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29 December 2022 Venue Memorial Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview - Rovers v Exeter

28 December 2022

Our final game of 2022 awaits!

Rovers are back at The Mem tomorrow evening as we prepare to face Gary Caldwell's Exeter City under the lights. The Gas will be looking to bounce back from our Boxing Day defeat at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers and close the gap on those sides in the play-off places. In our last meeting with tomorrow's opponents, a 2-2 draw back in October, Ryan Loft was the hero as his late goal secured a point for Rovers. 

Manager Preview

Joey Barton has said that he expects a tough test from Gary Caldwell's side tomorrow evening and has expressed the importance of bouncing back from our Boxing Day defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.

"Gary Caldwell's gone in there and kept the group together. I think the team is embedded, he's tried to add a little bit more possession to them and we know from our skirmishes with them over the last couple of years that they are a very good side. 

We want to bounce back and close the gap on the teams in the playoff picture. The upcoming home game against Exeter is the perfect opportunity to do that, but if we're not absolutely on it for ninety-plus minutes, like we saw at Wycombe, players can take the game away from you at this level."


Previous Encounter

Opposition View

Exeter defender, Pierce Sweeney has said that the Grecians will be targeting the three points against Rovers tomorrow evening.

"It's a game we will be looking to win and have to go there with confidence again.

It's a bit of a derby and is local, just an hour up the road so I'm sure we will take over 1000 fans and they will have a full house so it's a game we will be looking to win.

We've got to go there with confidence again. One thing we have been lacking this season is consistency with our performances so quite good that we have three games in a week to put three back-to-back good performances in and try and get some good results."


Form Guide

Exeter are currently in 13th place in the League One standings with a 28-point return from their 23 league games so far this season. Across their last five league outings, Exeter have picked up points against Morecambe, Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth whilst losing to Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers. 

Jevani Brown is the danger man for the Grecians. The Jamaican has scored nine goals in League One so far this season whilst also setting up eight goals for his teammates. Sam Nombe is in close second with eight league goals for Exeter. Jake Caprice scored Exeter's last goal in the league in the Grecians' 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday at St. James Park. 



Rovers are in our third strip for tomorrow's fixture, with our visitors, Exeter City, sporting their third kit to support Shelter's #NoHomeKit campaign. To find out more about Shelter, please click HERE.

We encourage Rovers supporters to wear either our away kit or third kit tomorrow evening in support of the #NoHomeKit campaign.


How to Watch

Haven't been able to secure a ticket for tomorrow's SOLD OUT clash at The Mem?

Don't worry as iFollow has got you covered! Match passes cost £10 with the majority of the revenue generated coming back to the club.

To find out more about iFollow, please click HERE.


Ref Watch

Simon Mather is the referee for tomorrow evening's clash in BS7. Mather has taken charge of six League One games so far this season. Across those six games, Mather has produced an average of 4.00 yellow cards per game whilst his average for fouls given per game stands at 20.67. 

Referee Mather's last match in League One was Port Vale's 1-0 win over Morecambe on Boxing Day. In that game, Mather handed out a total of five yellow cards (2x Port Vale, 3x Morecambe) and also showed a red card to Morecambe defender Donald Love for a second bookable offence. 


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Match Reports

Match Report - Rovers 3-4 Exeter

29 December 2022

Rovers and Exeter played out a remarkable game to see out 2022, with the visitors running out 4-3 winners.

The Gas had turned round a two-goal deficit to lead 3-2, thanks to goals from Collins, Coburn and a Sinclair penalty, only for the visitors to come back and snatch the points.

Rovers had made three changes to the starting XI following the defeat at Wycombe - Sinclair, Connolly and Marquis were replaced by Loft, Gordon and Finley. Harry Anderson made a welcome return to the matchday squad.

There was an early penalty shout for the Gas as Coburn tumbled to the floor under a Sparkes challenge, but referee Mather waved away the protests.

Rovers, wearing their away shirt of black and mint, with home shorts and socks, in support of housing charity Shelter, fell a goal behind in the 13th minute as arch-assister Jevani Brown set up Nombe, who curled expertly beyond the diving Belshaw.

