Manager Preview: Matt Taylor on Lincoln City, clean-sheets and opportunities


Matt Taylor has challenged his Bristol Rovers squad to consider each game an opportunity as the Gas prepare for Saturday’s trip to Lincoln City.

Rovers make the trip to the LNER Stadium this weekend, a second away trip of the week after a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood Town on Tuesday.

Manager Taylor was delighted with his side’s defensive resiliency and desire to keep a clean-sheet at Highbury Stadium, and wants to see the same from Rovers once again on the road as they take on a Lincoln side that are currently the in-form team in Sky Bet League One. 

Taylor also offered an update on his squad’s fitness, discussed the talent in his young defence, and emphasised his belief that every match is an opportunity for players to show their ability when he spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s fixture…


There are potentially one or two knocks from Tuesday. 

We’ll find out more in the next 24 hours, but there’s very little when the boys get home in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It was a full-blooded affair at Fleetwood Town and, as expected, there are a couple that we have to be sensible with in terms of bodies and energy going into the weekend.


There is so much to play for. 

Personal pride is a really big one. What you want to achieve as an individual in the game trumps absolutely everything, regardless of what people’s situations are at the end of the season. 

I always say that every game is an opportunity. Tuesday’s game was a big opportunity and Saturday’s at Lincoln City is even bigger because it will be a different type of game against a team who are in fantastic form. It will be a real test. 




The desire to keep clean-sheets is within our players. 

They might be valuing it a bit more now, and we discuss it at length in meetings and during training. We’ve shifted the focus in terms of what we’re doing on the training pitch. We could look like the best footballing team in the league but it’s relevant if we’re goals down, chasing a game, and being leaky. 

We’ve not mastered it but we feel we’ve taken steps in the right direction, in terms of the intent of the team. We’re understanding, as a group, what a clean-sheet can get you. I think the skill set within our group shows better when we’re not chasing a game.


We’ve got a defence that can be a foundation we build on over a long time. 

Jed Ward is such a young goalkeeper and he’ll need different experiences over the next 18-24 months to get him closer to being a recognised first-team goalkeeper, but he’s doing that with us on the job and doing fantastically well. 




It’s the same for Connor Taylor, and Elkan Baggott with the experience he’s getting on loan. Lewis Gordon and Luca Hoole too, there’s an energetic aspect to our defence; one we can mould, shift and improve. Their bandwidth is great too and that excites you as a manager, in terms of where you can see them in 12 months’ time and even further down the line. 


Lincoln City are in fantastic form.

In some ways, it makes my team talk easier. I think their scorelines in the last few games is enough. They are a team who are free-flowing, free-scoring, and in fantastic form, and really bright in terms of how they’re playing so we’ll have to be at our best on Saturday. 

The way I think the game will look will hopefully suit us. We will need energy to match them and to implement our style on the game. It will be a great game to look forward to.

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