Southampton - Season 2010/11 - Bristol Rovers
Last season we lost 2-3 to Bristol Rovers at home in a game which highlighted our then frailty at the back. Played in September we still had problems with our defence which we gradually saw get sorted as the season developed.
The score was reversed at the Memorial ground in November. In another close fought encounter which was played in the F.A Cup, we beat Rovers 3-2.
The third meeting was again at the Memorial ground where we headed, with us still fighting for a place in the play-offs. It was now April, and we totally outplayed Rovers winning 5-1.
This summer Rovers have strengthened by bringing in four new players. One of those is Will Hoskins who has signed from Watford.
He has had experience of Division One from his days with Rotherham. Season 2006/7 saw him score 15 goals in 22 starts for the Millers. During that spell he actually scored 8 in 8.
From Rotherham he went to Watford where he struggled to keep the goals coming. Now he has returned to Division One with but one aim. He wants a full season and to be the division's leading scorer.
Something tells me that a certain Mr Lambert among others might have something to say about that.
Rovers manager Paul Trollope is hoping that his team can get off to a flyer like they did last season. He has had the team in for a week of high intensity training as in the last season.
Charlton have lost midfielder Harry Pell to the Gas, and Wayne Brown has arrived from Fulham. Gary Sawyer former Plymouth defender has also signed for the club.
With Saints strengthening as well, the games could again be a close run thing. Not good for the heart or blood pressure but certainly exciting.
Going by the way that Rovers seem to be progressing it could well be that they will again be in the top half of the League.
Though they have never reached the top flight of English football, Rovers have since joining the league never dropped out of it. The closest that they came to doing this was when re-elected in 1939.
Since their promotion in season 2006/7 they have seemed reasonably secure. Last season they started well and even with Saints capturing Rickie Lambert they managed to continue scoring.
This season both clubs are hoping to improve. Rovers with four new players are still lookingh to get more in. One being a keeper.
Saints who have now signed a new left back and right back to strengthen our defence, still look to have some more decisions to make regarding player acquisitions.
Whether Bristol Rovers can repeat their win against us from last season or not, one thing is almost certain. Saints fans will be demanding a better performance against them.
Myself, I just do not see Rovers repeating the score against us. We grew a lot stronger during last season and I firmly believe that we will win when the two clubs meet.
Having erased the memory of the St Mary's game in April, with the heavy defeat that we inflicted on them at the Memorial ground. I cannot see anything but Saints winning when we meet, at home or away.