Peterborough United, inspired by Jack Marriott’s hat-trick, are second in League One after a most impressive 4-1 win at Bristol Rovers today (August 12).
Centre-back Steve Taylor also claimed his first competitive goal for the club to make a late consolation from home substitute Rory Gaffney irrelevant.
Rovers had plenty of pressure, particularly in the second-half, and struck the crossbar twice, but Posh defended with great spirit and determination, while always carrying a threat on the break.
There was a suspicion Posh and their 3-4-1-2 formation would be more of a threat away from home and so it proved in the opening stages as the pace and trickery of Gwion Edwards, Marcus Maddison and Marriott caused havoc.
And it took Posh just seven minutes to strike as a fine run and cross from left wing-back Edwards was only half-cleared and Marriott was on hand to drill home from close range.
Maddison’s reverse pass freed Marriott midway through the half, but the striker snatched at this chance and shot wide.
A fine cross from Leo D Silva Lopes was then met at the far post by Edwards who bundled a tough chance just wide before the home side, who weren’t helped by Tom Nichols’ shoot on sight policy, started to show some form.
Billy Bodin and Dan Leadbitter are a formidable combination down the Rovers right and it was the former who almost equalised on the stroke of half-time with a 20 yarder which thudded against the crossbar.
Otherwise Jonathan Bond wasn’t troubled in the first-half as defensive midfielder Anthony Grant delivered a maasterclass of breaking up play, winning free kicks and keeping possession.
Rovers started the second-half brightly, but wasted a great chance to equalise after an excellent run and cross by Nichols, but Elliott Harrison blazed miles over the bar from eight yards. Moments earlier Liam Sercombe had drawn a fine save from Bond with a 25 yard hit.
And Harrison’s blunder looked like being costly as within four minutes Posh extended their lead when Jack Baldwin’s interception and pass to Junior Morias freeing Marriott who again finished skilfully.
Rovers kept pressing with Nichols forcing a superb stop from Bond from just inside the area and Ryan Sweeney looping a header against the crossbar.
But Posh knocked the stuffing out of the home side with a third goal 12 minutes from time.
A corner was won by Marcus Maddison’s firce strike following excellent work from substitute Idris Kanu and Maddison’s corner was flicked on by Baldwin for Taylor to bundle home from close range.
The game went flat for a while, until Gaffney headed home a percise chip at the far post in the 85th minute.
But Marriott had the last word tapping in from close range after a fine left-wing cross from substitute Andrew Hughes in the fifth and final minute of added time.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Steven Taylor, Jack Baldwin, Ryan Tafazolli, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Gwion Edwards (sub Andrew Hughes. 90 mins), Anthony Grant, Michael Doughty, Marcus Maddison (sub Chris Forrester, 80 mins), Junior Morias (sub Idris Kanu, 74 mins), Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Alex Penney, Danny Lloyd, Andrea Borg.
Bristol Rovers: Adam Smith, Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Lockyer, Ryan Sweeney, Lee Brown, Chris Lines (sub Byron Moore, 62 mins), Stuart Sinclair (sub Ollie Clarke, 66 mins), Liam Sercombe, Billy Bodin, Tom Nichols, Ellis Harrison (sub Rory Gaffney, 62 mins). Unused substitutes: Sam Slocombe, Dom Telford, Marc Bola, Joe Partington.
Goals: Posh - Marriott (7 mins, 56 mins & 90 + 5 mins), Taylor (78 mins).
Rovers -Gaffney (85 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Grant (foul), Taylor (foul).
Rovers - Secombe (foul).
Referee: Nick Kinseley 7
Attendance: 9,758 (293 Posh).