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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Bristol Rovers 0-2 Town

10 August 2021

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Cheltenham Town booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup with this comfortable win at Bristol Rovers.

Michael Duff's side were the better side from start to finish and clinched the tie thanks to goals by Alfie May and Kyle Vassell, on his debut.

They came here to the Memorial Stadium at the same stage two years ago and were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline but tonight they showed how far they have come in a short space of time.

The goals arrived in 13 second-half minutes and capped another encouraging performance on the road.

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"I think it's fair to say we've improved [since the 3-0 defeat in 2019]," Duff said afterwards.

"Everyone looked they did on Saturday. We looked fit and together and that's been the strength of the side for two years.

"There little bits of quality in that as well so we were good value for the win. I thought there were some really good individual performances and quite a few people didn't do themselves any harm at all."

He made seven changes to the side that returned from Crewe with a hard earned point four days ago.

Callum Wright and Taylor Perry were among the new faces, making their first starts in midfield alongside Ellis Chapman. Meanwhile Vassell, who joined the club on a one-year deal 24 hours earlier, was sent on as a 66th minute substitute to make his decisive contribution.

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Cheltenham carried on where they left off on Saturday, playing with confidence and cohesion and went on to create the best chance of the opening 45 minutes.

Callum Wright had a couple of early chances, one of which flew well wide while the other, a clever flick, was easily held. He later saw an inventive effort from distance saved.

But it was Ellis Chapman with the best moment of the half, striking the woodwork from fully 25 yards.

There were a couple of half chances for Will Boyle and Alfie May but they didn't threaten James Belshaw's goal.

Perry fashioned a fantastic chance shortly after the break, twisting away from his marker to tee up an effort from a tight angle but Belshaw pushed it into the side netting.

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The first goal arrived 13 minutes into the second half after a sweeping move which saw Cheltenham turn defence into attack. Will Boyle brought it out of defence and played in Wright, who send a long diagonal ball into the path of May, who took it down and poked home from 12 yards.

Liam Sercombe was sent on with 26 minutes remaining (in place of Perry) and received a warm reception from the home faithful. The midfielder almost scored with first contribution, cutting in from the left but his low effort was saved.

But Duff's side added the second 19 minutes from time through Vassell, who took advantage of some poor defending after a mis-hit by Wright to smash home from close range to mark his first start with a goal.

Former youth product Luke Thomas and Connor Taylor had half-chances at the other end but in truth, Joey Barton's side rarely threatened the Robins defence.

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BRISTOL ROVERS (4-3-3): Belshaw; Kilgour, Taylor, Baldwin, Anderton; Liddle (Langais 70), Grant, Anderson; Thomas (Jones 77), Westbrooke (Spence 70), Saunders. Subs not used: Ward, Harries, Hoole, Budd.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Flinders; Horton, Tozer (c), Boyle; Long, Wright, Chapman (Hussey 80), Perry (Sercombe 66), Freestone; May (Vassell 66), Lloyd. Subs not used: Evans (Gk), Raglan, Bonds, Ebanks.

REFEREE: L Swabey

ATTENDANCE: tbc


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