Friday, 1 November 2013

PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers Home (02/11/13)

Table-topping Oxford look to build a lead at the top of League Two as struggling Bristol Rovers come to the Kassam. Rovers haven't won away from home all season and currently find themselves just two places and one point above the relegation zone, having endured a miserable season so far. And while our home form isn't exactly sparkling, we have to look at this game as a great opportunity to build on last week's win at AFC Wimbledon.

Bristol Rovers are currently winless in nine league games, a run which stretches back to August, though they did earn a point against Chesterfield last week. Injuries have plagued the Gas this season, a problem manager John Ward has looked to address this week by signing striker Chris Beardsley from Preston. He looks set to go straight into the Pirates' starting XI this weekend but who will partner him up front seems to be up for grabs. Matt Harrold's chances of playing are rated as '50/50' while David Clarkson is suspended after being red-carded a couple of weeks ago.

In contrast, Oxford will be boosted by the returns of several important players. Deane Smalley came off the bench to play a big part last week and could start as a result, while Dave Kitson is back from suspension following his sending off against Exeter. Could James Constable be dropped to the bench, despite finding the net last weekend? Alfie Potter is also back from injury this week after being ruled out by a hamstring problem in recent weeks, providing a feast of attacking options after last week's famine. Chris Wilder does have one problem position, however, after Tom Newey picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last Saturday. And with Jon Meades still injured it leaves us looking very light at left-back. But with Johnny Mullins returning at centre-back and both Jake Wright and Michael Raynes looking undroppable might we see a return to three at the back in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation? Time will tell.

Underestimate Bristol Rovers at your peril. The Pirates started last season in similarly disastrous fashion but finished the season strongly as the league's form side – and they demonstrated how difficult they can be on their last visit to the Kassam Stadium. Then, the tables were reversed as an in-form Bristol Rovers arrived to face a hopelessly out-of-form United and duly took the three points with a comfortable 2-0 victory. There are few predicting a repeat of that this time around but League Two has been so ridiculously topsy-turvy this season that anything could happen.

From the Vaults

Oxford United v Bristol Rovers, 10th August 2010

Oxford returned to action in the League Cup after a four-year absence with a bang, putting six past League One Bristol Rovers in our first home game of the season. Simon Heslop and James Constable each netted twice, while Matt Green and Jack Midson were also on target. Enjoy!

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in the VIDEO VAULT!

Also This Weekend

It's not just the first team currently topping their league. The youth team are at it too and they're back in league action this weekend at home to Hereford United after Wednesday's comfortable 3-0 win over Didcot in the FA Youth Cup. They've already been beaten once by the Bulls this season, 4-2 in the League Cup, so will be eager for the chance of revenge this time out. The match kicks off at 11 at Roman Way so there's plenty of time to get down to the Kassam once it's over if you fancy a full day of football.

Don't forget you can find full fixture lists for women's, development and youth teams on our Fixtures page!

Share this


Post a Comment