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Opposition profile: Bristol Rovers

15 December 2021

As we prepare to take on Bristol Rovers in our first home game for three weeks this Saturday, we take a look at the campaign to date for Joey Barton's squad.

SEASON SO FAR

The Pirates enter the weekend sitting 15th in the division, having won seven (two of the victories on the road), lost nine and drawn five games.

They have won two of their last three matches, having seen off both Sutton United (2-1) and Rochdale (4-2) at home recently.

Previous successes came against Oldham Athletic (1-0), Crawley Town (1-0), Walsall (2-1), Carlisle United (3-0), Harrogate Town (1-0) and Northampton Town (2-1).

LAST TIME OUT

Aaron Collins netted twice as Bristol Rovers beat Rochdale 4-2 in a League Two thriller at the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers went ahead in the 10th minute when Antony Evans curled a sweet free-kick beyond the reach of Jay Lynch from 20 yards after a foul by Eoghan O'Connell on Collins.

The hosts increased their lead in the 51st minute through a 25-yard rocket from Collins. But Rochdale replied nine minutes later when Jake Beesley flicked home a Corey O'Keeffe cross.

Beesley equalised from the penalty spot in the 66th minute after being brought down by Rovers substitute Pablo Martinez.

But Harry Anderson restored the home side's lead in the 84th minute, firing home after a one-two with Evans, and Collins notched his second five minutes later with a cool finish from substitute Luke Thomas' pass.

Both sides created plenty of chances in an entertaining clash, Lynch saving well from Trevor Clarke in the first half and Rovers goalkeeper James Belshaw denying Beesley and Jim McNulty in quick succession after the break.



THE MANAGER

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Bristol Rovers announced the appointment of Joey Barton as first team manager in February this year.

Barton joined the Gas following a short spell away from the dugout after parting company with Fleetwood Town earlier in the 2020-21 campaign.

In his time in Lancashire, Barton demonstrated continual improvement in league finishes, first finishing 11th with his side, before securing a play-off spot in the shortened 2019-20 campaign.

Despite being beaten in the play-off semi-final in the 2019-20 season, Barton's Fleetwood side responded well, again in the mix for the playoffs the following year before Barton parted company with the club.

The former midfielder's footballing pedigree speaks for itself, beginning his career with Manchester City before permanent spells at Newcastle United, QPR, Burnley and Rangers. Barton also made an appearance for the England national team in 2007.

TOP SCORER

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Summer signing Aaron Collins is leading marksman with five goals to his name so far this term.

Collins began his youth career with the Pirates before making a switch to Newport County.

After progressing well through the ranks in South Wales, Collins secured a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers but struggled to adapt to life at Molineux, prompting multiple loan moves.

In January 2019, Collins left Wolves in search of pastures new, and linked up with Morecambe, scoring eight goals in fifteen league matches to end the season well.

This form secured a return to the South West through Forest Green Rovers, where Collins spent the previous two seasons. There, he found the net on 14 occasions.

He is followed by Antony Evans, Brett Pitman and Sam Nicholson (all on four).

FAMILAR FACES

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Iron fans will recognise Junior Brown from his two spells with us during the last two seasons, but he hasn't featured for Rovers since October, having made six appearances. He has been out with a thigh injury.

Meanwhile, Leon Clarke enjoyed a very prolific loan stay in the 2012-13 campaign and made two appearances in September after signing, scoring the winner against Crawley Town on his debut. However, he's been ruled out since the following game with a hamstring injury.

THE SQUAD

NO NAME POSITION AGE PREVIOUS CLUB LG APPS (GOALS)
1 James Belshaw GK 31 Harrogate 19 (0)
3 Mark Hughes DF 35 Accrington 6 (0)
4 Josh Grant MF 23 Chelsea 12 (2)
5 Alfie Kilgour DF 23 None 10 (1)
6 Sam Finley MF 29 Fleetwood 15 (1)
7 Luke Thomas MF 22 Barnsley (loan) 14 (0)
8 Zain Westbrooke MF 25 Coventry 3 (0)
9 Leon Clarke FW 36 Shrewsbury 2 (1)
10 Aaron Collins FW 24 Forest Green 20 (3)
11 Sam Nicholson MF 26 Colorado Rapids 15 (4)
15 Paul Coutts MF 33 Fleetwood 17 (0)
16 Nick Anderton DF 25 Carlisle 18 (1)
17 Connor Taylor DF 20 Stoke City (loan) 18 (1)
18 Pablo Martinez DF 21 West Brom 1 (0)
19 Harry Anderson MF 24 Lincoln 20 (2)
20 Trevor Clarke DF 23 Rotherham 4 (0)
21 Antony Evans MF 23 Paderborn 16 (3)
22 Harvey Saunders FW 24 Fleetwood 12 (2)
24 Sion Spence MF 21 Crystal Palace (loan) 6 (1)
25 Cian Harries DF 24 Burnley 14 (1)
26 Glenn Whelan MF 37 Fleetwood 15 (0)
32 Anssi Jaakkola GK 34 Reading 2 (0)
33 Alex Rodman MF 34 Shrewsbury 4 (0)
35 Jed Ward GK 18 None 0 (0)
39 Junior Brown DF 32 Crewe 6 (0)
40 Brett Pitman FW 33 Swindon 14 (4)

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