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MATCH REPORT: Bristol Rovers 1-3 Swindon Town

Reds Come Out On Top On Derby Day

2 October 2021

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Swindon Town produced an incredible away display to beat Bristol Rovers 3-1 in a memorable local derby at The Memorial Stadium this afternoon.

It wasn't an ideal start to proceedings for the Reds as Harry Anderson's neat finish gifted the hosts an early lead, and that strike proved the difference at the break despite plenty of pressure from the visitors who were much the better team.

Town's pressure finally told just shy of the hour mark thanks to Jack Payne's fourth goal of the season, which tied things up, and they continued to hammer home their dominance from that point on.

Ben Gladwin stepped up and converted a superbly-taken penalty, before Harry McKirdy came off the bench to smash home his second goal of the season and wrap up what was a richly-deserved victory for the Reds.

Town Head Coach Ben Garner opted to name an unchanged Starting XI for today's local derby, although he was able to name Jonny Williams amongst the subs after the Welsh International recovered from concussion.

It was a quiet start to the game as both teams attempted to feel the other out, and it took a while for the first chance of the game to arrive.

When it did, it went the way of Town as a short corner played havoc in the Rovers box with Jack Payne's blocked shot falling to Romoney Crichlow, who saw his effort deflected wide.

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Alex Gilbert couldn't connect with a strike as the Reds caused problems with another corner, and that missed opportunity would come back to haunt them moments later.

A pinpoint through ball split the Swindon backline in two as Harry Anderson raced through on goal before sending a low finish into the bottom corner to give Rovers an early lead just past the 15-minute mark.

Town did look to muster up a quick response as Payne managed to fire a shot on goal through traffic, but his effort was smothered by Rovers 'Keeper James Belshaw. 

It was proving to be a scrappy affair, as most local derby's are, but the Reds were keeping the ball well and were having plenty of possession inside the final-third.

Tyreece Simpson did well to hold off a challenge before spinning his man and getting a shot away, although his effort was high and wide.

Town were the better team and were causing plenty of problems with Payne's fizzing cross just evading a gold shirt, before Gilbert was put through on goal but, under intense pressure from a Rovers defender, his shot was blocked by the onrushing Belshaw.

Dion Conroy's great ball across goal just evaded everyone, and it was Rovers who boasted a slender lead at the break despite the fact that Town had dominated large parts of the first 45 minutes and created plenty.

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The second-half continued with a similar pattern to the first as Town began play on the front-foot, with Ellis Iandolo's cheeky back-heel from a corner being saved by Belshaw.

Swindon then made their first change of the game with 55 minutes played as Harry McKirdy replaced Gilbert, and the introduction of fresh legs paid off instantly.

After the Gas failed to deal with a McKirdy cross, Payne reacted quickest before firing a shot from a tight angle through the legs of Belshaw to restore parity as Town's pressure finally paid off. 

With the game becoming scrappy as it entered the final 20 minutes, Town made another change with Jayden Mitchell-Lawson replaced Simpson to face his former team.

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Rovers carved out a great chance as Luca Hoole connected with Paul Coutts' cross but his header was well saved by Wollacott, before Jonny Williams replaced Payne in what was Town's final change of the game.

Those added fresh legs made a difference as Swindon continued to press and probe, before eventually getting their just rewards.

The dam began to crack when Crichlow flicked on a header into the path of the excellent Gladwin, who forced a superb save from Belshaw with a pinpoint header.

Gladwin would have the last laugh moments later, though, as after Alfie Kilgour was shown a second yellow for handball, the midfielder stepped up and hammered home the perfect penalty to give Town the lead.

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And the Reds put their foot down on the throat of Rovers late on, killing off the game thanks to McKirdy who was excellent off the bench, with the attacker smashing home a dropped cross by Belshaw to spark sheer jubilation in the away end.

It was plain sailing the rest of the way for Town who saw the game out with ease, and it was a massive three points for the Reds.



BRISTOL ROVERS - Belshaw; Kilgour, Finley, Coutts (C), Taylor (Luca Hoole 68), Anderson, Evans (Harvey Saunders 62), Harries, Whelan (Aaron Collins 62), Brown, Pitman (Zain Westbrooke 77).

SUBS NOT USED - Ward, Anderton, Spence.

SCORERS - Harry Anderson (16).

BOOKED - Paul Coutts, Alfie Kilgour (2), Harry Anderson.

SENT-OFF - Alfie Kilgour.

SWINDON TOWN - Wollacott; Odimayo, Iandolo (Rob Hunt 88), Conroy (C), Crichlow, Gladwin, Simpson (Jayden Mitchell-Lawson 70), Payne (Jonny Williams 74), Gilbert (Harry McKirdy 55), Kesler-Hayden, Reed.

SUBS NOT USED - Ward, Reed, East.

SCORERS - Jack Payne (57), Ben Gladwin (84), Harry McKirdy (86).

Referee - Robert Lewis

Attendance - 7,625 (700 Town Fans).

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