Grant Ward gets help at Swansea

John Marquis about to be challenged at Eastleigh

Luke Thomas in action against Melksham

Sam Finley looking after the last of the mohicans at Brentford!

Training camp in Portugal ahead of the game against SC Braga

Triallist Teo Kurturan in action at Swansea

A season that began full of hope and expectation ended with supporters not at all happy with the way their team performed over the course of the 2023/24 campaign.

That was in spite of the club finishing higher in the league (15th) and with more points (57) than in 2022/23.

New majority shareholders were announced before a ball had been kicked in anger and they saw through the completion of a new South Stand at the Memorial Stadium.

However, three managers were in charge over the course of the campaign and injuries to key players affected team selection with the trio of those in the hotseat seldom able to name an unchanged starting XI.

What follows is one person’s take on the games played and a record of those who represented the club in a disappointing season.

Ever the eternal optimists, though, most of us will be back at the Mem in August ready to get behind a new set of players who, hopefully, will wear the blue and white quarters with both pride and passion.

Whilst it’s easy to write a match report after the game has taken place, it’s not always easy to obtain the photos with which to illustrate the words and therefore Bristol Rovers Supporters Club is indebted to those at the Football Club for allowing us access to their photo archive for 2023/24 which bring these match reports to life.

FRIENDLIES

30th  June 2023

Melksham Town 0

Bristol Rovers 9

Sinclair (2), Thomas (2), McCormick, Marquis, Loft, Kurturan, Brown

 

Melksham Town: Joel Manning (Seb Tylek), Nuno Felix, Jayden Pearce, Dion Molyneux, George Plank, Sam Hendy, Joe Porton, Ben Brooks, Albie Hopkins, Paul Cronin, Aaron Witchell

Bristol Rovers first Half: Jed Ward, James Gibbons, James Wilson, James Connolly,  Ryan Jones, Antony Evans, Sam Finley, Luke McCormick, Scott Sinclair, John Marquis, Luke Thomas.

Second Half: James Belshaw, Harvey Greenslade, Luca Hoole, Josh Grant, Ryan Jones, Grant Ward, Jerry Lawrence (Will Larvin, 80), Jevani Brown, Teo Kurturan, Ryan Loft, Aaron Collins.

Substitutes: Kofi Shaw, Charlie Moody, Charlie White, Oscar Bridgeman

Attendance: 2,014

 

8th July 2023

Eastleigh 0

Bristol Rovers 2

Sinclair (27), Marquis (64)

Eastleigh first half: Joe McDonnell, Ryan Clampin, Nigel Atangana, Aaron Martin, Paul McCallum, Aidan Barlow, Lee Hodson, Triallist A, Kaya Tshaka, Tom Bragg, Seung Woo Yang

Substitutes: Tommy Scott, Harley Stock, Triallist D, Triallist E, Luke Chalwell

Second half: Joe McDonnell (Tommy Scott, 71), Charlie Carter, Jake Taylor, Wnzio Boldewijn, George Langston, Triallist (Lyle Simpson, 65), Soloman Nwaboukei, Triallist, Triallist, Oscar Rutherford, Tom Bragg.

Substitutes: Harley Stock, Luke Chalwell, Triallist, Triallist.

Bristol Rovers first half: Jed Ward, James Gibbons, James Wilson, James Connolly, Ryan Jones, Sam Finley, Grant Ward, Scott Sinclair, Jevani Brown, Aaron Collins, Ryan Loft.

Second half: James Belshaw, James Gibbons, Luca Hoole, George Friend, Ryan Jones, Antony Evans, Teo Kurtaran, Luke McCormick, Luke Thomas, John Marquis, Harvey Greenslade.

Although Rovers created a number of goalscoring opportunities early on, it wasn’t until the 27th minute that they took the lead when Scott Sinclair was on hand to score from close range following good play between Jevani Brown and Aaron Collins.

Charlie Carter rattled the Rovers bar shortly after the restart as the hosts attempted to get back on level terms but the second goal went to Rovers, scored on 64 minutes by John Marquis. He was on hand to take down a cross from Luca Hoole before firing into the net from close range.

 

11th July 2023

Cardiff City

Behind Closed Doors Friendly – game consisted of two one hour periods.

Cardiff City first period: Ryan Allsop, Perry NG, Mark McGuinness, Jack Simpson, Joel Bagan, Andy Rinomhota, Joe Ralls, Sheyi Ojo, Callum Robinson, Hieron Evans, Kion Etete.

Goalscorer: Callum Robinson (46)

Bristol Rovers first period: James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, James Wilson, George Friend, James Connolly, Sam Finley, Grant Ward, Luke Thomas, Scott Sinclair, Jevani Brown, Aaron Collins.

Yellow Card: Connolly

Goalscorer: Scott Sinclair (14)

Result first period: Cardiff City 1 Bristol Rovers 1

Cardiff City second period: Jak Alnwick, Mahlon Romeo, Dimitrios Goutas (Eli King), Xavier Benjamin (Tom Davies), Jamilu Collins (Vontae Campbell), Ebou Adams, Ryan Wintle, Ollie Tanner, Rubin Colwill (Joel Colwill), Callum O’Dowda (Isaak  Davies), Ike Ugbo (Max Watters).

Goalscorer: Ollie Tanner (3)

Bristol Rovers second period: Jed Ward, Will Larvin, Charlie White, Theo Lynden (Jerry Lawrence), Oscar Bridgman, Triallist (Kofi Shaw), Ryan Loft, John Marquis, Harvey Greenslade, Luke McCormick, Antony Evans

Result second period: Cardiff City 1 Bristol Rovers 0

 

15th July 2023

Brentford ‘B’ 0

Bristol Rovers 1

Sinclair (pen, 45)

Brentford: Matthew Cox, Charlie Farr, Val Adedokun, Erion Zabeli, Tristan Crama, Ji-Soo Kim (Conor McManus (46), Ethan Brierley, Aaron Pressley, Nathan Young-Coombes, Tony Yogane, Myles Peart-Harris.

