Match Details: 16/04/2016
Bristol Rovers 2-1 Yeovil Town
Skybet League Two
Yeovil Goals: Leroy Lita (73)
Yeovil Line-Up: 1. Artur Krysiak, 3. Nathan Smith, 4. Matthew Dolan, 6. Jakub Sokolík, 11. Ryan Dickson, 14. Jack Compton, 19. Brandon Goodship, 24. Connor Roberts, 25. Liam Walsh, 32. Liam Shephard, 39. Francois Zoko
Subs: 2. Ben Tozer, 8. Marc Laird, 9. Ryan Bird, 12. Chris Weale, 16. Tahvon Campbell, 21. Alex Lacey, 38. Leroy Lita,
Substitutes Used: Leroy Lita for Brandon Goodship (58 mins), Ryan Bird for Jack Compton (58 mins), Marc Laird for Matthew Dolan (78 mins)
Bookings: Leroy Lita (Ungentlemanly Conduct, 74), Marc Laird (Foul, 90)
Yeovil Town's League Two safety was guaranteed this afternoon, despite suffering a 2-1 defeat against local rivals Bristol Rovers. In a battling end-to-end contest, Rory Gaffney gave the home side the lead when he got a free header inside the box from a free kick just before the box. However, a second half substitution saw former Bristol City striker Leroy Lita introduced and he was to have a clear impact on the game as he scored his first goal for the club, latching onto a Ryan Dickson pass. That leveller only lasted four minutes though, as Matty Taylor scored his 26th goal of the season to put the Gas back in front. At the final whistle though, both sides were happy, with themselves regaining their automatic promotion slot, whilst defeats for York City and Dagenham and Redbridge meant that the latter were relegated whilst the Minstermen cannot catch the Glovers - League Two football for 2016-17 is now mathematically guaranteed.
The Glovers went into the match making three changes to their starting line-up. Matt Dolan was brought back in midfield for Ben Tozer, whilst in the two wide attacking positions, Jack Compton and Brandon Goodship were brought back in with Kevin Dawson and Tahvon Campbell dropping out. Harry Cornick became the club's 'sixth loanee' as Football League rules force him to take his weekend off. In the Rovers line-up, Steve Mildenhall came up against his old club between the sticks whilst former loanee Tom Parkes sat on the bench.
Early chances in the match fell to Rovers, with Cristian Montano having a shot deflected off the legs of Nathan Smith for a corner, whilst Rory Gaffney's neat turn and shot saw Artur Krysiak save well. Ten minutes in and top goalscorer Matty Taylor hit the outside of the post - he probably should have done better after the ball had been half saved by Krysiak, before it fell into his path just eight yards out. Somehow he managed to not score. At the other end, Yeovil's recent problem has been that of turning good passing and approach play into killer crosses and clinical finishing. Their main early effort came via Brandon Goodship - back in the side after acting as the 'sixth loanee' last weekend - as he just about cleared the crossbar with Yeovil's first shot of the day.
Overall though, it was the home side on top - Rory Gaffney won a long ball up field and flicked it into the path of Matt Taylor who shot wide. Then Artur Krysiak's reflexes were firmly put to the test as he had to push away a Gaffney header from close range, palming it out for a corner. Yeovil did finally begin to get a foothold in the match, as a Matt Dolan effort from just outside the box caused Steve Mildenhall a few problems as it bobbled nastily off the turf, with Mildy needing to grab it at the second attempt. Then the former Glover spilt again, with a Jack Compton shot having to be hacked away for a corner by a Rovers defender after that attempt was only parried.
With three minutes to go before the break though, Bristol Rovers took the lead, and on the balance of play they probably deserved it. Liam Walsh fouled Billy Bodin outside the box, and when the Rovers attacking midfielder put the ball into the box, Rory Gaffney was able to evade his marker and power home a header for a 1-0 lead - the third time Gaffney has scored against Yeovil this season, having netted twice for Cambridge United at Huish Park earlier in the campaign. That was enough to divide the two sides at the break.
