: Bristol Rovers’ Jermaine Easter celebrates his goal from the spot, inset
LET’S HUG: Ellis Harrison is smiling