Who? Bristol Rovers
Where? The Memorial Stadium
When? Saturday, September 4, 3pm kick-off
Sky Bet League Two match five
Tickets can be purchased from Bristol Rovers FC on the day of the game from their away ticket cabin.
ONES TO WATCH
Aaron Collins - Striker
Collins is a player that may be recognisable to many Reds fans, after coming up against Crawley in previous seasons for Forest Green Rovers, Morecambe, Colchester and Newport County. Collins was signed as a free agent by Manager Joey Barton after he left Forest Green Rovers in the summer, but the pacy forward enjoyed a successful 2020/21 campaign with Rovers, scoring eleven goals and providing seven assists, forming a strong bond up top with Jamille Matt.
Collins failed to score against Crawley in our two meetings last season despite looking lively, but did find the net in the season previous in a 3-1 defeat for the Reds at The New Lawn, as Collins wheeled away with an acrobatic celebration. The 24-year old has great pace and acceleration, providing sides with a lot of energy in the final third. Collins will likely partner experienced professional Brett Pitman on Saturday.
Brett Pitman - Striker
Pitman is another face that Crawley supporters may know for scoring against us in recent history, last finding the net against the Reds two years ago in our 1-0 EFL Trophy bout at Fratton Park with Portsmouth.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed a career across the EFL with Bournemouth, Bristol City, Ipswich, Portsmouth and Swindon before joining Rovers as a free agent in the summer. Pitman has hit double figures for goals at each of these clubs and has a remarkable goal record within the football league. Brett has pinpoint finishing, a great eye for a pass and experience qualities that he can bring to the Gas’ frontline, as he looks likely to partner the younger Aaron Collins up top.
Bristol Rovers have had a mixed start to their first season back in League Two since 2016. They began their campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Mansfield Town, losing to a 96th minute Stags penalty. Rovers then recorded 0-2 home defeats to Cheltenham Town in the Carabao Cup and Stevenage in the league before fortunes turned in a 1-0 victory over strugglers Oldham Athletic, when Harvey Saunders’ strike proved decisive.
The Gas were struck for four at Exeter City after their first win, as the Grecians netted four times in the first-half to go into half-time with an incredible 4-0 scoreline. Sam Finley pulled one back in the second-half as the tie ended 4-1 in Devon. Joey Barton’s side then made the mammoth trip up to Barrow, where they claimed a point after a 1-1 draw against the Bluebirds. This time it was midfielder Sam Nicholson who found the goal. On Tuesday evening, The Gas hosted Cheltenham Town for the second time already this season but this time found themselves as 2-0 victors in the Papa John’s Trophy, thanks to goals from Sam Nicholson and Harvey Saunders yet again.
HEAD TO HEAD
In our last nine meetings with the Gas since 2011, the scores have been split fairly evenly across the years, with the Reds winning on two occasions, Rovers winning three times and the game finishing level on four occasions, two of these goalless.
Our most recent meeting with Rovers was three years ago in the EFL Cup first round, when we lost out 2-1 in a midweek August fixture against a side that had both Tony Craig and Sam Matthews in the opposing starting lineup. Tom Nichols also watched on from the Gas’ bench. Kyle Bennett and Ollie Clarke were Bristol’s scorers and Crawley’s Mark Connolly struck in the 88th minute to score a late consolation.
We also faced Bristol Rovers in cup competition in 2016, losing over two legs in the first round of the FA Cup. The first leg was hosted at The People’s Pension Stadium as Lee Brown gave Rovers an early lead, but Billy Clifford levelled the scoring after 35 minutes after making a run into the box to get on the end of Lewis Young’s low cross. Andre Blackman was shown red in the second-half but Crawley defended well to take the clash to a second leg in Bristol.
A rotated Crawley side lined up for the second leg, with the likes of Addison Garnett, Chris Arthur and Alex Davey all getting starts. Matty Taylor gave the Gas a lead 34 minutes into the game but Jordan Roberts levelled the scores on the brink of half-time with a belter of a strike after meeting a corner that swung towards the edge of the box.
Again Rovers took a lead through Rory Gaffney but again Crawley showed character to level it up once more through Matt Harrold, who met Enzio Boldewijn’s neat pass. Unfortunately as the game was taken into extra time the hosts became the victors after scoring twice to end the tie with a 4-2 scoreline.