Belshaw had to be alert two minutes later as he parried Nombe's shot and Gordon completed the clearance.

Even better was to come from the number one in the 18th minute as he flew across his line to flick Nombe's goalbound header behind for a corner. 

Rovers had started the game slowly, and took the opportunity to run to manager Barton for a regroup on the sidelines whilst Exeter's Hartridge received treatment.

Collins saw yellow for simulation in the 25th minute as the referee deemed him to have dived as he latched on to a Thomas through ball.

Sweeney fouled Loft a minute later to present the Gas with a decent position for a free-kick. Evans delivered deep but Thomas couldn't get a touch on it and the visitors remained untroubled at the back.

Rovers continued to be on the wrong of the decisions as Coburn was alleged to have fouled an Exeter defender as he ran clear. 

Ryan Loft was then wrestled to the floor but, again, the referee refused to be swayed and the home crowd turned on the official, making for a raucous atmosphere at Rovers' first home evening match of the season.

Diabate was booked for fouling Loft on the edge of the box in the 40th minute. Evans' tame free-kick hit the wall but, from the rebound, the Gas almost equalised, as Collins' close-range header brought a fine save from Blackman.

Caprice was next in the book for time-wasting as he dallied over taking a throw-in in the 45th minute.

In first-half injury time, the visitors doubled their lead after a loose pass from Evans was punished by Archie Collins, who fired home along the ground past an unsighted Belshaw.

Joey Barton responded at half-time by making three substitutions, with Connolly, Sinclair and Anderson replacing Evans, Gordon and Hoole.

Also not coming out for the second half was the away shirt, with the Gas reverting to the more familiar blue and white.

Sinclair was soon in the action, getting to the byline and lofting a ball that had to be scrambled away by the visitors. 

From nowhere, the Gas were back in the game. Collins picked up the ball on the edge of the box in the 57th minute and lashed home to halve the deficit.

Brown was booked a minute later for kicking the ball away.

The Grecians wasted two glorious chances to go two goals ahead again, with both Jay and Sweeney shooting wide of the target.

Collins was a man on a mission now after the forward sent in a peach of a cross that Coburn bundled home from close range to make it two apiece in the 64th minute.

Anderson then brought a booking for Sparkes, with the Exeter left-back forced into a shirt pull. Collins was brought down by his namesake, with the Exeter player shown a yellow card in the 71st minute.

The Gas were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute after Collins' run was brought to a crude halt and Scott Sinclair stepped up to slam home the spot-kick.

The Gas were rampant now and, if Coburn was a few inches taller he'd have headed home Finley's clipped cross. Marquis was then presented with a glorious opportunity to settle the game in the 78th minute, as Diabate inexplicably passed the ball straight to him. Blackman saved the defender's blushes. 

At the other end, a brilliant Gibson block deflected the ball onto the bar and behind for a corner as the visitors looked to level the scores.

They did make it three-all as substitute Dieng headed in from close range after 83 minutes. Both sides then went for broke, with Stansfield blazing wide of an empty net after rounding Belshaw.

Exeter then went back in front in the final minute as Nombe headed over a stranded Belshaw, who had raced from his line in an effort to intercept a pass. Stansfield wasted a one-on-one chance to make it five in the dying moments, but the visitors held on to claim the points and make it two defeats on the bounce for Rovers.

Next up for Rovers is the visit of Cheltenham Town to The Mem on New Years Day (3pm).

BRISTOL ROVERS: Belshaw, Gordon, Finley, Collins, Coutts, Gibson, Loft, Evans, Hoole, Thomas, Coburn.

Subs: Jaakkola, Connolly, Sinclair, Marquis, Anderson, Whelan, Gibbons.

EXETER CITY: Blackman, Caprice, Sparkes, Hartridge, Jay, Collins, Nombe, Kite, Brown, Sweeney, Diabate.

Subs: Lee, Harper, Stansfield, Key, Dieng, Chauke, Grounds.

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 9,735 (1,167 away)

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