Bristol Rovers v Walsall Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers host Walsall this weekend at the Memorial Stadium hoping to bounce back from last time out.

Rovers lost 3-1 away at Bradford in front of the Sky TV cameras last weekend in a match where the travelling side conceded three times from crosses into their box, two being from corner kicks.

Rovers manager Darrell Clarke spoke of his disappointment in the loss at Bradford and has admitted it has been a tough week in training not having his first choice centre backs (Tom Lockyer and Ryan Sweeney) around.

“It’s not easy because Burn is injured too,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“So you look at my senior squad and I’ve got one centre-half fit. So you want to do something but it becomes a bit pointless doing something because you’ve only got one player dealing with it.

“And centre-halves will be the ones dealing with it. So it’s been tough, but there’s certainly not nothing we can’t look at on video and other details.

“It doesn’t always have to be out on the grass doing that. We can work on other things on the training ground. You have to be flexible.

“We’re disappointed we conceded two goals from set pieces on Saturday – a little bit of naivety on the part of my two centre-halves who have got to be able to be switched on to the block and give themselves two or three yards to deal with it better.

“So we’ve looked at it this week rather than work on it because of the injuries.”

Rovers will have both Lockyer and Sweeney back for the match after the pair returned from international duty. Defender Johnny Burn is a doubt for the game, as is midfielder Stuart Sinclair.

Walsall go into the game having won last time out, at home to newly promoted Plymouth.

The 2-1 home win meant that Walsall are now the side that have the most home victories in League One this calendar year.

Manager Jon Whitney has spoken of the statistic as a major confidence boost ahead of the match on Saturday.

“There is a good feeling in the group and that has been building since the closing stages of pre-season,” Whitney told the Express and Star.

“There is a confidence about the group. They believe in their ability and that we can go out and win every game.

“Bristol Rovers have had an indifferent start. Against Peterborough, they got beat heavily at home.

“Against Fleetwood, they won 3-1 at home. They have got forward players that can really set the place alight.

“They will be really vocal with their home support and they like to play with a real high energy and put you under a lot of pressure.

“But we can go into it with real confidence. It doesn’t matter who we are playing against the lads are buoyant at the moment. I don’t think any team will fancy facing us.”

Walsall will have Shaun Donnellan, Tyler Roberts, Maz Koyhar and Liam Kinsella all back from international duty and also have no new injury worries.

Stats

After 5 matches, Walsall sit tenth place with 8 points with Rovers in 14th on 6 points.

Rovers are winless in their last six meetings with the Saddlers.

The last time these two sides met came earlier this year with Walsall coming out 3-1 winners at the Banks’ Stadium.

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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