FAMILIAR FACE: Darrell Clarke enjoys successful return to Bristol Rovers
PA - Nick Potts
Darrell Clarke made a happy return to the Memorial Stadium as third-placed Port Vale secured a 2-1 League Two victory over a Bristol Rovers side who ended the game with nine men.
Clarke spent four years as Rovers boss and saw his Port Vale side have a man advantage from the 15th minute when midfielder Sam Finley was sent off on the advice of an assistant referee after clashing with Tom Conlon in an off-the-ball incident.
Vale dominated the first half and made their advantage tell when Ben Garrity was allowed space to volley in off the crossbar from Conlon’s 31st-minute free-kick.
Two minutes later Garrity struck again, sliding in to convert a Lewis Cass cross from the right.
Rovers made a better fist of things after the break and pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when Aaron Collins netted with a deflected shot from the edge of the box.
But any hope of a comeback ended after 77 minutes when defender Cian Harries was red-carded for bringing down Garrity and denying a clear scoring opportunity.
Joey Barton admitted his Bristol Rovers side had to be more disciplined post match: “That’s seven red cards for us this season, which is too many. I have never imposed a disciplinary code as a manager, fining players for being sent off, but I might change that.
“I will also stop telling my lads to stay on their feet and play like men because opposition players are conning the referee left, right and centre.
“Sam Finley was stupid to get involved in the incident that got him sent off. But I have watched it back five times and it was no more than a shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
“Their lad has gone down as though he was butted and the linesman was on the wrong side to advise the referee as he did.
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