Ben Garner expecting bright future for Bristol Rovers striker Brandon Hanlan
Ben Garner predicted a bright Bristol Rovers future for Brandon Hanlan after the striker’s man-of-the-match display against 10-man Northampton.
Former Gillingham frontman Hanlan, signed as a free agent this summer, netted a 55th-minute penalty after tricking his way past Cian Bolger and being brought down from behind.
The big centre-forward was also involved in the 60th minute sending off of Cobblers defender Joe Martin, who received a second yellow card for catching him in the face with an arm as they challenged for the ball.
Jack Baldwin made sure of Rovers’ first win of the season by volleying in a 79th-minute cross from Cian Harries and the home side were only denied a more comfortable win by some fine Steve Arnold saves in the closing stages.
Rovers boss Garner said: “Brandon Hanlan was outstanding. He is one of a few players we have had to take time with to reach full match fitness.
“Now we are starting to see how good he is and he will only get better. He is a strong lad, who makes life difficult for defenders.
“The whole team will take confidence from this result. The players have been working so hard, but things hadn’t gone our way until today.
“My only complaint is that we should have won by a lot more goals. But I will happily settle for the three points and the performance.
“We should have been ahead at the break because Cian Harries had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. In the end we were well worth our win.
“Now we can go to Oxford United on Tuesday full of self-belief and try to build on this result.”
Northampton boss Keith Curle, who began his playing career with Rovers, was unhappy with the sending off of Martin.
He said: “The referee saw what happened and wasn’t going to give a foul until the fourth official intervened and took the view that Joe had thrust a forearm into Hanlan’s face.
“That is someone who knows the rules, but has never played the game. Joe’s arm was in a natural position and his eyes never left the ball as he tried to protect it when being challenged.
“There is no right of appeal for two yellow cards so we have to accept it. But it was a big moment in the game.
“Their lad has done well for the penalty, but it was a cheap one to give away from our point to view.
“Overall, we didn’t move the ball well enough or defend as we should have. But we are a work in progress and still getting used to life in a higher division.
“I made a triple substitution to try and give us a different focus, but we weren’t good enough today.”