This was Brentford’s starting XI and, as you can see, there was one change at half time. Their Twitter feed reported eight changes in the 65th minute. The only three players from the players listed above to stay on the pitch were Cox, Crama and McManus.

The substitutes were; Angel Waruih, Beaux Boothe, Chanse Headman, Max Dickov and four triallists.

Bristol Rovers: James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, James Connolly, James Wilson, George Friend, Luke Thomas, Scott Sinclair, Grant Ward, Sam Finley, Aaron Collins, Jevani Brown.

Rovers Twitter feed didn’t report any half time changes but says that seven changes were made in the 60th minute. Players to come off were Belshaw, Friend, Finley, Collins, Brown, Thomas and Ward (G). Players who went on were; Antony Evans, Ryan Loft, Jed Ward, John Marquis, Ryan Jones and Charlie White.

There were four more substitutions on 70 minutes when Connolly, Wilson, Sinclair and Hoole were replaced by Theo Lynden, Harvey Greenslade, Will Larvin and a triallist (believed to be Teo Kurtaran).

Charlie White was stretchered off (minute not recorded, but between the 75th and 84th minute). He was replaced by Kofi Shaw.

Yellow Card: Hoole

The only goal of the game was scored by Sinclair – a 45th minute penalty.

Brentford’s Cox and Crama would join Rovers, on a season long loan, later in July.

 

22nd July 2023

SC Braga 3

Castro (12), Macedoo (37), Horta (90)

Bristol Rovers 2

Collins (10), Brown (32)

 SC Braga: Hornicek, Joe Mendes, Jose Fonte, Paulo Oliveira, Adrian Marin, Castro, Rodrigo Zalazar, Roger, Alvaro Djalo, Pizzi, Macedo.

Substitutes: Vitor Tormena, Andre Horta, Bruma, Goncalo Cardoso, Simon Banza, Rodrigo Gomes were all used as second half substitutes, though I’m not sure what minute (s) they were introduced.

Bristol Rovers: James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, James Connolly, Ryan Jones, James Wilson, Sam Finley, Grant Ward, Luke Thomas, Aaron Collins, Scott Sinclair, Jevani Brown.

At the start of the second half Rovers made four substitutions, sending on Jed Ward,, Antony Evans, John Marquis and a Triallist. They replaced Belshaw, Connolly, Finley and Thomas.

The following substitutions were made in the 75th minute; Jerry Lawrence, Kofi Shaw, Theo Lynden, Will Larvin and Harvey Greenslade. Not sure who made way.

 

25th July 2023

Swansea City 0

Bristol Rovers 2

Brown (76), Marquis (90)

Swansea City: Andy Fisher (Filip Lissah, 63), Josh Key, Matt Grimes (Jay Fulton, 46), Jerry Yates (Joel Piroe, 46), Jamie Paterson (Olivier Ntcham, 76), Brandon Cooper, Liam Cullen (Josh Thomas, 76), Nathan Wood (Joel Cotterill, 63), Kyle Naughton (Harry Darling, 46), Ollie Cooper (Joe Thomas, 76), Azeem Abdulai (Ben Lloyd, 88).

Substitutes: Lewis Webb, Ben Hughes.

Bristol Rovers: James Belshaw (Matt Cox, 46), James Wilson (Tristan Crama, 46), Lewis Gordon (Ryan Jones, 46), James Connolly, Sam Finley (Kofi Shaw, 84), Scott Sinclair (John Marquis, 46), Grant Ward (Antony Evans, 46), Aaron Collins (Triallist, 84), Luke Thomas (Jerry Lawrence, 78), Jevani Brown (Harvey Greenslade, 84), Luca Hoole.

 

29th July 2023

Bristol Rovers 2

Marquis (50 & 69)

Chesterfield 0

Attendance: 2,103

Bristol Rovers: Matt Cox, Luca Hoole (James Connolly, 46), James Wilson, Tristan Crama (Harvey Greenslade, 78), Lewis Gordon (Ryan Jones, 60), Grant Ward (Teo Kurturan, 74), Antony Evans, Jevani Brown (Aaron Collins, 46), Scott Sinclair (Sam Finley, 46), Luke Thomas (Will Larvin, 78), John Marquis.

Substitutes: James Belshaw, Jerry Lawrence, Kofi Shaw.

Chesterfield: Harry Tyrer, Ryheem Sheckleford (Jeff King, 87), Tyrone Williams, Jamie Grimes, Branden Horton, Tom Naylor, Darren Oldaker (Bailey HobHarley Curtis, son, 78), Ollie Banks (Mike Jones, 83), Armando Dobra (Jesurun Uchegbulam, 75), Liam Mandeville (Triallist, 73), Will Grigg (Joe Quigley, 73).

Substitutes: Triallist (G/K), Luke Chadwick (G/K), Laurence Maguire, ??? Wilkinson, ??? Cook.

 

5th March 2024

Bristol Rovers

Newport County

Little is known about this behind closed doors friendly against a Newport County side managed by former Rovers boss Graham Coughlan.

However, it is known that the following Rovers players took part in the game; Matt Hall, Tristan Crama, James Connolly, Isaac Vassell, Harvey Greenslade, Ryan Jones, Kofi Shaw and Jerry Lawrence.

Vassell is a former Cardiff City striker who was training with the club and who had signed a short term contract with National League South side Bath City.