After a tough start to the League Two campaign, Bristol Rovers will be hoping last weekend’s late away win against Walsall has set them on a better course for the remainder of this season.
Kieran Phillips’ first-half goal looked to consign Joey Barton’s men to another afternoon of misery in the fourth tier, but two late goals sealed a precious win for the Gas who climbed from 22nd to a slightly more comfortable position of 18th.
But this is still a disappointing situation for a side that were competing in League One last term and were expected to be doing slightly better, with manager Barton taking complete control of the club’s recruitment process in the summer and making some smart signings.
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Experiences professionals in Glenn Whelan and Brett Pitman were particularly eye-catching additions, with Stoke City loanee looking set to impress for the remainder of the campaign.
Despite this, both their attack and defence will be a source of concern for Rovers fans at this stage, scoring at a rate of less than a goal per game and conceding 14 times in nine matches.
The former will be a particular focus, because they aren’t going anywhere with that sort of record.
Is it a selection issue, or a change in tactics needed? Or both? Whatever the reason is, they will be hoping to improve going forward tomorrow afternoon against a Swindon Town side currently sitting in the top half of the table.
Who will Barton select ahead of this one then? We have had a go at predicting what his starting 11 for this 3pm clash.
In Anssi Jaakkola’s absence and not even on the bench for Rovers last week, it will be James Belshaw who starts between the sticks again, although this is no big disaster.
The back three also remains the same after only conceding one away from home and staying solid to keep the deficit at one before their late rampage, with Cian Harries not doing much wrong again and earning another start.
Junior Brown comes in on the left side though after making a good impact off the bench against Walsall, as Harry Anderson retains his place on the other flank.
You would back a very experienced central midfield duo in Glenn Whelan and Paul Coutts to help get them up the fourth-tier table, but they need to step up to the plate and show their consistency, because winning that midfield battle will be crucial in lifting themselves up the table.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace loanee Sion Spence wins a spot in the starting lineup after his stoppage-time winner and as an orthodox attacking midfielder, he’s likely to do well alongside Antony Evans.
They line up behind the experienced Brett Pitman who will be chomping at the bit to get on the scoresheet again after scoring just once in six League Two appearances so far this season. With his experience, you would think he would get himself in and amongst the goals at some point in the near future.
Predicted Substitutes: Ward, Anderton, Hoole, Finley, Westbrooke, Saunders, Collins