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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Bradford hold the edge over travel-sick Rovers

Bantams should be more solid at the back

Darrell Clarke's Bristol Rovers have won their last four games
1 of 1

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Bristol Rovers have recovered from a disappointing start to the season but they could be stopped in their tracks when they undergo a difficult test at Bradford in Sky Bet League One.

Rovers lost to Charlton on the opening day after the Addicks played 84 minutes with ten men and a 4-1 defeat at home to Peterborough left loyal Gas followers fearing the worst.

Four successive wins have calmed that pessimism but the successes of Darrell Clarke's side have to be given some context.

While a 1-0 League Cup success at fancied Fulham in the League Cup was eye-catching, Ellis Harrison's early goal was the only shot on target Rovers mustered against a Cottagers side transformed by 11 changes from the team who played Sheffield Wednesday in the Sky Bet Championship three days earlier.

It is also tempting to get carried away by a 5-1 EFL Trophy success at Wycombe, even though a home league success over Fleetwood last week should not be sniffed at.

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Billy Bodin is a goal threat and has scored five goals already this term, so Clarke will have been delighted that the attentions of Hull were warded off during the transfer window.

However, his team's away record is poor and a visit to Valley Parade is one of the tougher trips Rovers face in League One.

The Bantams lost to Millwall in the playoff final in May and there are a few concerns that while Stuart McCall's side have scored 12 goals in their last six matches, they have conceded ten.

Apart from last Saturday's 3-3 draw at Walsall, though, the goals have flowed more freely in their cup encounters and the draw at the Bescot was only the second occasion in their last eight games when the match has featured more than two goals.

McCall will be delighted that skipper Romain Vincent is available after suspension and will be patting himself on the back after new signing Dominic Poleon has scored three goals in five appearances since joining from AFC Wimbledon.

The only time they have been beaten this season is when they were edged out in a tight game at home to pre-season favourites Blackburn.

City have gained more solidity in midfield with Vincent's inclusion while Rovers are missing players to international call-ups, and that tips the balance in the home side's favour.

1pt 7-5 general

Team news
New central defender Adam Thompson could make his debut. Romain Vincent is available after suspension but goalkeeper Rouvan Sattelmaier has a ­hamstring injury.

Bristol Rovers
Tom Lockyer and Ryan Sweeney are on international duty.

Key stat
Bristol Rovers have won three of their last 17 away league games.

Four successive wins have calmed that pessimism but the successes of Darrell Clarke's side have to be given some context
E.W. Terms
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