Stevenage Borough v Bristol Rovers Match Preview

Chris Whelpdale's winner for Stevenage at the Memorial Stadium earlier on this season.

Chris Whelpdale’s winner for Stevenage at the Memorial Stadium earlier on this season.   (Credit: BBC Sport)

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers go into the midweek fixture away at Stevenage looking to tighten their grip on the final automatic promotion place.

Rovers capitalised on results elsewhere in their last match in beating West Country rivals Yeovil Town 2-1 at a packed out Memorial Stadium.

The Gas are only ahead of fourth place Accrington Stanley on goal difference and it is looking likely that it will not be decided until the final day.

With four games to go, just two points separate second place Oxford and fifth place Plymouth and Rovers manager Darrell Clarke believes that his squad have ‘punched well above their weight this season’.

“I keep stressing to the players that we need to be enjoying the situation that we are in,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“There is no need to be tense because as far as I am concerned they have already punched well above their weight this season.

“To be in third place with four games to go is a fantastic achievement when you consider we are operating on a mid-table budget.”

Stevenage go into the game at the Lamex Stadium knowing that they only need a point to secure safety from relegation.

The Boro sit in 21st place and jumped above relegation rivals Newport County with a 2-1 win last time out and Managerial Advisor Glenn Roeder has admitted that Bristol Rovers will provide a very different test.

“They are a very good team in the offensive mode of the game. It is very important that we keep their attacking qualities to a bare minimum to restrict their opportunities,” he told the club’s website.

“We have got to do as well as we did on Saturday in the first half when we are attacking and playing our own offensive game.

Both Bradley Pritchard and Chris Whelpdale are doubts for the match but fellow midfielder Michael Tonge is expected to be fit despite picking up a knock in the win over Newport.

Steve Schumacher and Dave McAllister remain the only long-term absentees, both out with knee injuries.

Rovers have a near fully fit squad for the clash with only Stuart Sinclair on the injury list although it is believed that the tireless midfielder is close to a return.

Stats

This will be the first time the two sides have met at the Lamex Stadium and only the second time that they have ever met.

The only other time that these sides have met was earlier on this season with Stevenage winning 2-1 at the Memorial Stadium at the end of November.

Since that defeat though, Rovers have lost just 5 of the 24 matches played.

21, Bristol Rovers fan for as long as i can remember. Highlight has to be to 06/07 Play Off win. Seen Rovers at 43/92 clubs in England and counting.

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