Taylor: The lads have put some real hard yards in

Matt Taylor watches on at Melksham Town

Matt Taylor is pleased with the work done by Bristol Rovers during the first week of pre-season training.

An intense few days of football sessions, running and gym work was concluded with Rovers’ opening pre-season outing of the 2024/25 schedule, with the Gas securing a 4-2 win away at Melksham Town.

New midfielder Isaac Hutchinson opened the scoring for Rovers in the first half before 16-year-old Ollie Dewsbury doubled the lead just after half-time with a well-taken finish.

Melksham battled back, netting twice in two minutes to level the clash, but defender Dan Ellison scored two headers in quick succession to earn a hard-fought win for the Pirates.

Manager Taylor was happy with the physical efforts shown by his players, both in Friday’s match and in training throughout the week, and indicated even more hard work would be to come for his squad in the sessions to come…


The first thing to say is ‘thank you’ to Melksham Town.

This is a fantastic facility, first and foremost, and I think we come here every year for a reason. Both communities, both sets of supporters, look forward to this one and it’s a good venue to come and play a pre-season game.

It’s come at the end of our first week of training so hopefully the lads weren’t too physically tired after the work they’ve done. They might have been a little bit leggy towards the end of each half but I’m really pleased with the outing. 

Luke Thomas

We’ve worked hard this week. We set the stall out pretty early on in relation to that.

Apart from Monday morning, which was the testing in the gym, the rest of the time has seen the lads put some real hard yards in this week. Hopefully they’ll be better for it come next week. They’ve got their last weekend off in an awful long time now so I hope they enjoy that.

But this game came at the end of that week and we’ve hopefully come through unscathed. Certainly, towards the end, there were some tackles flying. But that’s to be accepted and understood because you want it to be a competitive game, and I feel like it was throughout.


I was generally pleased with the intent of the team in the first half.

The execution actually let us down too many times. In the second half, it was probably a bit more of a messier team, a younger team, but we had a real threat about us. Ollie got his goal and then Dan got a couple too from set-plays. The stark contrast though is the goals we’ve conceded, and a couple of goalkeeping errors in relation to that, so that shows a bit of naivety of youth in that second half.

Concentrating on the first half, and some of the new signings in that, they’re still getting to know each other. We only did ten minutes of 11v11 work yesterday morning so that was the first time they’ve really played with each other, and you could see them saying that at half-time. But there was a slightly different dynamic to the group in the way they moved and that is a powerful squad. 

Isaac Hutchinson celebrates

Match fitness is different to normal fitness.

The lads will probably spend six to eight weeks doing five kilometres, ten kilometres runs, just doing general work over a certain area. Whereas football games are played in a tight area, so it’s all about your body movements in a 360 degree area. It’s about your hips, your feet and how you get the power into your legs. That will come as pre-season continues and some gym work will help as well.

But it won’t take too long for it to come back because generally these days players keep themselves pretty fit. But you only get that tight and sharp work when you go up against people, and that was our first competitive game today. Training has been competitive too and it will remain that way.


The second week will have a lot of the same as the first, and a bit more!

Then we have another game to look forward to. It’s slightly different with that game being on the Saturday, so we have an extra day’s work for them. There are three double sessions within that week too with football in the morning and running in the afternoon. We just want to keep the boys going in the right direction and not lose any to injury.

That’s why, in this game, it was so important because some were on the edge in terms of the physical work they did yesterday. They got through it unscathed though and hopefully we can do the same next week and have the squad a little bit fuller when we go to Bath City. There were a few this evening who weren’t involved, so we’ll hopefully be stronger next week too.


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