Bristol Rovers - Home, Aug 12th
Bristol Rovers home, Carling Cup Round One
Last Season: No meetings
League Cup: Round One [Lost to Crystal Palace]
In: Jeff Hughes [Crystal Palace; Undisc.], Darryl Duffy [Swansea; £100,000],
Out: Chris Carruthers [Oxford; Free], Joshua Klein-Davis [Luton; Loan], Richard Walker [Shrewsbury; Loan] and Lewis Haldane [Oxford; Loan].
After successfully negotiating a point against Neil Warnock`s Crystal Palace at the weekend, attentions turn to a safe route into the Second Round of the Carling Cup this Tuesday. Watford have a decent Carling Cup record having reached the Semi`s back in 2005 and since then haven`t crashed out in the first round.
Last year saw the Hornets conquer League One side Gillingham comprehensively before crashing out 2-0 at Southend, the beginning of a bad couple of weeks as a four-one trashing at Leicester followed. So, hears hoping to more luck this year. Standing between Watford and the Second Round, are Bristol Rovers, the Gasheads as fans affectionately call themselves.
Under the stewardship of their young manager, Paul Trollope, a former Gashead himself, the Bristolians reached the F.A Cup 6th Round where the lost out to eventual Quarter Finalists, West Brom. Trollope`s men started this campaign with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Carlisle United, goals coming from Andrew Williams and Ricky Lambert.
If Bristol Rovers are to get further than the First Round, then it`s the likes of Lambert who will be charged with scoring the goals come Tuesday night. Lambert`s F.A Cup record at the Memorial Stadium speaks volumes for his net-finding prowess, 6 in 12 - one every other, not bad for a cup competition. In the league, the 26 year-old midfielder-cum-striker has 22 goals in 71 starts.
Signed from Swansea City, Darryl Duffy is the ideal man to help take the goalscoring burden off the shoulder of Lambert, or at least share it. Signed for a snip of £100,000 after a tough time at last year`s League One Champs Swansea [who forked out twice that amount for him], Duffy made his Rovers debut at the weekend and will be looking for that elusive first goal as soon as possible. Spells with Falkirk [27 in 55] and Swansea on loan [5 in 5] helped make the 24 year olds name as a decent forward.
Whether Duffy`s been a success everywhere or not, it still comes down to the service he receives, one-time Hornets target, Stuart Campbell, Rovers captain no less, is someone who`ll be looking to help create chances for Lambert and Duffy. Now 31, the experienced central midfielder has clocked up exactly 300 league starts, the majority, 134 of them, coming for the Gas, however 3 goals for the club [in all competitions] render Campbell more of a creator than a scorer.
One man with a reputation to excite and create is veteran midfielder, Sammy Igoe. A Swindon cult hero, Igoe has failed to really truly settle since leaving Swindon and has spent a spell on loan at Hereford and a miserable year at Millwall. Still, despite playing twice on loan for Luton, the diminutive midfielder is someone of the ilk to create goals and score them too. Whether he will feature or not, having fallen out of favour with Trollope, is another question.
Finally, it's worth noting that the Pirates were the club to introduce Bobby Zamora, Jason Roberts, Barry Hayles and yes, gulp, Nathan Ellington to the footballing world - not something Hornets fans are thankful for.
For Watford, without the benefit of such a luxuriously-sized squad, it may be an opportunity for the experienced heads to ram a few goals home and get the fans onside in the first home game of the campaign, then again, it could be the turn of Loach, Robinson, Avinel and co. to prove their worth ahead of Nottingham Forest and Charlton.
Either way, it`s a valuable first team fixture, places are there for the take…
A weakened Watford?
Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Avinel, Parkes; Jenkins, Bangura, O`Toole; Hoskins, Henderson, Robinson.
Bristol Rovers Last Time Out
Phillips; Pipe, Anthony, Elliott, Lescott; Lines, Campbell, Disley, Hughes; Lambert, Duffy.