MATCH PREVIEW: Exeter City v Bristol Rovers

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to Devon this weekend to take on Exeter in search of making it two wins from two.

Rovers had lost their opening two league matches but were comfortable victors over Oldham in midweek, although the 1-0 scoreline might not suggest that.

Harvey Saunders’ first half header was enough to separate the two sides in a match where Rovers manager Joey Barton claimed that it could have been 4 or 5-0 by halftime.

“I’m just disappointed we weren’t two, three, four five up in the first half,” Barton told BristolLive after the win.

“We’ve had a couple of really good penalties shouts and some really good opportunities that I’m sure in four, five, six weeks time the players will be sharp and they’ll go in the back of the net.”

“I still think we’re four-five weeks away from really starting to give a consistent performance for 90 minutes and it takes time.

“I’m not even at the end of my first recruitment window and because of the way we’ve nose-dived into the ground at the back end of last season, we’re three league games in and pre-season was worrying.

“We didn’t create a lot pre-season and that came into the season but I think we’re starting to get key components back and I think tonight certainly in the first period we saw the style that we want to play.”

Barton will welcome captain Paul Coutts for the game as the midfielder returns from suspension. Anssi Jaakkola missed the win over Oldham and is a doubt for the weekend’s fixture. Alex Rodman, Aaron Collins and Sam Nicholson all featured in the midweek match and will feature once again.

Exeter go into the game having had a stuttering start to the League Two season.

The Grecians, 20th, have been on the losing side of the League Two play-off final for three of the last five seasons have found themselves without a win from their first four games in all competitions.

Manager Matt Taylor has been speaking with the press praised Saturday’s opposition after scouting them out ahead of the game.

“I’ve watched back their game from Tuesday and they were impressive,” Taylor told the club’s website.

“It’s a lot closer to what their manager wants from them in terms of personnel and playing style.

“We’ve all been a little bit disjointed early on with the transfer window and Covid, but Rovers are a strong team. However we can’t overfocus on the opposition. We’re at home so we want to dictate the play and dictate the game.”

Exeter will welcome back striker Sam Nombe back in the fold following the completion of his Covid isolation period, while Alex Hartridge returned in midweek after also suffering with the virus. Manager Taylor will be without Archie Collins and Josh Coley who continue their recovery from injury.

Lineup Predictions:

Exeter City Predicted XI (3-4-1-2): Dawson (GK); Hartridge, Sweeney, Ray; Caprice, Dieng, Atangana, Key; Jay; Nombe, Amond.

Bristol Rovers Predicted XI (3-4-2-1):

Score Predictions:

Harley, Mets and Sam: Exeter City 0-1 The Gas

Jack: Exeter City 1-1 The Gas

Max and Simon: Exeter City 0-2 The Gas