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Rovers 4 Bristol Rovers 1

26 March 2019

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Rovers ran riot at the Keepmoat Stadium as a they stormed back in to the Sky Bet League One play-off places with an emphatic victory over Bristol Rovers.

If Rovers had been hoping to make a statement after defeat on Saturday, they made one with goals from James Coppinger (2), Mallik Wilks, and Kieran Sadlier rounding off a fantastic evening for the home side.

Bristol Rovers' consolation, scored by Jonson Clarke-Harris, came from the penalty spot just after the hour mark.

Graham Coughlan made three changes to his team that drew away at Plymouth Argyle on the weekend. Tom Lockyer, Gavin Reilly and Alex Jakubiak came in to the side in place of Alfie Kilgour, Liam Sercombe, and Tom Nichols.

Grant McCann made just one change to the Rovers side that suffered a heavy defeat away at Luton Town. Aaron Lewis dropped to the bench as Rovers had a change of formation. Matty Blair slotted into right back with Sadlier lining up on the left wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

A change does you good as they say, and Rovers got off to a blistering start in front of their home fans. Wilks very nearly nodded in from Sadlier's cross in the opening minute and it would be just three minutes before Rovers registered their first goal of the evening. James Coppinger received the ball in the box and hit a shot on the turn, it went directly at Bristol Rovers' Jack Bonham, but the ball somehow wriggled under the keeper and found the back of the net.

Less than five minutes later, Coppinger – relishing his new number 10 role – was at it again. The midfielder was given time and space 25-yards-out and took the opportunity to shoot, he hit a low drive into the far corner just beyond the outstretched fingertips of Bonham who had made a full-length dive to his right.

Rovers continued their dominance. Good link up play between Sadlier, Coppinger and Marquis led to the No.9 playing an inviting ball across the face of Bonham's goal which only needed a touch to take it in.

Sadlier and Wilks were both getting plenty of joy in their wide positions and the Leeds-loanee also saw an effort go close as he used his pace to get beyond the Bristol defence and shot towards the near-post, a touch from the Gas 'keeper just kept it out.

Wilks was on the scoresheet just after the half-hour mark. Rovers launched the ball forward as they cleared from defence and Wilks held off his man, pulled the ball back onto his left foot and hit a wonderful strike to bag his 14th goal of the season.

Marko Marosi made his first save just after the half-hour mark catching comfortably from a Jonson Clarke-Harris header before Sadlier had two attempted-volleys which narrowly missed their mark as Rovers continued to exert their dominance.

The visitors' best chance of the half came as Gavin Reilly's clever run took him inside Danny Andrew with only the keeper to beat. Reilly attempted to go across Marosi but the shot-stopper got down well and made a big save with his right arm.

Marosi was called upon again soon after as the Gas won a free-kick in a dangerous area, the free-kick was knocked-down by Clarke-Harris into the path of Tom Lockyer but Marosi did enough to stop the visitors from getting one back before the break.

No changes for either team at half-time and Rovers got off the mark more quickly than they had in the first half. There was barely a minute on the clock when Sadlier fired a thunderbolt effort into the top corner giving Bonham no chance and providing Rovers with a comfortable four goal lead.

Buoyed by his goal, Sadlier grew in confidence and was involved again when he hit a fantastic cross which found Marquis unmarked at the far post. The striker connected but could not find the target.

The early goal took the sting out of most of the visitors' revival hopes and Rovers began to play the ball around with confidence and class without needing to create chances. Sadlier had a half-chance picking the ball up in a similar area to where he had scored from and - urged to shoot by the crowd - he let fly with an effort that was just wide.

Bristol Rovers had their first chance of the second half just after the hour mark, Jakubiak tried to catch Marosi out by taking a shot quickly towards the near post, Marosi got down well to prevent the goal.

The visitors did get a their goal moments later when Clarke-Harris converted from 12 yards after Matty Blair was adjudged to have fouled James Clarke in the penalty box.

The goal revitalised the visitors and Marosi was called upon to palm away a ferocious strike from Clarke-Harris. This began ten minutes of pressure from the Gas which almost saw Andy Butler put the ball in his own net but Rovers stood firm and were able to see the game out.

Rovers did put the ball in the net for a final time as some quick passing play between Sadlier and substitute Alfie May meant Marquis could tap into an empty net but the assistant referee's flag was up.

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