Bristol Rovers v Walsall Match Preview

 

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By Simon Gray

This week’s midweek match sees newly promoted Bristol Rovers entertain Walsall at the Memorial Stadium.

The match, which was postponed due to international call ups was supposed to take place 10 days ago and it also sees Rovers play one of their two games in hand on many teams in the division.

The Gas drew 2-2 at home to Rochdale last time out and manager Darrell Clarke described it as a close encounter.

“It was a game that could have gone either way”, he told the Bristol Post.

“I thought we started brightly, but they scored a goal with what was probably their second attack.

“We gave the ball away sloppily and we were punished pretty convincingly.

“We started with a very attack-minded 3-4-3, but we didn’t manage to score when we were on top for the first 15 minutes and that was when the flaws of the system came in a little bit.

“We were always in the football match and the character of the boys was evident in the way that they came from behind twice. We are learning in a tough league and I have a massive amount of confidence in the players.

The Saddlers had a very successful League One campaign last season, finishing in 3rd place and losing to eventual Play Off winners Barnsley in the semi-finals.

Manager Jon Whitney, who saw his side lose 2-0 away at another promoted side Northampton Town has urged fans to be patient.

“We need to be patient but I understand not everyone is as patient as me,” he told the Express and Star.

“I just ask, please stick with us because it will turn and we will go on a run.

“It’s not through a lack of effort from the players that we aren’t winning games and I think the fans can see that.

“I can understand their frustration and I can assure them nobody is hurting more than me and I will put it right.”

Walsall sit 20th in the League One table, one place below Rovers and one place above the relegation zone in these early stages of the season.

Rovers have a fully fit squad for this one and could also hand a start to Chelsea loanees Charlie Colkett and Jake Clarke-Salter, Colkett impressed when coming on as a sub against Rochdale where as Clarke-Salter managed 90 minutes for Chelsea’s development side on Friday night has he continues his comeback from injury.

Walsall will be without midfielders Franck Moussa and Florent Cuvelier as they recover from injury.

Stats

Walsall youth team coach John Ward had to managerial spells at Rovers, the second of which he had Darrell Clarke as his assistant.

The last meeting between the sides came at the Bescot Stadium with Walsall emphatically winning 6-1 in 2011.

The last meeting at the Memorial Stadium came earlier that year where the sides played out a 2-2 draw.

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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