Friday, September 28, 2012

Exeter City (nPower League Two)

Derek Riordan should be a part of the Rovers squad
Next up for a revitalised Bristol Rovers is a difficult trip to Exeter City and St. James' Park. The Devonians have begun the new season well after a productive summer of recruitment and will be looking to get back to winning ways after a 2-1 loss at Southend United last week. Paul Tisdale's men are always well organised and with flair players like Alan Gow and Guillem Bauza back from injury they're likely to be a nuisance going forward. It'll be a stern test for our new look central defensive partnership of Tom Parkes and Garry Kenneth but one they'll be looking forward to after impressive displays against Plymouth Argyle and Fleetwood Town.

It will be a different back four to the one that began at the Mem last weekend though with right back Michael Smith on compassionate leave following the tragic death of his father. Adam Virgo is likely to deputise although Jim Paterson may be an option should Mark McGhee prefer to retain an attacking threat from the right. Aside from that the only selection headache McGhee has is who to start up front. David Clarkson has looked sharper in recent matches and Joe Anyinsah impressed against the Cod Army before being substituted. Talented Eliot Richards seems to be experiencing a lack of form and appears almost certain to start on the bench following the arrivals of Derek Riordan and Tom Eaves yesterday. My gut instinct leans me towards thinking that Clarky will be partnered with Anyinsah again from the start before one or both of our new boys get a run out from the bench. Having said that McGhee may be tempted to give Riordan a start before replacing him when his legs tire or even give Eaves a go with his obvious aerial threat. It'll be interesting to see who leads the line!

Oli Norburn should retain place
Loanee Neil Etheridge will continue between the sticks, surely buoyed by his debut clean sheet, and both Fabian Broghammer and Oliver Norburn seem certain starters in midfield. Both young players have played well in their recent starts and have justified the faith put in them by McGhee. After the dominant display the team put in last week it would be cruel to drop either of them, particularly as they bring a creativity to the team that is lacking elsewhere.

Our strike-force will be coming up against a Grecians defence that will be familiar to all Gasheads. Their centre back pairing of Danny Coles and Pat Baldwin ensures we will come up against experienced former Rovers players, whilst there are other player links on both sides. Exeter striker Jamie Cureton will need no introduction as he was a fans favourite in his time at the club over a decade ago and the same may be said of our captain Matt Gill, who was part of the Exeter team that rose from the Conference a few years ago. Injured Danny Woodards is another former Exeter player but he won't feature as he's still not fully fit following the nasty broken leg he sustained on the final day of last season at Dagenham & Redbridge. The final links come from the touchline as development coach Marcus Stewart goes back to the club he left over the summer and former Rovers stalwart Andy Tillson faces us as a member of Tisdale's backroom team. Blimey, there's quite a few ties between the clubs isn't there?!

Sentiment will be put to one side though come 3pm as Rovers look to record their first victory of the season. A large travelling support will descend on Exeter hoping to roar their team on to a much needed 3 points whilst the local derby feel will entice a few fair-weathered Exeter supporters to the game too. It should be a cracker and whilst it is easy to get caught up in the optimism that has been created following our exciting day yesterday, there must now be genuine confidence within the squad that we can be a force this season. Let's take this momentum and ensure we come out on top as we head in to a busy 7 days in League Two.

Up the Gas!

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