First half display sees Rovers defeat Coventry

September 23, 2018

Gavin Reilly opened the scoring early doors with a composed finish, before Tom Lockyer headed home just ten minutes later.

Ollie Clarke completed the scoring, with Rovers’ third goal in thirteen minutes – guiding a delightfully struck effort into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Coventry pulled a goal back in the seconds before the break, as Dom Hyam broke free inside the Rovers area to head home from a set-piece – but Rovers protected the two-goal cushion to secure a first home league victory of the campaign.

In the build-up to the game, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke had the benefit of choosing Stuart Sinclair in the starting XI – as the midfielder made his first start in the league since March’s trip to Plymouth.

Michael Kelly was again deployed at left-back, as James Clarke was tasked with operating in the right-back berth.

As the frantic opening exchanges played out it was thanks to Jack Bonham that the scores remained level. The ‘keeper was on hand to push wide a fierce shot from Jordan Shipley and again tipped a header from Jordan Willis over the crossbar.

Despite the visitors’ fast start, Rovers struck first in the contest – a move that started with a long-ball forward causing a host of problems for the Coventry defence. The ball wound into the path of Reilly, with the striker breaking through on goal and keeping his composure to lift a finish out of the reach of Lee Burge for Reilly’s first goal in the blue and white quarters.

The goal lifted the crowd and that transferred onto the pitch as Rovers had an instant chance to double their advantage. A low cross from the left picked out Sinclair, but the midfielder saw his goalbound effort blocked on the line, with Burge beaten.

The second goal did arrive just prior to the twenty-minute mark. With a free-kick in a threatening position, Chris Lines flighted a well-weighted cross that flew into the path of Lockyer, with the defender making no mistake in guiding a close-range header past Burge for his second goal of the week and third of the season.

Lockyer’s strike was quickly followed by a third goal, which was the stand-out goal of the game. With the ball recycled by Lines, there was an opportunity for him to strike to goal from 20 yards, but Ollie Clarke stepped in and produced a beautifully struck right-footed shot into the top corner.

With the interval approaching, Coventry managed to pull a goal back as Dom Hyam rose to head home a set-piece at the far-post, with Rovers heading into the break with a two-goal cushion.

The minutes after the half-time were far less frantic than those at the start of the contest, but only because of a discipline and work rate that will have delighted the manager.

Following his goal at Wycombe, James Clarke had a rare view of goal on the hour mark, as the defender was played in by a clever pass from Reilly. The defender kept his cool as he advanced closer to goal and hit a driven attempt that was deflected at the near-post by a strong sliding block from Willis.

Just prior to his substitution, Stuart Sinclair had a chance to add a fourth goal. The midfielder navigated his way onto a loose pass engineered by pressure from substitute Stefan Payne in the final third and broke free towards goal – only for his shot to stopped by a desperate Burge.

In the final minutes, sub Alex Jakubiak had a chance to add to his goal on Tuesday evening, but a side-footed attempt from the forward was claimed down low by Burge.

Coventry rallied late on and had the ball in the net via Conor Chaplin, but he was offside. In the end, Rovers dealt with City’s threat with relative comfort and saw the game home to gain the first three points of the season at the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers: Jack Bonham, James Clarke, Tom Lockyer (C), Tony Craig, Michael Kelly, Chris Lines, Stuart Sinclair (82′ Sam Matthews), Kyle Bennett, Ollie Clarke, Tom Nichols (57′ Stefan Payne), Gavin Reilly (72′ Alex Jakubiak).

Substitutes: Adam Smith, Daniel Leadbitter, Ed Upson, Stefan Payne, Tom Broadbent, Alex Jakubiak, Sam Matthews 

Coventry City: Lee Burge, Dujon Sterling (45′ Jordan Thompson), Jordan Willis, Dom Hyam, Junior Brown, Liam Kelly, Michael Doyle, Jordan Shipley, Luke Thomas, Conor Chaplin, Jonson Clarke-Harris (84′ Amadou Bakayoko).

Substitutes: Liam O’Brien, Tom Davies, Jordan Thompson, Tony Andreu, Abu Ogogo, Jordy Hiwula, Amadou Bakayoko.

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