MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers v Rochdale

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers welcome Rochdale to the Memorial Stadium this weekend hoping to bounce back to winning ways.

Rovers go into the game having lost to two of the top three in recent weeks, losing 2-0 at league leaders Forest Green before a home defeat to third place Port Vale on Tuesday night.

The league defeat to Vale was soured even more with two dismissals for the Gas. Midfielder Sam Finley was sent off a quarter of an hour in for violent conduct and then defender Cian Harries was shown his marching orders late in the game for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

Both players will miss the game against Dale this weekend meaning that manager Joey Barton has a stretched squad due to injury and suspension and the Rovers boss has spoken of the possible selection headache caused by Rovers’ ill-discipline and the bodies in the physio room.

“Yeah, we’ll figure out something and we’ll have a plan for the game Saturday,” Barton told BristolLive.

“But, I think that’s the compounder, not only do we lose Sam Finley for three games you lose Cian for a few games.

“So, disappointed but again we’ve shot ourselves in the foot tonight. Port Vale, as I say third in the table, that’s the level of the league.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do. I can’t wait for the window to open in January because there’s certainly parts of the pitch where we could do with reinforcements.

“Obviously at this moment in time, we’ve got work to do and the good thing about this league is that everyone can beat everyone and you can get on runs.

“When we stop shooting ourselves in the foot, maybe we’ll be able to do something special.”

With Josh Grant and Alfie Kilgour both out for a number of weeks, Barton’s defensive options are limited meaning young Luca Hoole could start.

Rochdale go into the game looking to bounce back to winning ways themselves.

Dale are also winless in 4 league games and like Rovers, fell to a 2-1 defeat in midweek.

Wednesday’s loss at Hartlepool means that Dale have won just one in their last seven away games.

One man who seems to be an ever present in Robbie Stockdale’s side has been rewarded with a new deal this week.

“Abraham deserves the improved terms and the new contract,” Stockdale told the club’s website.

“I’ve been impressed with his attitude and his willingness to work hard and to get better. There’s a lot of improvement in him, which is exciting, and we’re still working to make him better.

“He’s bought into what we’re trying to do and he has played well enough to get a new deal.

“Ibbi [Abraham] has played significant minutes in the team and he’s playing regular first team football for the first time. He’s enjoying it and the players enjoy playing with him, so he deserves his new deal and hopefully he kicks on from here.

Stockdale has no new injury concerns ahead of the game, with young goalkeeper Brad Wade expected to remain on the bench with Jay Lynch the only fit senior goalkeeper.

Lineup Predictions:

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

Rochdale Predicted XI (3-4-3): Lynch; Taylor, O’Connell, Dorsett; O’Keefe, Kelly, Morley, Done; Andrews, Odoh, Beesley

Score Predictions:

Mets and Sam: The Gas 2-1 Rochdale

Max and Simon: The Gas 1-1 Rochdale