Pritchett calls for another Rovers performance

Rovers boss calls for another performance against another title challenger

For the fourth time in nineteen days, Tuffley Rovers will play one of the top four sides in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division knowing that they’ll need to be at their best if they are to secure points that could prove pivotal to their fight for survival. The sequence of games against the division’s top teams that started with a visit to Brimscombe & Thrupp will end on Saturday, with the current league leaders making the return visit to Glevum Park.

This will be the second time the two sides have met at Glevum Park this season and Rovers will be looking to avoid a similar outcome to the Floodlit Cup tie in early December, when they conceded an equalising goal on the cusp of full-time, before their visitors scored six times in the additional 30 minutes’ extra-time.

When the sides met at The Meadow on 19 February, Rovers looked well set to avenge that chastening defeat, as they held a half-time lead courtesy of Kieran Alder’s deflected free-kick, but a James Campbell brace in the second period proved enough for Sam Prior’s side to take the points on that occasion.

Fast forward to this weekend and Rovers’ boss Mark Pritchett will be hoping that the improving trend might finally help his team secure some points, as they look to continue an impressive spell of form that has helped them start to move above the automatic relegation spots.

The previous three recent games against the top four – the trip to Brimscombe, as well as a game at Wantage Town, prior to last week’s draw with Bishops Cleeve – have yielded just one point, but with a goal difference of just minus two the statistics back up Pritchett’s belief that his side have been continuing the form necessary to take them away from danger.

“We are delighted with our form and we’ve started to turn Glevum Park into a fortress. We feel the two defeats against Brimscombe and Wantage should have been at least draws”, he confirmed.

Rovers’ boss is still overseeing a young squad, with an average age under 23 years old, but he and his Assistant, Rich Cox (who took over from Alex O’Leary midway through the season), believe that their young group are starting to show the potential that has been evident to many through the course of this season.

“We’ve reintegrated Brad Loveridge, after a spell in the Reserves, and added Luke Troke to the squad recently, and both have done well”, Pritchett confirmed. “They’ve created more competition, so that we now have 18-20 players consistently competing for the sixteen places in the squad. That, in turn, has created genuine competition for places but it seems the lads enjoying fighting for their places and there is a really good feeling that they understand this is a squad effort.”

Saturday’s visitors currently lead the Premier Division table and with just five games to go, they’ll arrive at Rovers’ home with a determination to complete a treble of victories in the current season. Their visit comes off the back of a victory over Virginia Water, seven days after a defeat at Holmer Green, which was their only other game since beating Pritchett’s side. Whilst five wins won’t be enough to guarantee Prior’s side the title, as Wantage Town have games in hand, it will put them in sight of an achievement that would be an extraordinary achievement.

So, whatever the teams’ respective positions, both sides come into the game with their eye on a victory that could have a significant influence on their fortunes for the remainder of the season.