MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers vs AFC Wimbledon

Bristol Rovers will be looking to impress new manager Ben Garner when they entertain AFC Wimbledon at the Memorial Stadium on Boxing Day.

Rovers are Garner’s first job in management after the 39 year old penned a two and a half year deal with the Gas.

Garner watched on iFollow as 4th place Rovers extended their unbeaten run to 12 games, drawing 0-0 with Peterborough on Saturday.

In his first interview since joining Rovers, Garner has spoken about the step up from coaching and how he thinks that he will find it.

“It’s a step that I’m ready for,” Garner said.

“I’ve had some great mentors, worked with some great people and wonderful players and I’ve worked hard to get to this point.

“This is something I want to do for the next 20/25 years. There’s been a lot of people (to shape me), worked with Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Steve Coppell, Ian Holloway.

“I’ve taken ideas that I like and I’ve seen ideas that I won’t like. I’ve got my own principles and ideas.”

Garner will have Mark Little, Abu Ogogo and Jonson Clarke-Harris all in contention for the match. Little and Ogogo both failed late fitness tests against Posh but Clarke-Harris managed to play 40 minutes in the goalless draw. Josh Hare, Tom Davies and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis all remain out.

Wimbledon meanwhile go into the game having had an inconsistent first half of the season, sitting 19th in the table, with them sitting just three points above the relegation zone.

The Dons’ suspended and later sacked manager Wally Downes after he was charged by the Football Association over bets placed on games.

Since then, Wimbledon have appointed caretaker boss Glyn Hodges on a full-time basis but since the appointment, they have remained inconsistent in the league.

The Dons have played six league games since the permanent appointment of Hodges and his assistant Nick Daws, winning, drawing and losing two of them.

Speaking after the defeat at Tranmere last time out, Hodges told the club’s website about how his side should’ve came away with at least a draw.

“We probably should have done more in the first-half, but in the second-half we had chances,” Hodges said.

“We got bodies forward and balls were rolled across the box that you expect someone to finish. I was disappointed that we did not get the goal and maybe if we had got one we would have got another, but we’ve been beaten.

“I had said at half-time that I didn’t think we gambled anywhere. We didn’t gamble in the midfield in trying to win the knock downs and the next balls. They dominated us in the first-half and their long balls were therefore causing us problems.

“They were knocking balls in behind. The message at half-time was to gamble in possession more, to gamble where the ball was going to land, and to get closer to people. We did that, but it wasn’t to be and we couldn’t get the goal.”

Hodges has no new injury concerns for the Boxing Day fixture but defender Will Nightingale remains out with a hip injury.

Rovers won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Kingsmeadow – Abu Ogogo, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Tony Craig the goal scorers for the Gas.

Bristol Rovers Predicted XI
AFC Wimbledon Predicted XI