DERBY DAY IS A NERVE SHREDDER
DARRELL Clarke reflected on a full-blooded West Country derby and claimed: “Much more of that and they can start measuring me for my coffin!”
The Bristol Rovers boss was referring to his team’s failure to kill off League One’s bottom club Plymouth after they had been reduced to ten men by Gary Miller’s 64th-minute sending-off.
“We deserved the win, but it wasn’t good for my heart-rate,” said Clarke. “We have to be more clinical than that when we are dominating games.
“There were numerous chances to put the game to bed and then Plymouth have a great opportunity to score themselves right at the end.
“When you are only one goal up, that can happen. We need to be better at finishing off opponents.
“What pleased me most was the way my players responded to conceding a sloppy goal.
“They raised their game again and showed some character.
“While I would have liked a few more points by now, this is a very tough division.”
Rory Gaffney fired Rovers in front from Ellis Harrison’s 22ndminute cross, capitalising on yards of space to shoot low past Kyle Letheren from 12 yards.
But Argyle equalised on 52 minutes when former Rovers striker Nathan Blissett sent a right-footed shot from an angle into the top corner via the fingertips of Rovers keeper Sam Slocombe.
The winner on 62 minutes was another quality finish, Billy Bodin netting his eighth goal of the season with a rasping first-time drive from Gaffney’s cross.
Plymouth’s hopes nose-dived when Miller, having made a good challenge on Harrison, stretched into a second tackle and was shown a straight red card for a foul on Joe Partington.
Rovers dominated from then on, with substitute Tom Nichols hitting a post and the busy Letheren making a fine save from Liam Sercombe, who also found the net only to be denied by an offside flag against Nichols.
But Argyle should have levelled at the end when Antoni Sarcevic shot wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Miller’s dismissal was Argyle’s fifth of the season and manager Derek Adams admitted it wrecked his team’s chances. “We cannot go on trying to win with ten men,” he said. “I thought the red card was harsh because from where I was standing, it looked as though Gary got the ball. “We started the second half really well and looked to be getting on top. “Then Rovers scored again and the sending-off quickly followed. That was probably game over. “Injuries and suspensions have hit us hard and everyone is working flat out to turn things around.”
UP AND RUNNING: Rory Gaffney salutes his opening goal for Bristol Rovers
UP WE GO: Nathan Blissett gets airborne for Plymouth
STAR MAN LIAM SERCOMBE Bristol Rovers