Rovers took a significant step in the hunt for promotion after their clinical 2-1 win against Crawley Town on Tuesday night saw the Gas side move to within two points of the play-offs.
Goals from former Crawley youth product Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins helped the visitors claim all three points at the Sussex-based outfit, also ensuring Rovers did the double over their opponents following their 1-0 win at the Memorial Stadium earlier in the campaign.
Ashley Nadesan was looking to continue his fine form in front of goal and had a chance to grab the opener in the sixth minute after Joel Lynch fired an excellent ball over the top of the Bristol defence, which Nadesdan got on the end of but could only drag his shot wide of the target.
Nadesan then had an even better chance to put the home side ahead moments later after finding himself one on one with James Belshaw, capitalising on a loose header from Sam Finley, but was denied following a fine save from the Rovers stopper.
However, the Gas took the lead in the 41st minute following a quick counter-attack from Rovers saw Harry Anderson expertly convert a calm finish under Glenn Morris to give the away side the lead heading into the interval.
The Gas’ persistence continued in the second half, and Collins soon gave them a two-goal cushion in the 65th minute following another quick break from Rovers, with Luca Hoole playing a brilliant ball to Collins, who drilled a powerful effort past Morris.
However, the away side’s two-goal lasted just four minutes as Jake Hessenthaler grabbed a goal on his return to put Crawley firmly back in contention after nodding in Jack Powell’s corner, setting up a tense finish.
Despite Crawley’s constant pressure, they were ultimately unable to find an equaliser, with the Red Devil’s abysmal run at the People’s Pension Stadium continuing with the Reds managing to win only two of the last 13 home games.
Home manager John Yems, serving a touchline ban, claimed his side didn’t deserve to lose, while also expressing his frustration at the officiating during the game following the decision to allow Anderson’s goal. He said: “I think we deserved a draw out of it. We had 21 shots, they had 12, two of their’s went in and only one of our’s did. It was one of those games.
“Their first goal was blatant offside. The FA have to come and assess these people. I am sitting up there as a fan today and you look at it and you think ‘where are they coming from?’.
“I thought it was a good game, they are a good side. He’s [Joey Barton] got them playing well. Did we deserve to lose? No.”
Meanwhile, Rovers’ manager Joey Barton expressed his delight following his side’s victory, while also commending the home side: “We’re delighted to get out of here with three points. We probably could have made it a bit easier for ourselves, but credit to Crawley, they kept testing us and kept probing and pushing us right to the end.”