The Insider: Early season worries have resurfaced for Bristol Rovers ahead of Portsmouth's visit

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Bristol Live sports editor, James Piercy, gives the lowdown on Pompey’s next League One opponents Bristol Rovers…

The start to the season for Bristol Rovers has been a bit of a strange one.

It’s been positive overall, but things seem to have come in waves.

The first few weeks of the campaign were not the best.

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But there was a turn in fortune after manager Graham Coughlan switched the system and went with wing-backs.

They then embarked on an unbeaten run from September until mid-October on the back of that.

The team were playing well in that period and looked solid at the back.

Prolific forward Jonson Clarke-Harris was banging them in during that period.

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Former Pompey defender Tom DaviesFormer Pompey defender Tom Davies
Former Pompey defender Tom Davies | Getty Images

But injuries to both him and wing-back Josh Hare, who arrived from Eastleigh in the summer, halted the form.

There was some concern after a defeat at Doncaster earlier this month.

The lack of goal threat was evident without Clarke-Harris.

That defeat was then followed by the home loss to Bolton on Tuesday, which was the worst performance of the season.

On the back of a bad start this term and the positive reaction that followed, it will be interesting to see the response in the weeks to come.

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All the worries that were there back in August seemed to have resurfaced after successive defeats.

There is no doubt most of the supporters would admit climbing up to fourth earlier this season was probably an over achievement.

That’s not a fair reflection of where the team are.

At the same time, no team wants to go on a slide of four or five bad results.

Not all of the Rovers faithful have taken to Graham Coughlan since he took charge.

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He’s everything that Darrell Clarke, who was a bit of a club legend, wasn’t.

Coughlan was a defensive coach in Clarke’s backroom team before making the step up.

When Rovers are winning it all seems to be fine, yet as soon as a bad result arrives the mood seems to change quite drastically.

It just seems an extreme swing of opinion surfaces straight away.

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Coughlan has tightened things up defensively, having been forced to reshuffle his back line after summer departures.

Ex-Pompey centre-back Tom Davies has been an ever-present and is playing very well.

Academy graduate Alfie Kilgour is another to have slotted in well at the back.

The 18-year-old plays on the left-side of the three across the back line and is strong in the air.

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On-loan Sheffield United talent Tyler Smith missed out from the start in the defeat to Bolton.

But the young and raw forward could come back in against Pompey.

You can see he has come from a Premier League academy and is one to look out for.

Given the overall context at this moment, a draw against Kenny Jackett’s men would not be a bad result.

The main goal threat in Clarke-Harris is still out for a couple more weeks.

It’s important he has a foundation to work from when he does come back, rather than being a saviour to turn things around.

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