Bishops Cleeve 6 Paulton Rovers 2: A rampant Bishops Cleeve rolled Rovers over on Saturday afternoon.

Three goals in each half consigned Rovers to their 9th defeat in a row and perilously close to the bottom spot in the league.

The early moments of the half showed the strengths of the hosts and they combined smoothly, bringing in their wingers as often as they could.

Frankie Phillips had to make a good stop in the first minute and a chance for Ethan Dunbar in the 6th minute brought a last minute block.

Rovers responded when Kyle Tooze used his strength to break through the Cleeve defence to get a shot away. The keeper parried it away but frustratingly out of reach of the Rovers forwards who were closing in. A barrage of chances followed in the next few minutes as James Sunley and Ethan Dunbar went close for Cleeve before new Rovers signing, Milo Murgatroyd, picked up a threaded ball from Martin Lenihan only to put his shot narrowly wide.

Rovers were starting to get a foothold in the game and despite chances still coming at the wrong end, they themselves were causing some issues for Cleeve. In the 24th minute, Kyle Tooze again used his strength to get a shot away. It was blocked but the ball came back to him and he was immediately surrounded by three defenders. Moments later, Toozey was in again as Murgatroyd fed him with a brilliant squared ball from the right. Just as the boss pulled the trigger, he was blocked and the chance went again.

Cleeve went close with two free-kicks that brought the best from Frankie Phillips before they opened the scoring in the 31st minute. From a corner, Will Turner rose highest to score with his head. So often in the recent past, the curse of losing a goal has led to more very soon after and so it was to be again.

Sunley went close again almost straight from the restart before the second came in the 34th minute. Jay Malshanskyj escaped the attention of two Rovers players down the left and fed a low cross across the face of the goal. The unfortunate Rovers captain, Neil Martin, could only steer the ball into his own net.

The 40th minute saw the third. Sunley was denied again by Frankie Phillips but his parried save only fell to Ethan Dunbar who made no mistake in firing into the empty net.

Rovers improved again in the final minutes of the half. Murgatroyd cut in and fired a shot wide in the 41st minute before the visitors upped the pressure again forcing two corners. Both led to chances the second of which saw Neil Martin fire over the bar after a scramble in the box.

Rovers needed a good start to the second half if they were to have any chance of getting back into the game. And they did but again, they could not make the pressure count. In the opening 12 minutes of the half they forced four corners but only one saved shot from Sam Pashen came from them. Bishops Cleeve having soaked up the pressure responded again.

Chances for Noah Parker, Jay Malshanskyj and Josh Nelmes followed over the next five minutes showing Rovers were still rocky at the back.

Ed Butcher and Jamarni Langlais were introduced for Rovers and were immediately involved. In the 68th minute, Butcher skipped past the Cleeve left back to get a cross away and the keeper had to back peddle to stop it reaching the top corner at the far post. Four minutes later, more good work from Butcher found Langlais in the box. His shot was blocked but the ball fell kindly for Kyle Tooze who slammed the ball into the back of the net. It was just what Rovers needed.

But the feel good feeling didn’t last long as Cleeve grabbed their fourth in the 79th minute after a goal mouth scramble. Following three blocked attempts, Ross Langworthy managed to find a way through the melee. The fifth followed two minutes later as Toby Holland got free and fired past Phillips.

Rovers looked beaten, but they still worked to try and get another consolation. Ed Butcher won a free kick in the 86th minute which he took himself. He swung in a cross to the far post which Neil Martin headed decisively home. But Cleeve were not finished. In added time, Jay Malshanskyj broke free on the left and powered in an unstoppable shot to hit Rovers for six for the second time at Kayte Lane this season.

After a stunning 5-0 win for Exmouth over Larkhall, the gap has closed and Rovers now only sit two points above the drop zone and with a long wait until the next game, this result will hurt for some time.

Jon Green