Arab boys at sport
OK, before the REAL season starts, we have an EFL Trophy (Michael Mouse) cup fixture to fulfil - a trip to the Memorial Stadium at Horfield, Bristol, to take on The Gas in Southern Group “D”. The other two clubs in this group are Oxford United and Chelsea’s U-21 side.
Rovers have had quite a busy pre-season, producing the following results:-
Newport County 1 Bristol Rovers 1 (21st August)
Bristol Rovers 3 Forest Green 4 (22nd August)
Cheltenham Town 0 Bristol Rovers 2 (25th August)
Ipswich Town 3 Bristol Rovers 0 (5th September - EFL Cup 1st round)
It’s difficult to judge the above performances, not knowing the relative strengths of teams put out for pre-season friendlies, but last Saturday’s defeat at Ipswich was sustained by what is probably Rovers’ first choice selection, and that included ex-Saddler Luke Leahy (squad number 3) playing in a left midfield role. There are, of course, managerial connections between the two clubs - Darrell Clarke was Rovers’ manager for four years up to 2018, and previous managers have included Kevan Broadhurst (Joint caretaker manager 2004) and Ray Graydon (2002-04).
No doubt Darrell Clarke will want to make a decent showing against his previous club, so we should see a strong Saddlers’ team selected for this game. Following the showing against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday our defence looks pretty settled, but he may opt to tinker with his strikeforce as goalscoring seems to pose some unanswered questions at this stage.
Prediction? Who can say … But bearing in mind our acceptable away showings for much of last season I think this could well result in a 1-1 scoreline - Eli to get ours.