Andy Mangan impressed with 10-man Bristol Rovers’ battling qualities

By Sports Desk November 11, 2023

Bristol Rovers caretaker manager Andy Mangan was full of praise for his 10-man side’s desire after earning a hard-fought 1-0 win at Carlisle.

Sam Lavelle’s own goal before half-time proved to be the difference as Rovers, who extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to five matches, rose to 10th place in the League One table and United dropped to 22nd.

The Pirates went a man down in the 73rd minute as Tristan Crama pulled back Terry Ablade to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity, but they held on for victory.

“I’m delighted for them to be honest,” said Mangan, who has overseen three wins and a draw since taking interim charge following the sacking of Joey Barton.

“Their endeavour, their hard work, their desire to see that through after the sending-off is amazing. The lads deserve all the credit that they can get.”

The winning goal came in the 38th minute, when the returning Jack Hunt’s cross took a wicked deflection off opposition defender Lavelle and looped into the net.

Mangan said a change of shape played a key part in securing all three points.

“I just felt we could hurt them in wide areas,” he added.

“I think in the first 20 minutes you saw some really decent chances for us on the counter, when we hit them on the break.

“Jack Hunt was getting crosses in wide. Harvey Vale was then landing on them because they play a four. So the change of shape actually helped us.

“I thought we were a little bit more dangerous on the counter-attack and also, because they’re a little bit direct, what we could do was catch their long balls and then pick up a few more balls in the middle of the park with the three in the middle. It went to plan, thankfully, in the end.”

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson described the decisive goal as a “horrible” one to give away, but was keen to avoid blaming the result entirely on bad luck.

“It’s those fine margins that we keep falling on the wrong side of,” he said.

“There’s other things that we need to concern ourselves with, rather than just that.

“It’d be wrong to just look at that and say we were unlucky because you have to make your own luck.

“We’ve had 23 crosses into the box, we’ve had 10 corners, we’ve had six free-kicks, we’ve had five long throw-ins. We haven’t got on the end of enough of them. We haven’t troubled their goalkeeper.

“And, the big thing for me, we have to get to a mental state where we’ve got a desire to go and score goals and to get on the end of things.

“They’ve had some decent bits of football – I’ll give them that – and they’ve got some good footballers in there, but they haven’t troubled us a hell of a lot in terms of our goal.”

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    Captain Paul Huntington’s first-half goal proved decisive to restore some pride for the Cumbrians and left his manager wanting more.

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    “Now we have to go and try and build on it and play with some pride and try and build some respect back for us.”

    There was a degree of confusion over the goalscorer, with Sam Lavelle’s goal-bound header appearing to take a deflection off Huntington before beating Max Crocombe in the Burton goal.

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    The Blues boss was delighted with the team performance, but singled out goalkeeper Harry Lewis after his first clean sheet for the club secured the win.

    “I am delighted for Harry Lewis tonight,” Simpson added. “He has made three or four really big saves for us.

    “I look at goalkeepers and say how points do they win us. He has actually won that for us tonight with those saves.

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    Burton manager Martin Paterson was “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome as his side fell to back-to-back home defeats in the space of four days after two good wins on the road.

    “Two games at home, no points,” Paterson said. “Bitterly disappointed and I have to front that one up as the manager. It is not acceptable. No excuses, it is not good enough.”

    It is now three home defeats in a row, without a goal, and the Brewers boss, who appointed in January, said he knows what is needed.

    “This is a group with high effort but if I am honest, we need to get to the training ground and do a lot of work.

    “The balance of the in-possession piece was not there today and hasn’t been for two home games.

    “It is easy to go on a negative slide, but I know what needs to be done to correct it but I can’t say it enough. It is on me.

    “We concede a set-play which generally we are decent at and against a team fighting for their lives, ultimately it allows them to play a certain way.

    “The onus is on us to break them down and that is where we need to improve quickly. I understand the supporters’ frustrations.”

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    City took the lead after six minutes from Hackett’s corner. Joe Taylor’s shot was blocked and Hackett’s follow-up was kept out, only for Bishop to fire his effort into the bottom corner.

    Hackett made it two after 57 minutes, smashing a left-footed shot into the top corner following a back-heeled pass from Taylor.

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    Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst was bitterly disappointed with his under-performing players and gave a brutal assessment of his team.

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    Both sides remain in the bottom four but Fleetwood boss Charlie Adam left Vale Park the happier man.

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