Blackpool v Bristol Rovers Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to Blackpool this weekend hoping to make it two wins from two in 2018.

Rovers have not played since their New Years Day victory over Portsmouth and have made their first signing of the January window, as well as letting go of one of their star men.

Billy Bodin left to join Championship side Preston North End for an undisclosed fee shortly after the Portsmouth game before forward Bernard Mensah joined the Gas from Aldershot Town this week.

Mensah, 23, said he had a few clubs chasing his signature but when he heard that Rovers were interested, there was only one place he wanted to be.

“I’ve heard the club has fantastic fans, that’s what’s been sold to me and I can’t wait to play in front of them,” Mensah told the club’s website.

“There were a few clubs interested but once I heard Bristol Rovers was one of them I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

“The gaffer at Aldershot played here a few years ago and told me the atmosphere and the fans are unreal.

“I played here myself as well about three years back and saw that from the fans too.”

Mensah will go straight into the squad for the Blackpool game but it is uncertain whether he will start, with manager Darrell Clarke tending to slowly integrate players into the team in the past.

Rovers will be without Johnny Burn after the defender extended his loan at York City until the end of the season. Other than that, Rovers have no fresh injury worries but Danny Leadbitter and James Clarke will miss out.

Blackpool go into the game having had a mixed start to 2018, beating Rochdale on New Years Day before losing to Oxford last weekend.

The Seasiders have conducted some transfer business of their own too, with goalkeeper Joe Lumley, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Rovers, signing on loan until the end of the season.

Pool’s home form this season though has taken a hit with them going seven games without a win at Bloomfield Road, stretching back to the win over Bury in October and manager Gary Bowyer is keen to turn it around this weekend.

“It’s another home game and we know we have to change that record,” Bowyer told the Blackpool Gazette.

“I would argue our performances and form have actually been very impressive, it’s just the results that have not gone our way.

“But we know we have to do everything in our power to change it around.

“Our performance at Oxford was very good last weekend but we can’t just keep saying it, we’ve got to deliver.

“Obviously should you win games then it makes your performance look even better. But we had 60 per cent possession against Oxford.

“We’ve just got to get that mentality of winning games.”

Blackpool will be without Andy Taylor, Mark Cullen and Kyle Vassell who are all still missing with hamstring injuries but Jim McAlister is close to a return to the first team.

Stats

Blackpool’s new recruit Joe Lumley played 19 matches whilst on loan at Rovers last season.

This is the 34th meeting between the two sides, Rovers have won 12, Blackpool have won 13, with there being eight draws.

The reverse fixture earlier this season ended in a 3-1 Rovers win, although Blackpool did take the lead in the match.

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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