AFC Wimbledon v Bristol Rovers Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to Kingsmeadow this weekend looking to condemn AFC Wimbledon to a fifth defeat in a row.

Rovers are on an impressive run in contrast to their opponents., winning five out of their last seven matches.

One Rovers man who has missed the run, along with the whole season for that matter, is defender James Clarke, who tore his hamstring in the opening day of the season. Clarke though is now nearing a return and has spoken of his time out on the sidelines.

“I’m back in training, and hopefully back in the mix in the next week or so,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“I tried coming back too early and ended up doing more damage to myself really, which happens. It’s unfortunate when you’re coming back.

“But I’d done it quite bad and needed an operation, it’s been a long road but the medical staff have got me back in training now.

“Straight after the operation, I was in a brace for eight weeks, I couldn’t do anything really, couldn’t go on a bike or anything.

“I had to watch what I ate and drank to keep as fit as I could. It’s a shame really, because we like to rotate the squad and I thought I would have got a lot of minutes.

“I’ve never had an operation before and, touch wood, I won’t have one again. But luckily I’ve come out the end of it all stronger.”

The game this weekend may be too soon for a comeback for the defender, with Rovers’ defensive options, stretched as it is. Captain Tom Lockyer has been out for the last four games, Danny Leadbitter injured his hamstring at Oxford last weekend and defender Lee Brown hobbled off in the 3-2 midweek win over Rochdale.

Striker Ellis Harrison could return for Rovers though, the Welshman was injured at Oxford and missed the win over Rochdale through precaution.

Wimbledon head into the game having dropped into the relegation zone after their four losses on the bounce but coach Simon Bassey has spoken of how they are improving even in defeat.

“We’ve looked back at the defeat at Plymouth and there’s certainly stuff we’ve done well on the night, certainly stuff we need to do better going forward, and getting the balance between the two is something we’ve got to do better,” Bassey told the club’s website.

“We’re all in it together; our results over the last four games haven’t been good enough. Collectively as a squad, as a staff, as one, we have to do better.

“I know Darrell came in at the end of the season when they got relegated and for a club like Bristol Rovers to go in to the conference is certainly not what they’d expect.

Winger Andy Barcham is a doubt for the match after missing Tuesday’s defeat at Plymouth. Midfielder Dean Parrett is back in contention after missing for four months with a groin injury although Centre-back Will Nightingale is out through injury.


The last meeting at Kingsmeadow ended in a Rovers win with Byron Moore scoring after 11 seconds.

The reverse fixture ended in a 3-1 Wimbledon win at the Memorial Stadium in November.

Rovers have only lost two of the 11 meetings between the sides, winning seven and drawing twice.

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