MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers v Northampton Town

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers welcome Northampton Town this weekend hoping to rediscover some home form.

The Gas have been lacklustre on home soil in recent matches but have continued to improve away from the Mem, with a win away at high flying Harrogate in their last league outing.

The win in Yorkshire meant that Rovers stretched their unbeaten away run in the league to four matches. However, at home they have won just one of their last four, losing the other three.

One casualty from the win over Harrogate was striker Brett Pitman hobbling off within 10 minutes with a groin injury. Pitman, Rovers’ top scorer, is expected to be out for a few weeks and he joins Leon Clarke and Harvey Saunders as the front men in the physio room.

Clarke suffered a potentially career ending injury at Hartlepool in September whilst Saunders injured his ankle at Bradford with manager Joey Barton confirming the former Fleetwood man’s length on the sidelines this week.

“At Bradford, Harvey came out of the sky with a bang on the head and we thought it was a concussion, but when he landed he tore his ankle ligaments so he’s going to be 10-12 weeks from that moment,” Barton told BristolLive.

“We thought it was a concussion where he was going to miss a week, but the problem was he landed without any awareness because he was semi-unconscious. As he landed, his ankle flipped.

“He’s in a boot and it’s going to be 10 weeks on the optimistic scale, 12 weeks on the realistic scale.

“It’s a blow. We’ve got Brett (Pitman) out, we’ve got Clarkey (Leon Clarke) out, but the lads are still scrapping and fighting for each other.

“Our teamship and camaraderie are building and Sunday’s result will be another shot in the arm for our confidence.”

With the absentees up front, Barton only has Aaron Collins as a recognised striker fit to play this weekend although he may opt for a makeshift attach with Sam Nicholson and Antony Evans other candidates to start up top for the Gas.

Barton does have Josh Grant and Sam Finley back for Saturday’s game after both came through the FA Cup draw with Oxford unscathed although Luke Thomas is a doubt.

Northampton go into the game having had a strong start to life back in League Two.

The Cobblers, were relegated alongside Rovers last season but have appeared to bounce back, taking 27 points from their opening 15 games propelling them up to third but Manager Jon Brady has said that Saturday’s match at Rovers will provide a stern test for his side.

“They have got some quality players and they have had some really strong results and performances but we are in a good moment and it should be a good test for both teams,” Brady told the club’s website.

“Our away form is strong and we are relishing the challenge of going there to try and get all three points.

“Out of everything the league is the priority for us and that is our main focus but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to progress in the FA Cup.

“We’ve got our targets in the league and we know what we want to achieve. That has been the main focus for us as a group in the first third of the season and now we move into the next third.”

Brady has no new injury concerns for the trip to Bristol which means former Rovers man Ali Koiki could feature against his former club.

Lineup Predictions:

Bristol Rovers Predicted XI (5-3-2):

Northampton Town Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Liam Roberts (GK); Dominic Revan, Fraser Horsfall, Jon Guthrie, Ali Koiki; Shaun McWilliams, Jack Sowerby; Sam Hoskins, Paul Lewis, Mitch Pinnock; Kion Etete.

Score Predictions:

Mets and Simon: The Gas 1-1 Northampton Town

Max: The Gas 0-0 Northampton Town