It’s derby day in the South West as Bristol Rovers welcome Swindon to the Memorial Stadium looking to build on a dramatic win last time out.
Rovers left it late to win 2-1 at Walsall last weekend and will be coming up against a former manager in the form of Ben Garner when his Swindon side come to BS7.
Gas boss Joey Barton infamously called out predecessors Garner and Paul Tisdale when he joined the club for their ‘negligence’ last season which eventually resulted in Rovers being relegated under Barton.
Speaking in March, shortly after he took over, Barton told BristolLive:
“These lads haven’t had a chance.”
“Whatever has gone before me has been negligent. If they were doctors, they should certainly be struck off for what’s gone on here before, but we can’t do anything about that.
“At some point those coaches will probably want to take me to task on that and I’ll have absolutely no issue in showing them exactly what they got wrong and where they got it wrong, and they’ll be better coaches for it.
“So if they want to get on the phone and have a conversation with me, no problem at all, but the job that’s been done before we got here is negligent and they’ve set these boys up for failure and we’ve got to try to reverse that trend.”
Since this press conference, Garner has gone on to manage Swindon and lead them to 9th place 9 games, losing just two in the process whereas Barton and Rovers find themselves in 18th place.
Barton may opt to play the same side that beat Walsall last time out, though he may be tempted to start match winner Sion Spence after his short but effective cameo.
Swindon go into the game having defied expectations so far this season.
The Robins were tipped by many to be at the wrong end of the table but the change of ownership just before the start of the campaign and the appointment of Garner and Director of Football Ben Chorley has given them a platform to try to bounce back to the third tier at the first time of asking.
Garner has no new injury concerns ahead of the game and could recall Jonny Williams to the side however he may opt to play the same side that drew with Colchester last time out in a performance which ‘thrilled’ the manager.
“The only disappointment was not winning the game,” Garner told the club’s website.
“I thought performance wise we were very, very good and, as an overall performance, it was probably our best of the season.
“I thought the tempo we played at was excellent, we controlled the game, we created opportunities, defensively we restricted to them very little and, if we could have got one, we probably would have got more because they would have had to have come out.
“We’re really pleased with the performance and if we keep performing like that then we’ll win plenty of games.”
Bristol Rovers Predicted XI (3-4-2-1):
Swindon Predicted XI (3-4-1-2): Wollacott (GK); Odimayo, Conroy, Crichlow; Kesler-Hayden, Gladwin, Reed, Iandolo; Payne; Simpson, Gilbert.
Harley and Jack: The Gas 1-0 Swindon Town
Max, Mets and Simon: The Gas 1-0 Swindon Town
Sam: The Gas 2-1 Swindon Town