A THRILLING last 30 minutes saw Rovers achieve a spirited victory against Walsall at the Mem on Saturday despite going down to 10 men.

The Gas started brightly, playing some decent football and putting the Saddlers under pressure from the kick-off.

Gaffney produced an excellent finish to capitalise on a defensive slip to give us the lead in the fifth minute.

It looked like it would be one-way traffic from then on, but within 20 minutes we eased off and sat back on our lead as a determined Walsall side threatened our defence with waves of attacks.

However we held firm and looked to improve after the half-time break, but continued to sit back and invite more pressure.

Darrell Clarke decided to make a couple of changes to freshen up the side as Harrison replaced Gaffney and Leadbitter came on for the injured Lines.

But the move backfired as Walsall scored from a corner to regain parity. Worse was to follow as we went down to 10 men when Slocombe rushed out of goal and brought down Bakayoko.

Young keeper Alexis Andre entered the fray, with the ineffective Nichols being sacrificed.

From that moment the game took a dramatic twist as the 8,500-strong crowd woke up and gave fervent backing to the team. The Saddlers threw everything at us but we defended magnificently as every player fought like their lives depended on it and Andre impressed between the sticks.

The Mem then erupted as against the odds, Ollie Clarke rifled in a volley from close range to give us the lead on 86 minutes and despite an agonising six minutes of injury time, we held on and celebrated a memorable victory.

Rovers failed to maintain that form as they slumped to a 3-2 defeat to Oldham at the Mem on Tuesday night.

A poor performance saw us go 2-0 down before a late rally and goals from Gaffney and Sweeney levelled matters, until the Latics’ late winner resulted in a disappointing loss.

The Pirates face a tough away trip to Wigan on Saturday before heading to Wolves in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.