Bristol Rovers v Southend United Match Preview
By Simon Gray
Bristol Rovers will be hoping to show people that their play off dream may be on it’s way to becoming a reality as they entertain another member of the chasing pack in the form of seventh place Southend United at the Memorial Stadium.
Rovers are in ninth position and are just three points off of Saturday’s opponents as well as being seven points off of the top six and on-loan Stoke City defender Ryan Sweeney insists that the Gas have what it takes to make the play offs.
“The six draws on the spin was quite frustrating, but considering the standard of the opposition we faced we looked on them as points gained,” Sweeney told the Bristol Post.
“We are still well in the mix, but we know we need to win some games on the bounce if we are to apply some real pressure to the teams in the top six. We have a good home record and are in good form so we are well-placed.
If we can win a few on the bounce in this league there is no reason why we can’t push on up the table. We have to be wary of Southend as they drew 1-1 against Port Vale and will be looking for a response.”
Rovers go into the game having been boosted by three key players extending their contracts past the summer. Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke and Stuart Sinclair all put pen to paper on new deals and have put some fans’ minds at ease.
Rovers however will be without one of the trio for the next two matches as Ollie Clarke picked up his 10th booking away at Oxford last time out.
This means manager Darrell Clarke will either have to change up the formation or bring Lee Mansell back into the side, Mansell replaced Ollie Clarke from the bench last weekend so looks to be the suitable replacement.
Southend go into the game on a somewhat inconsistent run. The Blues have won two, drawn two, and lost two of their last six games and manager Phil Brown has said that it is a very important week for them.
After their trip to Bristol, Southend face struggling Coventry before another tough match against eighth placed Walsall next weekend.
“It’s the most important week of the season,” he told the club’s website.
“If we’re going to do anything this season we need to get a massive points return.
“A lot of people are saying what the points total will be and how many games we need to win from the last 11, but there’s nothing better than winning your next game. That’s what we’ll be trying to do against Bristol Rovers.”
Brown will hope to have both Stephen McLaughlin and Nile Ranger available for selection but both face late fitness tests. Both were unavailable in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Port Vale.
Rovers have not beaten Southend in their last six matches, drawing four of them.
The last time these two sides met at the Memorial Stadium ended in a 0-0 draw in March 2014.
The reverse fixture between these two sides earlier in the season ended in a 1-1 draw, Rovers led thanks to a Peter Hartley header but Simon Cox rescued a point from the penalty spot at Roots Hall.