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BRETT Pitman was the hero after Swindon Town beat Bristol Rovers 1-0 in a turgid affair at County Ground on Saturday
In a game that featured very little quality on either side, Pitman’s late header gave Town three vital points in his quest for League One survival.
John Sheridan’s men moved up to 18th in the standings after the manager’s first win, while a second clean sheet of the season came at the perfect time as Town hopes to change form in time for the second local derby of the next weekend against Oxford United
Town made four changes from the poor midweek performance against Accrington Stanley, the most notable of which came in goal
Matej Kovar regained his place between the sticks after a few games on the sidelines while Dion Donohue, Mathieu Baudry and Jack Payne also returned
Former Gasman Tom Broadbent had to settle for a place on the bench for Swindon, as did former city lender Ali Koiki for Rovers
In very low-quality play, the first 10 minutes were perhaps indicative of what to follow as Jack Payne dragged a shot off target from a distance while Rovers’ Sam Nicholson started from an early turn.
Payne shot off target from outside the box again as the first 15 minutes went by without much goal mouth action
Town got huge screams for a canceled penalty in the 21st minute when Hallam Hope fell into the box after stealing his position
Brendon Hanlan and Nicholson both shot wide just outside the box in similar positions for the Rovers midway through the first half before Josh Grant resumed the volley from another turn
The rovers had a few more hits around the half hour mark as Alfie Kilgour headed two successive turns
Brett Pitman hit the side net after a wonderfully weighed ball from Mathieu Baudry, and moments later Jonny Smith shot straight on Anssi Jaakkola
With less than 10 minutes to go, Akin Odimayo recovered midway in the Rovers’ half, after Jonny Smith lost possession, and went on a rampage before cutting inside to his left and to shoot directly at Jaakkola
Donohue was booked for a heavy challenge on Nicholson just before the break, while Pitman summed up a dismal first 45 for all concerned after throwing a first volley backwards from Stratton Bank from a long distance
The rovers had the first chance of the second half after the ball went to Josh Grant on the right His shot was powerful, but widely deflected for a corner kick
The second half continued with a worrying lack of action in the mouth of goals from both sides – only the introduction of Jordan Stevens in place of Jonny Smith dissected a exhausted 20-minute period
Jonathan Grounds received his fifth yellow card of the season just past the hour mark, meaning he is now suspended for Tuesday’s home game against Lincoln City Moments later, Odimayo was also booked for a late tackle
Hallam Hope nearly opened the scoring in the 65th minute after a ball from Matt Smith fell at the striker’s feet from 25 yards
Hope opened her body and coiled an effort off the ranged target
Town nearly took the lead in fortuitous circumstances 20 minutes from time after David Tutonda’s clearance was misinterpreted
He still managed to do enough to push him into a corner, but it certainly wasn’t where he wanted it to be.
But with 15 minutes to go, a terribly despicable game took a breath of life as Pitman walked towards the net from Matt Smith’s free kick to the left.
Neither player had enjoyed a particularly successful game, but the goal was a welcome quality from the pair.
In the last 10 minutes, Matej Kovar made a magnificent save to his right to keep the score 1-0
The ball fell to Luke McCormick on the edge of the box, and the Rovers man grabbed it nicely like a nut, but the loaned Manchester United player sprang to his right to push the ball away with a firm wrist
Seconds later, Nicholson headed against the six-yard post as the Rovers crammed under the pressure
But it wasn’t for Paul Tisdale’s side, as Town held up well in the final five minutes – plus extra time – to take the win.
STFC starting XI: Kovar, Odimayo, Grounds, Baudry (C), Donohue, M Smith, A Grant, J Smith, Hope, Payne, Pitman
Starting BRFC XI: Jaakkola, Hare, Harries, Ehmer (C), Kilgour, Tutonda, Josh Grant, Upson, McCormick, Nicholson, Hanlan
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City of Swindon FC, Bristol Rovers FC, EFL League One, Paul Tisdale, Brett Pitman
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