Pompey v Bristol Rovers: the opposition view

Bristol Rovers summer signing Liam Sercombe  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Bristol Rovers summer signing Liam Sercombe Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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It has been a tale of inconsistency for Rovers this season, failing to even draw a match.

Instead, there have been four wins and five defeats in League One, to leave them positioned 14th – one place above Pompey.

Darrell Clarke tends to go for a win, sometimes at the cost of losing the game.

Still, they head to Fratton Park tonight on the back of a 3-1 victory over Blackpool at the weekend, ending a run of three successive defeats in all competitions.

It has been a little bit frustrating, playing really well in patches but conceding silly goals – notably 19 in the league. Only Oldham have conceded more and they are currently bottom.

On the flip side of that, Clarke’s side also possess plenty of goals, giving it a real good go at getting the ball forward.

Their defensive issues reflect a very similar problem this time last year, although Rovers got their act together approaching the end of the season.

Of course, struggling to name a consistent back line hasn’t helped, with suspensions at various times to Sam Slocombe, Ryan Sweeney and last weekend Tom Lockyer. In fact, skipper Lockyer was absent from the win over Blackpool.

Having finished 10th last term, at the start of this season a lot of people were looking at Rovers to squeeze into the top six.

It’s a realistic ambition, yet they subsequently have not shown they are quite ready. You cannot rule it out, though.

Following successive promotions, last season couldn’t yield a third, although hopes of making the play-offs were there until two games from the end. There were never any relegation concerns.

The close season saw eight signings made and quite a few of those are playing regularly in the side at present.

Liam Sercombe, who arrived from Oxford United, has settled in really, really well and is a good player. Marc Bola has also proven a good recruit on loan from Arsenal.

But Billy Bodin has been the stand-out player, a left-footed right-winger who, with seven goals, is the top scorer.

In July, Rovers paid a fee to Peterborough for Tom Nichols, but he has yet to score in 12 appearances, despite playing quite well. He has been pretty lively, hitting the post a couple of times, but just cannot get a goal.

Rovers still need a bit more depth, with only 17 senior players to pick from on Saturday, and I am sure that will be rectified in January.