Bristol Rovers v Shrewsbury Town Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers entertain high flying Shrewsbury this weekend hoping to extend their unbeaten run in 2018.

Rovers are six unbeaten now stretching back to Boxing Day and also won three out of their four fixtures in January but manager Darrell Clarke has spoken of his side being the underdogs this weekend against an ‘overachieving’ Shrewsbury side.

“I think Paul Hurst is manager of the season so far,” Clarke told the club’s YouTube channel.

“They’re one of the teams that are massively over-achieving, a lot of sides in our league are underachieving with the teams that have spent a hell of a lot of money and got nowhere.

“He’s one of those in the bracket that’s overachieving and doing great.

“They’re a real tough side to beat, he’s got a good side there. An impressive away record too, it’ll be a tough test.”

Rovers will have new signings Tony Craig and Kyle Bennett available for selection after the pair arrived on free transfers the day after deadline day. Darrell Clarke may also be able to call on captain Tom Lockyer after the defender missed last week’s win over Doncaster.

Shrewsbury go into the game continuing to surprise people, sitting in third after nearly 30 games when many had tipped them for relegation at the start of the campaign.

Like Rovers, Shrewsbury have won three out of their last five and manager Paul Hurst is looking forward to the clash at the Memorial Stadium.

“It’s a tough away trip, so it’s good to get back thinking about what happens on the grass and on the training ground ahead of Saturday’s game,” Hurst told the club’s website.

“I think they maybe went through a difficult period, but I think they’ve come through that now and they are starting to really climb the table and are in good form.

“It’s always difficult going there. They get well supported, a big crowd and play with lots of energy. Darrell’s not frightened of changing the team around both in personnel and formation.

“I watched their game against Doncaster and he changes it round quite a lot within that game, so it’s one that can be relatively difficult to prepare for.

“But, we’ve got to go there and be at our best, be strong, be physical, be up for the game and give everything to try and go away with a positive result.”

Paul Hurst could new signings of his own. Winger Nathan Thomas has arrived on loan from Sheffield United, with midfielder’s Sam Jones and Abo Eisa coming in from Grimsby and Wealdstone respectively.

Craig MacGillivray should continue in goal as Dean Henderson is serving a three-match ban.

Stats

The reverse fixture between these two sides ended in a 4-0 Shrewsbury thumping in October last year.

The last meeting between these two sides at the Memorial Stadium ended in a 2-0 Rovers win in April 2017.

Rovers famously beat Shrewsbury in the 2006/07 League Two Play-Off final to clinch promotion to League On

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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