ROVERS continued their impressive recent resurgence with a fine win over promotion-chasing Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
You would have thought the Pirates were the team chasing a place in the top seven, given the differing levels of performance from both sides. The Brewers seemed content to play for a point, as they were set up quite defensively and only made rare forays into our penalty area.
In contrast Rovers were on the front foot throughout the game, constantly looking for a way to prise open their opponents’ defence and gain the breakthrough.
Our reward was to come on 70 minutes as an excellent cross by the ever-consistent Smith was met with an accurate header by Clarkson.
The Scot looked frozen out of the team until recently but celebrated his recall with a decent game and the all-important first goal. He has the ability to score plenty of goals at this level, rarely gives the ball away and has the vision to bring others into play, so it is hard to fathom why he was excluded from the side for so long.
Victory was confirmed just nine minutes later when a fierce Clarkson volley could only be parried by the keeper and O’Toole again showed his knack of being in the right place at the right time to tap in the rebound and score his 14th of the season. His goals are proving invaluable this season but he was part of an excellent all-round team performance that was full of commitment and attacking verve and secured back-to-back league wins for the first time since last August.
The trip to promotion contenders Scunthorpe on Tuesday night was always going to present a tough test but the Pirates rose to the challenge to come home with a morale-boosting 1-1 draw. Gillespie’s first goal for the club three minutes from time means Rovers are now in 19th position, six points away from the relegation zone.
Rovers next face a trip to relegation strugglers Northampton Town on Saturday, where victory would push us closer to a comfortable mid-table position.