Match Preview: Swindon at Bristol Rovers

Form… 6th placed Swindon have been unbeaten in their past 8 League Two games and 4 cup games.

Town have won 4 and drawn 2 of their previous 6 League games. Away from the County Ground, Swindon are unbeaten in 4 matches, including 3 successive victories at Plymouth Argyle, Accrington and Port Vale and a 1-1 draw last time out at AFC Wimbledon.

18th placed Bristol Rovers defy early predictions of Paul Buckle’s side pressing for automatic promotion. The Pirates have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 4 of their previous six League Two games. At the Memorial Stadium Rovers have won 2 and lost 4 of their previous six games, with a 2-0 defeat by Barnet in their last home outing in League Two.

Both sides came into the match following wins at the weekend in the FA Cup with Swindon 1-0 victors at Colchester United and Bristol Rovers 6-1 win at AFC Totton. Head-to-Head… One of the Town’s oldest adversaries, the first match against Bristol Eastville Rovers took place in the Western League – a secondary league competition for Swindon – back in 1897. A goal from Georgie Richardson was enough to give the Town both points – later in the season, a 3-0 victory was played out at the County Ground in front of just 350 people. Two years on, Rovers’ election to the Southern League put the clubs in the same division for the first time, a sequence that wasn’t broken until Rovers won promotion to Division Two over fifty years later, in 1953.

In all competitions Swindon had faced Bristol Rovers on 152 occasions, winning 65, drawing 22 and suffering 65 defeats, scoring 222 and conceding 238 goals.

In the Football League, Swindon have won 40, drawn 14 and defeated 32 times. Away at Bristol / Bath – Swindon have won 14, drawn 6 and defeated 23 occasions.

Swindon have won 1 of our 4 most recent games against Rovers, a 2-1 home victory in October 2010 thanks to Pericard and Morrison. The less said about the 4-0 home defeat in March 2010 the better.

Town have won 2 of our past 10 League encounters at Bristol Rovers; a 1-0 victory in April 2008 thanks to Simon Cox and that magnificent 4-1 demolition of Rovers at Twerton Park in September 1995, including a left foot, right foot and headed hatrick by Kevin Horlock, while on the march to the Division Two Championship.

What The Stats Say… Bristol Rovers’ league position of 18th echoes their overall position in our latest League Two Rankings.

Ranked 18th in their combined home and away defence and 17th in attack, Rovers failings seem to lie in their away efficiency – 20th in defence and 18th in attack – which falls significantly behind a 11th defensive and 14th attacking rank at the Memorial Stadium.

At home, despite restricting their opponents to a 10th ranked 9.9 shots per game, a high 52% (ranked 18th) are allowed to test their ‘keeper.

In attack, Rovers have secured the 3rd highest total shots at 14.3 per game, however the majority sail wide of target with 47% on target and only 8.4% on target, which is the 3rd worst in the division.

The Pirates have scored 12 goals at home, with 7 flying into their opponent’s net during the first half. Rovers’ most dangerous periods are between 16-30 minutes and immediately after half time when 3 goals have been scored in each.

With 14 home goals conceded, Rovers have conceded 9 in the first half, with the 15 minutes before the break being their weakest, conceding 5 goals.

Swindon have scored 10 goals away and are most dangerous in the final 15 minutes of the match including injury time with 4 goals scored. Town have yet to score in the opening 15 minutes of an away match this season.

Interestingly….Town have still yet to concede in time added on during our travels this season… Prediction… 

% Chance of Full Time Result: Swindon win: 54% | Bristol Rovers win: 20% | Draw: 26%

% Chance of Scoreline: Bristol Rovers 0 Swindon 1: 14% | Bristol Rovers 1 Swindon 1: 12% | Bristol Rovers 0 Swindon 2: 11% | Bristol Rovers 1 Swindon 2: 10% | Bristol Rovers 1 Swindon 0: 8%

My prediction… With Swindon going strong and Rovers on a slide, Swindon are best placed to continue to cement their play-off position with yet another League victory.

I can see Rovers scoring, but Town will get 2, so 2-1 it is then…

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