Bristol Rovers v Rochdale Match Preview

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By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers play their first Saturday home fixture of the EFL One season this weekend as they entertain early strugglers Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium.

The Gas, who have not played a full length league match in 3 weeks sit 22nd in the table, but do have as much as two games in hand on some of the teams above them.

This is also the first match after the summer transfer window slammed shut on August 31st, with Rovers acquiring three new additions on deadline day. Hiram Boateng, a defensive midfielder arrived from Crystal Palace on loan just before 5pm before Chelsea duo Jake Clarke-Salter and Charlie Colkett joined on loan two hours later.

Manager Darrell Clarke, who said he was happy with his summer deals as also now admitted that it will be difficult to keep everyone happy.

“We have certainly got enough in the building to cover any injury crisis. Of course it is more difficult to pick a side when you have greater numbers to choose from. I know the players’ strengths and weaknesses and which ones I should pick to fit into each separate project,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“The difficulty is that it will be impossible for me to keep everybody happy when it comes to making decisions over who plays and who doesn’t.

“It is a challenge of course, but not one I am worried about because the ball is always in the players’ court.

“They have to rise to the occasion and be at it in every game or they could be a long time sitting up in the stands watching football instead of playing it.”

Rochdale have started the new League One season in abysmal form, picking up just two points from their opening six games but they did manage to beat Sunderland U21’s on penalties on Tuesday night.

Rochdale manager Keith Hill was full of praise when speaking about Rovers and boss Clarke, stating that their back to back promotions was ‘superb’.

“I think the way they did it has been superb. Bristol Rovers are a big football club but there are a lot of big football clubs that have fallen on bad times,” he told the club’s website.

“Bristol bounced superbly through good management, good recruitment and a solid plan. Not only did they bounce well out of non-league, they also had a tremendous season last season.

“And they’ve kept that positivity. They’ve got leaders, they’ve recruited well and they’ll definitely adapt to League 1.”

Rovers have a fully fit squad going into Saturday’s game after Lee Mansell and Byron Moore played 60 minutes in Tuesday’s reserve win over Exeter.

Stats

The last match between these sides ended in a 2-1 away win to Rochdale in April 2014, this helped them secure promotion to League One and also dented Rovers survival hopes as they were relegated out of the Football League a month later.

Bristol Rovers hero Rickie Lambert was signed by the Gas from Rochdale for £200,000 back in 2006.

Rochdale midfielder Matthew Lund played 31 times for Rovers during two loan spells, scoring four times. Rovers manager Darrell Clarke played 12 times for Rochdale during a loan spell, scoring once.

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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