Match report: Bristol Rovers 3 Blackpool 1

Kyle Vassell fires Blackpool into the lead
Kyle Vassell fires Blackpool into the lead
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Blackpool’s unbeaten run came to an emphatic end with defeat at the Memorial Stadium.

Despite taking an early lead through Kyle Vassell, the Seasiders surrendered the initiative to their hosts, who were full value for their win.

Billy Bodin levelled five minutes with half-time five minutes away before late goals from Ryan Sweeney and Ellis Harrison condemned Gary Bowyer’s players to their first league loss since the opening day.

Bowyer had named an unchanged starting XI and bench after making it seven games unbeaten with victory over Oxford United seven days earlier.

It meant that four of that line-up faced a reunion with former Seasiders’ keeper Sam Slocombe, who started for the home side.

Though it was the Seasiders who began on the front foot, they could have gone behind inside the first seven minutes.

A timely Colin Daniel header thwarted Harrison, who also volleyed over from Lee Brown’s corner when unmarked.

He was made to pay on 12 minutes when Vassell gave Blackpool the lead, controlling a long pass on his chest before firing in off Slocombe’s right-hand post.

Callum Cooke had a shot deflected behind before the home side belatedly began to get into the game.

Bodin twisted and turned before firing over while Byron Moore also lashed over after being played in behind Oliver Turton.

Viv Solomon-Otabor saw a shot blocked and Vassell’s free-kick went under the wall on its way through to Slocombe before Rovers got back on level terms with half-time five minutes away.

Chris Lines was allowed space to run at the Blackpool defence before slipping the ball for Bodin to finish clinically.

Turton got in the way of Tom Nichols’ shot before the half ended with the home side thinking they had a penalty when Moore went down - only for him to receive a yellow card for diving instead.

That was Moore’s last involvement as he and team-mate Joe Partington, who had also been cautioned, were both replaced at the break.

More bookings would follow in the second half as referee Gavin Ward began to infuriate the home camp with a series of debatable decisions.

However, it was Rovers who opened the second period in the ascendancy with Blackpool keeper Ryan Allsop having to claw away Nichols’ header.

At the other end, Blackpool’s much fabled shooting from distance was not living up to its billing as Daniel and Jimmy Ryan both sent free-kicks into the wall from favourable positions.

Bodin always looked the man most likely to be the difference between the two sides and he made another significant contribution with six minutes left.

Having sent over a number of dangerous crosses that had gone unrewarded, his patience paid off when yet another ball in was converted by Sweeney - though he was one of three players queuing up to score.

Then, with Blackpool on the attack in stoppage time, Rovers won possession and went upfield where Harrison raced into the area, switched the ball onto his left foot and fired home.

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Bola, Partington (Sweeney 46), Broadbent, Brown, Bodin, Lines, Clarke, Moore (Sercombe 46), Harrison, Nichols (Telford 65). Subs not used: Smith, Menayese, Broom, Gaffney.

Blackpool: Allsop, Turton, Robertson, Tilt, Daniel, Mellor, Longstaff (D’Almeida 71), Ryan, Cooke (Quigley 90), Solomon-Otabor (Delfouneso 61), Vassell. Subs not used: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, Clayton.

Referee: Gavin Ward.

Attendance: 8,431.