Bristol Rovers v AFC Wimbledon Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Two teams that were promoted from League Two do battle this New Years Eve as Bristol Rovers entertain AFC Wimbledon at the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers are full of confidence again after their emphatic 4-1 Boxing Day win over Coventry City.

The win saw assistant boss Marcus Stewart praise winger Billy Bodin for his performance in which the midfielder scored a hat trick against the sky Blues.

“It was good to see him looking sharp on Monday,” Stewart told the Bristol Post.

“The run he went on towards the end of the game to win the penalty was fantastic and I don’t think he would have been able to do that a few months ago.

“Having Billy back in full flight and on form is another great option for us to to have for the two games to come over the weekend.

“He’s got that little bit of extra quality needed to be a match-winner and having players like that on the pitch can make a big difference in tight games.

“When you have those types of player in the squad you always know there is a chance that we can win a game out of nothing even if we are not at our best.”

Manager Darrell Clarke may name an unchanged side from Boxing Day’s fixture but unable to call upon midfielder Hiram Boateng after his loan spell from Crystal Palace was cut short.

Wimbledon meanwhile go into the match having not won away from home in the league since 22nd October.

The Dons’ recent away form continued as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Southend on Boxing Day in a match that saw last season’s top scorer Lyle Taylor get sent off and manager Neal Ardley sent to the stands.

Assistant boss Neil Cox attended media duties after the match and was unhappy with the team’s performance in the first half.

“It was the first 20 minutes,” Cox told getwestlondon.

“We did a lot of work on their set-pieces, including defending throw-ins, and we went over it again this morning, but we did not start the game well.

“We got punished from a long throw-in with a flick-on and Simon Cox was left unmarked at the back post. That was really disappointing on the day.”

Wimbledon will be without Lyle Taylor for the match but striker Tyrone Barnett could deputise after causing Southend problems once coming on.

Stats

Both teams were promoted at the expense of Plymouth Argyle and Accrington Stanley last season, Rovers finished third ahead of the two where as Wimbledon beat Accrington in the Play Off semi-finals and then Argyle in the final.

Rovers have lost just once to the Dons in their 9 previous encounters.

That loss came at the Cherry Red Records Fans Stadium meaning Rovers are unbeaten at home against them with the previous result coming in the form of a 3-1 win last season.

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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