The question mark over the the second period was whether the Glovers could start creating chances in the final third, now they were a goal down. The answer, as far as the opening fifteen minutes was concerned was a big fat no. It wasn't that Rovers were dominating - just that the front three Yeovil players that had been selected - like many in recent weeks - just were not finding each other or getting in good positions. On the hour mark, Darren Way rang the changes, and it was the two wide forwards who were sacrificed, with Ryan Bird and Leroy Lita coming on, displacing Jack Compton and Brandon Goodship. That change meant that Bird played down the middle with Lita and Francois Zoko taking the wide slots.
Gradually, that new-look front three began to worry the Rovers defence a bit more, with Leroy Lita heading over the bar, and then the same player putting in a shot that Steve Mildenhall had to parry for a corner. Third time lucky, and Lita struck the equaliser though. Ryan Dickson provided the ball that set the striker on the break, and this time he fired the ball low and hard across the face of Mildenhall and into the back of the net. Having been booed by Rovers fans for his former Bristol City associations, Lita was more than happy to emphatically celebrate - taking his shirt off and running towards the large 900-plus travelling contingent in the side terrace.
Sadly, that goal didn't keep Yeovil level for long. Rovers made their own substition after that equaliser, and with the experience of Jermaine Easter on the pitch, the substitute was able to guide a cross into the path of Matty Taylor, who this time from close range didn't miss - his 26th goal of the season, and strong evidence of the sort of player Yeovil need to find if they are to turn themselves from the team they currently are into a side that can nick crucial goals when they are most needed. 2-1 and the Memorial Stadium, which had been silenced for four minutes, was now back in full voice.
During the closing stages of this open game, both sides could easily have scored. Rory Gaffney put wide from a Jermaine Easter through ball, then Mildenhall had to block at the feet of Ryan Bird from a narrow angle to stop him finding an equaliser. Then in second half injury time, a Marc Laird header from a fine angle looped over Mildenhall and struck the crossbar - the last chance in a game in which both sides played their part. In the end, both teams were relatively happy. Rovers stepped up into a third place slot via the three points they gained, whilst defeats for York City and Dagenham and Redbridge meant that even a 2-1 defeat against your local rivals could end up being cheery news to drive home to. It may not have been the result fans wanted, but in terms of the League Table, and where the club stood at the start of December 2015, it was everything that they wanted.
Link: 2015-16 Latest League Two Table.
Final Score: Bristol Rovers 2 Yeovil Town 1.
Scorers: Rory Gaffney (42 mins, 1-0), Leroy Lita (73 mins, 1-1), Matty Taylor (77 mins, 2-1)
1. Steve Mildenhall
2. Daniel Leadbitter 4. Tom Lockyer 5. Mark McChrystal 3. Lee Brown
23. Billy Bodin 8. Ollie Clarke 14. Chris Lines 21. Cristian Montano
10. Matty Taylor 30. Rory Gaffney
6. Tom Parkes 7. Lee Mansell 9. Ellis Harrison (80 mins for Matty Taylor) 16. Liam Lawrence 17. Jermaine Easter (76 mins for Cristian Montano) 25. Will Puddy 29. Oliver McBurnie (88 mins for Rory Gaffney)
1. Artur Krysiak
24. Connor Roberts 6. Jakub Sokolik 3. Nathan Smith 11. Ryan Dickson (Capt)
32. Liam Shephard 4. Matt Dolan 25. Liam Walsh
14. Jack Compton 39. Francois Zoko 19. Brandon Goodship
12. Chris Weale (GK) 2. Ben Tozer 8. Marc Laird (78 mins for Matt Dolan) 9. Ryan Bird (58 mins for Jack Compton) 16. Tahvon Campbell 21. Alex Lacey 38. Leroy Lita (58 mins for Brandon Goodship)
Bristol Rovers Bookings: Oliver McBurnie (delaying a free kick, 90 mins)
Yeovil Bookings: Leroy Lita (excessive celebration, 74 mins), Marc Laird (foul, 90 mins)
Bristol Rovers Match Statistics: Possession: 46%; Shots: 15; Shots On Target: 7; Corners: 6; Fouls: 8.
Yeovil Match Statistics: Possession: 54%; Shots: 9; Shots On Target: 6; Corners: 3; Fouls: 11.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire). Assistants: Neil Radford (Worcestershire) and Michael D'aguilar (Staffordshire). Fourth Official: Wayne Barratt (Worcestershire).
Attendance: 10,264 (with 926 Yeovil supporters).