Bristol Rovers v Walsall Match Preview 29.01.2022

League Two, Saturday January 29, 3pm, The Memorial Stadium.

Bristol Rovers will look to maintain a charge to the play-offs when Walsall visit on Saturday.

The Gas have taken 10 points from the last 12 available to shoot up the table, though they survived a scare in midweek as Sam Burns hit two late goals for Scunthorpe United.

Joey Barton’s side held on to win 3-2, recording a first away victory in three months to leave Gasheads dreaming of a top-seven finish. Goals from Josh Grant, Leon Clarke and a penalty from Antony Evans set up a morale-boosting three points despite the late Iron fightback.

While Rovers have an eight-point gap to make up on those teams occupying play-off positions, they have at least one game in hand on all of them too, boosting hopes of a frantic finale.

Successive home wins have lifted the mood at the Mem and struggling Walsall could provide obliging opponents for the in-form Gas this weekend.

Team news

Ryan Loft missed out with a head injury against Scunthorpe and the attacker might be unavailable again, especially as Luke Thomas performed well in his absence.

Leon Clarke could start for Gas after the veteran scored what proved to be the winner in the Iron match but Harvey Saunders and Alex Rodman remain on the long-term injury list.

The form book

Walsall make the trip to Bristol on the back of four straight losses, which has seen Matt Taylor’s side slip into the bottom third of League Two.

The Saddlers went down 2-1 at home to Bradford City during the week, with a late Andy Cook penalty a hammer blow to their hopes of snapping a concerning losing streak.

Walsall have only scored twice in their past four games – The Gas have hit 10 in the same span – so the form book is only pointing to one result here.

Taylor’s team did win three in a row on the road earlier in the campaign, but they have nothing to show from their last three trips away from home.

Head to head record

The Gas have come out on top in three of their past four meetings with Walsall, winning the last two matches by the same 2-1 scoreline, though both victories came away from home.

In the reverse fixture back in September, Keiran Phillips put the Saddlers ahead but Rovers came from behind to win thanks to goals in the last 11 minutes from Conner Taylor and Sion Spence, who struck the decisive blow in added time.

Walsall’s last visit to the Memorial Stadium came in September 2020 in the EFL Trophy, with the Saddlers triumphing on penalties on that occasion.

Opposition player to watch

George Miller is Walsall’s top scorer this season with eight League Two goals from 21 games. The 24-year-old netted against Bradford in midweek to end a dry spell dating back to October.

Miller, who is on loan at Walsall from Barnsley, was rather fortunate to get on the scoresheet, however, as a shot from a team-mate deflected off his body to fly in.