Walsall v Bristol Rovers Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to Walsall this weekend still without a win away from home this year.

The Gas have lost their last five away now, and their winless run on the road stretches back to the 22nd of October and manager Darrell Clarke has taken action following their 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood last week with six players being told that they do not have a future at the club.

Will Puddy, Mark McChrystal and Jermaine Easter, who all played against Fleetwood are amongst those who have been told that they can look for a new club.

Liam Lawrence, Jay Malpas and Tyler Lyttle are the other three players who have been told they do not have a future with Rovers.

“It was a tough decision to make, but by making it now it gives these players, who remain under contract with Bristol Rovers, the opportunity to find themselves a new club,” he told the club’s website.

On the trip to Walsall, Clarke said: “The results away from home are not what we expect and it is the reason that we are not in the top six if I’m honest, because our home form has been fantastic now for two-and-a-half-years.

“We had eleven away wins last season and I think it has been a mixture of things away from home this season. We have been a little bit unfortunate in games, but certainly, our standards have dropped of late on the road.

“The results away from home have been disappointing and will look to put that right Saturday.”

Walsall go into the game having beaten top of the league Sheffield United 4-1 last time out and manager Jon Whitney has said they must build on the result.

“The performance against Sheffield United was fantastic,” Whitney told the club’s website.

“We have kept it ticking over this week, but it means nothing if we don’t back it up with a performance.

“If we can get a win, it can push us into that top 10 which would be a great place to be.

“Bristol can beat teams three or four nil. But they have also been on the end of some big defeats as well.

“They have vulnerabilities, but they also have some real strengths, I can see where they get their goals from.

“Matty Taylor is a threat, as is Ellis Harrison. But we are also a threat. It should be a very good game.”

Team news for Rovers is that they have midweek loan signings Joe Lumley and Ryan Sweeney available after the pair arrived from QPR and Stoke respectively.

Clarke confirmed that goalkeeper Lumley will start against the Saddlers but it is unclear whether defender Sweeney will feature.

Walsall have a loan signing of their own in the form of Eoghan O’Connell available after the defender arrived from Celtic this week.

Stats

Rovers have not beaten Walsall away from home since 2009.

The last meeting between the two sides came in September where a 1-1 draw was played out at the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers’ last visit to Walsall ended in a 6-1 defeat in 2011 and was the year that Rovers suffered relegation from League One. Walsall finished one place above the drop zone that year.

21, Bristol Rovers fan for as long as i can remember. Highlight has to be to 06/07 Play Off win. Seen Rovers at 40/92 clubs in England and counting.

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