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Match Preview: Sunderland v Bristol Rovers

The opening fixture of the 2020/21 League One campaign is finally upon us - here’s everything you need to know about Sunderland’s game today against Bristol Rovers!

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Semi Final Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One

Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 3pm - Saturday 12th September, 2020


Match Coverage

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!


The beginning of the League One campaign is finally upon us, and as always the excitement and anticipation has built up to this point. Let’s just hope the bubble of optimism isn’t burst on the opening day of the season.

One obvious omen to cling onto is that our last League One victory at the Stadium of Light was against Bristol Rovers. This came in the form of a comfortable 3-0 win back in February, when, after a spluttering first hour, Sunderland scored three in the closing twenty minutes after Abu Agogo was dismissed for the visitors.

Phil Parkinson will be aiming for a repeat scoreline as it’s vitally important for everyone to get a lift from a good start to the season with maximum points. Anything else would see the pressure exponentially crank up on the manager.

Bristol Rovers were in 14th position when time was called prematurely on the League One 2019/20 campaign, which was a slight improvement on the 15th final League position the season before. A 3-0 defeat at Portman Road in the Carabao Cup 1st Round suggests it might be more of the same for Ben Garner’s men this season.

Sunderland v Harrogate Town - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland Team News

With two competitive games under our belts to gauge what Phil Parkinson’s thinking is ahead of this season we can begin to know where we stand on some of his choices.

Big questions around the starting line-up are whether Xhemajli and Scowen come into the team and if we may see new signing Danny Graham earn a place, especially after the midweek performance against Aston Villa U21s, but it’s likely the majority of the team that turned out against Hull City in the Carabao Cup last week will get the final nod.

Possible XI: Lee Burge, Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright, Jordan Willis, Luke O’Nien, Josh Scowen, Max Power (c), Denver Hume, Chris Maguire, Aiden O’Brien, Will Grigg


Bristol Rovers Team News

No fewer than seven new signings have made the move to the Memorial Stadium over the summer, including ex-Sunderland defender Jack Baldwin who looks set to make his return to the Stadium of Light. Unfortunately for Ben Garner they were signed using proceeds from the sale of Jonson Clarke-Harris, who signed for Peterborough United in a deal worth £1.25 million.

Time will tell whether the new players can gel and propel The Pirates up and out of mid-table mediocrity, or whether they fall into a relegation battle this season. With a defeat to Ipswich Town in the Carabao Cup and a penalty loss after a 2-2 draw in the EFL Trophy against Walsall, Bristol Rovers will be looking for their first win of the season in the League opener.

Possible XI: Jordi Van Stappershoef, Mark Little, Luke Leahy, Max Ehmer (c), Jack Baldwin, Alfie Kilgour, Josh Grant, Zain Westbrooke, Sam Nicholson, Cameron Hargreaves, Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Turf Moor
Jack Baldwin - returning to the Stadium of Light with Bristol Rovers
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Last Time We Met at The Stadium of Light

Saturday 22nd February 2020: Sky Bet League One

Sunderland 3 - 0 Bristol Rovers (Gooch, Wyke, O’Nien - Agogo sent-off for Bristol Rovers)

Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Flanagan, O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire (Watmore), Gooch (Semenyo), Wyke (Lafferty) Substitutes not used: Burge, C. McLaughlin, Smith, Scowen

Bristol Rovers: Blackman, Kilgour, Leahy, Agogo, Menayese, Craig, Ginnelly, Upson, Clarke-Harris, Clarke, Mitchell-Lawson Substitutes not used: Van Stappershoef, Holmes-Dennis, Daly, Abraham


Match Betting

The bookmakers have the Lads as firm favourites for the season opener at 5/6 for all three points . You can get 10/3 for a surprise away win, with the draw at 5/2.

If you fancy a repeat of last time at 3-0 that is offered at 14/1, with the most likely result according to the bookies being a 1-0 win to Sunderland.


Prediction

I’m going to go for a repeat of the last time we faced Rovers at the Stadium of Light. It’s the opening day of the season, so let’s get all of this optimism out of my system early before it’s knocked out of me.

Sunderland 3 - 0 Bristol Rovers

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke scoring Sunderland’s second goal against Bristol Rovers in February.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images