SATURDAY’S trip to the Gateshead International Stadium was always likely to be a tricky affair.

Gateshead are a team who play neat and tidy football and carry a goal threat, as their performance in Rovers’ 3-2 win at home before Christmas demonstrated, but the almost seven hundred travelling Gasheads were not about to be entertained to the same exciting level.

On this occasion, the two teams cancelled each other out with very few chances at either end. Stuart Sinclair returned to the midfield, only for his afternoon to be cut short by what looked like a nasty knee injury after 25 minutes.

Clarke brought on lively loanee Adam Dawson to inject some much-needed attacking flair, but in reality the first-half fizzled out and the second proceeded in similarly uninspiring fashion. That was until the introduction of the mercurial Ellis Harrison.

Within minutes of coming on, the Rovers sub ran onto Lee Brown’s ball over the top to coolly lob the onrushing Gateshead keeper and break the deadlock.

Rovers comfortably saw the game out to record their 20th victory of what is rapidly turning into a very exciting campaign.

The result means that Rovers have won their last five outings, extending the unbeaten run to twenty games – the current longest of any professional club in England.

After a dismal start to the campaign, few Gasheads can have any complaints with the way Darrell Clarke and the team have gone about their business. Rovers have the enviable knack of winning games without playing particularly well and have the tightest defence in the league. Maintaining nerve and discipline is now paramount.

Clarke has an interesting dilemma for this Saturday’s visit from playoff-chasing Eastleigh - who to play up front? Does he stick with Blissett and Taylor or perhaps give Ellis a start partnering a returning Jermaine Easter?

Whichever line-up he chooses, Gasheads will have faith in the man who has transformed our prospects after the disaster of relegation.

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