League One Gameweek Two: Low-Scoring Scuffle At The Mem?5 min read
Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers meet in League One Gameweek Two, with both expected to be in amongst the relegation dogfight this season.
While it would be inappropriately early to call this game a ‘six-pointer’, the implications of the result could look greater in May than they do at 5pm on Saturday.
Rovers short of quality
Bristol Rovers opened their League One season with a 2-0 loss at Blackpool.
It was not necessarily a bad performance from the Gasheads, who got into some decent areas throughout the game.
There were glimpses, too, of the odd piece of combination play between advanced midfielders Kyle Bennett and Ollie Clarke, with the latter hitting the post in the first half.
Graham Coughlan’s side though lacked certain touches of quality to make the most of their better moments and that is where they came unstuck.
In the second half of last season, Rovers had a very clinical front-man in Jonson Clarke-Harris, who was such a good finisher, even from outside the box, that the team did not need to create too much to pose a goalscoring threat.
In Clarke-Harris’ absence, Coughlan started Victor Adeboyejo last time out – and while the striker proved at Barnsley he is ruthless in the six-yard box, he is not necessarily the type of striker to mask a lack of pace or creativity in wide and deeper areas by firing from further out.
For that reason, the lack of quality in terms of Rovers’ final ball, as well as their lack of speed and width, was problematic in a performance that was reminiscent of the first half of the previous campaign under Darrell Clarke: they mustered 16 shots, but managed to get just one of them on target.
— Daniel Ball (@DanJBalll) August 5, 2019
It remains to be seen whether Coughlan will risk starting Clarke-Harris, who has been hindered by injury recently, even after a full week of training.
It is one thing to get the former Rotherham striker back fit, but quite another to get him back to match sharpness after playing no minutes in pre-season.
Alternatively, Coughlan could bring in the energetic but raw Tyler Smith, who looked bright after coming on at Bloomfield Road and hit the post – although leading the line in a 4-3-3 would be a big responsibility for the 5’10” 20-year-old.
Winning start for Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers, meanwhile, secured a 2-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers.
Even against woe-ridden opposition, the Chairboys can take positives from a dominant display, in which they could quite easily have scored more goals.
Paul Smyth, who grabbed the opener, was a bundle of positive energy up top – Wycombe had done well to sign the forward on loan from QPR, after the Northern Irishman had enjoyed a productive loan spell at Accrington Stanley.
Another recruit was Alex Pattison; the former Middlesbrough midfielder’s time at Yeovil was hindered by a long-term injury, but his bright, creative performance for Wycombe on day one will encourage manager Gareth Ainsworth.
The Chairboys need to keep Pattison fit, so too Anthony Stewart, who was not only his usual imposing self as a centre-back against Bolton, he also played one or two very impressive passes down the lines.
This, though, will be a rather different test.
Wycombe created chances against a youthful, makeshift Bolton side who have had the worst summer of preparation possible, but Bristol Rovers could be harder to unlock.
We can therefore presume that while both teams will have willing runners up top as well as creative endeavour, there could be a lack of quality in the final ball or final shot from both sides that would likely contribute to a low-scoring encounter.
Tip: Under 2.5 goals
Read Gabriel’s League One 1-20 predictions.