Our first visit to the Memorial Stadium in over five years...
Goal difference is all that separates Bristol Rovers and Walsall heading into early-season encounter. Both teams have started slowly and currently occupy the two positions immediately above the relegation zone. The Saddlers remain winless since the opening day and have still yet to score an away goal. Darren Clarke’s Rovers, who secured back-to-back promotions last season, have won just one league game – the same as Walsall – and have drawn their last two matches. Walsall hammered the Pirates 6-1 when the teams last met in January 2011.
Bristol Rovers: 19th – P5 W1 D2 L2 F7 A9 PTS5
Walsall: 20th – P6 W1 D2 L3 F7 A10 PTS5
10th September – Bristol Rovers 2-2 Rochdale – League One
Matty Taylor’s spectacular second-half equaliser rescued Rovers a battling point against ten-man Rochdale. Callum Camps put Dale in front, only for Taylor to equalise four minutes later. Ian Henderson restored the visitors’ lead almost immediately, but Taylor’s acrobatic scissor-kick earned the Pirates a draw. Niall Canavon was dismissed for Rochdale late on.
10th September – Northampton 2-0 Walsall – League One
A Matt Taylor header and an Alex Revell penalty earned unbeaten Northampton victory and condemned Walsall to a third defeat in four League One matches. Amadou Bakayoko and Scott Laird had the Saddlers’ best chances in the first half.
Bristol Rovers wins: 38
Walsall wins: 36
29th January 2011 – Walsall 6-1 Bristol Rovers - League One
The Saddlers went goal crazy the last time we faced Bristol Rovers in January 2011 – winning 6-1 to move off the bottom of League One. Andy Butler’s 17th-minute header set us on our way, with further strikes from Matthew Gill and Julian Gray making it 3-0 before half-time. Jeff Hughes pulled one back in the second half, but goals from Matt Richards, Alex Nicholls and another Butler header completed the rout.
Bristol Rovers Manager: Darrell Clarke
The 38-year-old has led Rovers to back-to-back promotions from the Conference Premier to League One, and boasts an impressive 50% win ratio from his 118 games at the helm. Clarke’s previous managerial experience came in non-league with Salisbury, whom he guided to promotion from the Southern League Premier Division in 2010/11 and the Conference South two years later.
Bristol Rovers Star Man: Matty Taylor
The prolific 26-year-old striker has plundered 53 goals in 107 appearances for the Pirates since signing from Forest Green in July 2014. He netted 28 times last season as Rovers won promotion and was named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year. Taylor has scored five goals already in 2016/17 – including two against Rochdale on Saturday.
James O’Connor, Isaiah Osbourne and Florent Cuvelier are all out.
Based in Wiltshire, Malone has officiated 10 matches so far this term, brandishing 33 yellow cards and one red. He has not taken charge of a Walsall match since January 2015 – a 2-0 win at Colchester.
If you are not attending the game, make sure you tune into Saddlers Player HD
for full uninterrupted commentary at www.player.saddlers.co.uk
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