Bristol Rovers made it back-to-back victories in League One under new manager Paul Tisdale with Saturday’s win over Plymouth Argyle at the Memorial Stadium.
Two set piece strikes from Alfie Gilmour and Luke McCormick in the first half proved too big a hurdle for the Pilgrims, who performed much better in the second half but were unable to take their chances.
A third goal for the Gas, scored by Zain Westbrooke in the late stages of the second half, sealed Argyle’s fifth successive league defeat.
Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe will be worried by his side who have only managed to score twice in their last five league games.
Story of the match
It didn’t take long for Rovers to take the lead after a spell of end-to-end football. Defender Kilgour got his first of the season six minutes into the clash, courtesy of a set-piece. The corner, swung in by McCormick, was met by Kilgour who managed to get ahead of his marker and redirect it into the Argyle net.
Rovers looked to build on this early lead, desperate to double their tally against the struggling Pilgrims.
Good vision from Brandon Hanlan found Edward Upson on the edge of the box, some clever feet from the midfielder allowed him half a yard to shoot, but it ricocheted off the wrong side of the post and away from danger.
A cross-come-shot from Sam Nicholson crashed off the crossbar and into the path of Westbrook, who forced a fine save from inside the six-yard box.
The danger wasn’t gone yet, though, as the set-piece deflected into the path of the onrushing McCormick - who met it on the half volley - sending it into the bottom corner.
Argyle almost managed an instant reply and showed they were not dejected despite staring down the barrel of a fifth successive league loss. Joe Edwards’ cross from deep found Ben Reeves unmarked in the box, the 29-year-old looked to add another volleyed goal to his name, but the attempt was straight at ‘keeper Jordi van Stappershoef who saved routinely.
Argyle searched for a goal before the break with Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie the prime creators. Both players came close at the death with Jephcott dragging his shot wide in a one-on-one and Hardie having a looping header tipped over the bar in theatrical fashion.
Half time substitutions from the Pilgrims saw George Cooper and Byron Moore introduced on either flank. Argyle continued to control the game but failed to take their chances.
Bristol Rovers grabbed the first clear cut chance on the hour mark after some clever one-touch football opened the Pilgrims, allowing Hanlan to be played through on goal. The former Gillingham forward was met quickly by Plymouth custodian Mike Cooper and failed to get the shot on target.
Argyle’s best chance of the game came from Moore. The wing-back cleanly hit his volley on the edge of the six-yard box but the attempt was blocked well by van Stappershoef.
The Gas went three up in the 85th minute after Westbrooke, just like Kilgour and McCormick, scored his first league goal of the season. Nicholson did well to cut the ball back from the byline into the path of Westbrooke, who tapped in from six yards out.
Is Tisdale the man?
After Rovers’ loss at Swindon Town, two days after Tisdale was announced, they have earnt points in three out of their four league fixtures.
With back-to-back wins now under his belt, could we see Tisdale take his new club on a run of results?
Plymouth are propping up the form table
We are approaching Christmas and Argyle are still yet to win on the road.
In their last five fixtures, Ryan Lowe’s side have conceded 15 goals and scored only twice. Sitting just three points over the drop zone, something will have to change quickly if the Pilgrims wish to remain in League One.
Don’t mistake him for Argyle’s deputy goalkeeper, the Bristol Rovers midfielder is on loan from Chelsea and will have impressed both clubs with his performance against Plymouth.
McCormick assisted Rovers’ opening goal with a well struck corner before grabbing a goal of his own, all before the 30-minute mark.
The ‘keeper is only making his second league appearance of the season, stepping in for the injured Anssi Jaakkola. He did not look out of place, though, as the Dutchman made several fine saves in the first half to keep his side’s two goal bumper intact.
Bristol: van Stappershoef (GK), Ehmer, Kilgour, Baldwin, Leahy, Grant, Upson (Barrett 90+2’), McCormick (Hargreaves 76’), Westbrooke, Nicholson, Hanlan (Ayunga 75’).
Subs not used: Armstrong (GK), Hare, Harries, Koiki.
Booked: Upson 68’,
Plymouth: M. Cooper (GK), Watts, Opoku, Aimson, Edwards (Moore 46’), Fornah (Nouble 83’), Camara, Reeves (G. Cooper 46’), Grant (Macleod 83’), Jephcott (Telford 64’), Hardie.
Subs not used: McCormick (GK), Wootton.
Booked: Watts 40’, Fornah 45+1’,