The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 7 September 2019, between Bristol Rovers F.C. and Accrington Stanley F.C. and will take place at Memorial Stadium in Bristol, England. In last week's match Accrington was finally able to earn their first victory of the season, a 2-1 result over MK Dons at home. The lead moves them ahead of AFC Wimbledon in the standings, but with just 4 points and a -4 goal difference on the season, they still sit teetering precariously on the edge of the relegation line. After a stumbling start that saw Bristol go winless in their first 3 League One matches, The Pirates have righted the ship a bit, having won 2 in-a-row before falling to Burton Albion F.C. by a 2-0 score last Saturday. They currently sit 14th in the table with 7 points, but just 5 goals scored through 6 games is an extremely troubling stat. Accrington, whose offensive struggles have been well documented have now scored 5 goals through 5 games. The defense has held things together for Bristol thus far though, as they have allowed just 7 goals through those 6 matches.
Last season, Accrington finished 14th in League One, while Bristol finished 15th, with both clubs expected to be fighting amongst the mid-table again this season. Although Accrington edged Bristol 55 to 54 on points, The Pirates had a far superior goal differential of -3, compared with Accy's -16. Bristol's 47 goals scored were the 2nd fewest in the League, and 4 fewer than Accrington's 51. Once again, it was the defense stepping up, as 50 goals allowed was the 5th lowest total in the League, and was the least conceded by any team that finished outside the top 5. If early season stats play our over the course of the whole season then both teams could end up with similar splits at the end of this season, although I don't think that would be pleasing to either manager.
Accrington has made an absolute overhaul of their entire roster. They have made a slew of acquisitions, and already had more than a dozen new faces in the locker room, before adding even more just before the deadline. Included in those signings, is Preston North End loanee striker Connor Simpson, who should see significant playing time with Courtney Baker-Richardson currently sidelined with a hamstring injury. They also strengthened the backline with another loan player, Jerome Opoku, who came over from Fulham earlier this week. Bristol has been quiet for the most part on the the signing front, however they did recently in center-back Alfie Kilgore, a 21-year-old who has become a regular starter this season, to a contract extension.
Accrington Stanley vs Bristol Rovers Vital Information
This match can be will be the first that can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow or in the United States, and in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Neil Hair as the referee, with assistants Andrew Laver and Ryan Whitaker, and the fourth official Samuel Ogles.
This will be the 13th meeting all time between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Bristol Rovers. In the previous 12 meetings, Accrington have won 8, Bristol have won 2, and there has been 2 draws. It was a draw in the most recent of those, 0-0 at the WHAM Stadium on 12 January 2019. They first met as EFL League Two opponents, in 2006, a match that was won 4-0 by Bristol. However, it has been all Accrington since, as The Pirates have not beaten Accy since April 2012. In fact, Accy had won 7 straight decisions prior to January's draw.
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Accrington really seems to have turned a corner, and looked a different club in not only their win over MK Dons last Saturday, but their subsequent victory of Fleetwood Town F.C. in the League Trophy on Tuesday. One of the biggest difference makers have been the talented Joe Pritchard who seems to be the engine that Accrington needs in that center attacking midfield position to drive the attack. Wilson Carvalho was one of seven changes from Saturday that manager John Coleman made on Tuesday. Carvalho rewarded Coleman with a crucial goal against Fleetwood, and has been a player who has shown promise early this year in extremely limited playing time. I wouldn't be surprised to see the 26-year-old Carvalho get the start again on Saturday.
For Bristol, the main scoring threat without a doubt is Jonson Clarke-Harris. So far this season, he has scored twice, but the number that really pops out for you is from last season. Clarke-Harris came over from Coventry City F.C. at mid-season last year, and after coming over, he needed just 14 starts and 16 appearances to net a team leading11 goals. In fact, he accounted for over 23% of Bristol's total goals last season, in spite of appearing in just less than 35% of their matches. Midfielder Ollie Clarke, who is Mr. Bristol Rovers if you will was second on the squad with 6 goals last season, and has been an anchor in their midfield for the better part of a decade now. Clarke is not a man who is afraid to mix things up either, as last season he racked up 13 bookings. So far this year, he has already collected 3 yellow cards in just 6 matches.
Right now the oddsmakers are favoring the home side, but only marginally. Currently, you can get even money betting on Bristol Rovers. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Bristol to win would pay back 20, your original 10 plus your winnings of 10). If you are feeling Accy, the payout is pretty nice a 5/2. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Accy would to win would pay back 35, your original 10 plus 25 in winnings). If it's a draw you fancy, that is currently going off at 12/5, or a 34 quid payout in our 10 quid example. If you have no interest in gambling then just go ahead and skip this paragraph. However, I would say that even if you aren't a gambler, it is worth taking into consideration that the folks who make the lines make a living off of getting them right, and they can often provide an insight into who "the pros" think will win the game. This line seems pretty straight forward, which means the books are hoping people will lay fairly equal money on each side. This usually means that "the pros" don't have a strong feeling one way or another about a match. Most gamblers will tell you this is the kind of game to stay away from because there is no inherent advantage on betting on either side.
It has been a few weeks since I spoke about my favorite guy, Mr. Excitement, Dimitar Evtimov. Last week against MK Dons he saved the game, by poking the ball just over the bar on what ended up being the last shot of the game. It was the second time this season that Evtimov has saved points in the waning moments of the match. More impressively however, it seems the he is making a concerted effort to slow the game down just a bit to allow guys in front of him to be ready before clearing the ball. Hurriedness in clearing the ball has gotten him into trouble a few times this season, but it was clear in this last match that he is making strides in this part of his game. 19-year-old Toby Savin got the start in goal on Tuesday, and impressed to the point of being named Man of the Match, so it seems that Accy will have a solid pair of keepers this season. However, expect to season Evtimov back between the pipes on Saturday.
Speaking of goalkeepers, behind their stout defense, The Pirates have brought in veteran Anssi Jaakkola. Last season Jaakola made 15 starts for Reading F.C. in the EFL Championship, and posted an impressive 75% save percentage with 3 clean sheets. This season, he has started all 6 games for Bristol, and although his save percentage has fallen to 63.4%, he has an impressive 1.14 goals per 90 minutes, and has already recorded 2 clean sheets. Adding a talent like Jaakola to an already strong defensive unit should make Bristol's net a veritable fortress, however, it should be noted that he has never played more than 26 games in a season before. One thing to keep an eye on will be his ability to play at a high level over the course of a 40+ game season, especially at the age of 32.
Accrington Stanley vs Bristol Rovers Prediction
In a match between two fairly evenly matched clubs, it's tempting to just take the home side, but Accrington has shown a particular bit of fire over their past few matches. Furthermore, it is rare for Accrington to run into a club that has more trouble scoring than they do, but The Pirates fit that bill. To top it all off, you have to factor in the fact that Accrington has just had Bristol's number over the years, and the history is recent enough that some of these players have been a part of it. I expect a defensive battle, and Accrington to possess the ball with Bristol looking to get one off the counter attack. However, if Accy can manage to shut down Clarke-Harris, then I don't think The Pirates have what it takes to swashbuckle the ball past Mr. Excitement. Let's say Sean McConville gets his first League goal of the year, after finally putting the onion in the bag on Tuesday, and Evtimov gets his first clean sheet of the year.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley - 1 Bristol Rovers - 0