Sutton United VS Bristol Rovers Preview 05.02.2022

League Two, Saturday, February 5, 3pm, VBS Community Stadium.

The Gas face a stern test of their play-off credentials with a trip to an in-form Sutton side this weekend. Both teams are unbeaten in League Two since the turn of the year, with Sutton only sitting outside the top three on goal difference after a fine first half of the season.

Rovers fans could get to see a couple of new faces after the club confirmed the arrival of free agent midfielder Jon Nolan after Monday’s transfer deadline passed amid the usual drama and chaos. Nolan, who was available after being released by Ipswich Town, became the fourth mid-season signing of this term, following Ryan Loft, James Connolly and Eliott Anderson into the Mem, though the club’s late efforts to bring in Callum Camps and Liam Sercombe failed.

A 1-0 win over Walsall last time out maintained momentum for Joey Barton’s side but Sutton’s strong defence will be a tougher task than the struggling Saddlers.

Team news

Rovers will be without Brett Pitman, with the veteran striker having been given the green light to end his spell at the club and complete a switch to non-league side Eastleigh.

There could be a return to the squad for 18-year-old goalkeeper Jed Ward, though, after he was recalled early from a loan spell at Swindon Supermarine.

Ward is likely to deputise for Anssi Jaakkola, who is set to step into the side with regular keeper James Belshaw having been ruled out by a leg injury that was sustained late in the Walsall win.

Nolan has been out of action for a year due to a knee injury, so he may not be involved yet, but there could be a debut for Gas deadline day signing Anderson, a 19-year-old midfielder.

The form book

Both teams go into Saturday’s clash in fine form, with Rovers having collected 13 points from their past five league games, a series of results that has shot them into the top half of the table.

Sutton, though, are unbeaten in their past seven league games. They have not lost in front of their own fans for the past three months, but The Gas have plenty of momentum behind them as well. Away from home, Barton’s men have been inconsistent in recent weeks but a 3-2 win at Scunthorpe United on their last road trip perhaps showed the way forward for Rovers.

A 2-0 win at Carlisle United last weekend ensured Sutton remain firmly in the promotion picture. That win made it three clean sheets on the spin in all competitions for Saturday’s hosts, with a resilient defence the foundation on which their push for successive promotions is being built.

Head to head record

Gas and Sutton are yet to meet in League Two this season, with a scheduled Boxing Day fixture between the sides having to be postponed due to COVID-19 cases.

Sutton travelled to the Mem in the FA Cup a few weeks back, though, with goals from Aaron Collins and Nick Anderton helping Barton’s men to come from behind and reach round three.

Opposition player to watch

Exciting forward David Ajiboye represents a key threat for Sutton, having netted his seventh league goal of the season in the defeat of Carlisle last time out.

Ajiboye is likely to start on the wing but he will cut inside and go for goal as often as he can.