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Stuart Dalgleish 14th Feb 2010 - 15:08

Can Rovers return to winning ways?

Bristol Rovers and Charlton Athletic battle it out for the Sky cameras on Monday night in what is a game that both teams can't afford to lose if they wish to gain promotion to the Championship.

The expectations are understandably higher for Charlton as they were only relegated into this division last season, for Rovers it's fair to say their fans won't be demanding to go up but with a run of just one win in eight games they will certainly be expecting their team to stop the rot and try get back into the play-off picture.

To give credit to Paul Trollope and his side though they've done well just to be in contention, after seeing a player who scored goals galore for them last year (Rickie Lambert) leave they, similarly with Swindon Town and Simon Cox, could easily have suffered but they started the season in fine form with just two defeats in their opening ten league games to get the Memorial faithful dreaming about a battle for the top two.

Sadly for the Gas though the winter was bleak and automatic promotion is now unfeasible, a crack at the top six is certainly within reach though, they just need to start hitting the back of the net again.

The gaffer has acknowleged the lack of fire power and brought in Paul Heffernan, who played for their arch rivals City a few seasons ago, the on-loan Doncaster man is likely to line-up alongside Jo Kuffour, but after that it's anyone's guess as to who will play where!

Rovers have had such bad luck with injuries that many players have had to show their versatility by operating in different positions; with the likes of Jeff Hughes filling in at left back and midfield anchorman Stuart Campbell featuring at right back.

They've both been missed in midfield as they add so much to the goals for column, shown by the fact the Pirates have only actually scored in two of their last eight games, another loan signing Wayne Brown will hope to pick up from where Campbell left off by getting balls into the opposition box and creating chances.

Charlton in comparison to Rovers have had no such worries with injuries, so much so that the substitutes for their recent game with Swindon included such quality as Miguel Angel Llera and Jose Semedo as well as a host of attacking options in Deon Burton, Dave Mooney and Leon McKenzie, not bad options to choose from for a third tier club.

Burton is the club's top scorer, but Phil Parkinson is clearly not entirely happy with him and the rest of the Addicks strike force, and he's changed the formation on more than one occasion recently in the hope of finding a perfect formula to end their indifferent run and to try get back in to the top two.

I fear for the Valley faithful it might be a formula that doesn't succeed, as even though Leeds have been faltering recently, they should still realistically finish in the automatic promotion spots whether it's first or second and Charlton will be left with something that their Yorkshire friends have been used to recently - the dreaded play-offs.

Before they can even start to think about what might be come the end of the season though, they have to try put an end to their run of four without a win at Bristol Rovers.

The home team are 2/1 to win what would also be their first in four, neither team really want a draw after their poor runs but that's a 9/4 chance while Charlton are 7/5 shots to get all three points and complete a league double over the Pirates.

The smart money would certainly be on the draw, but purely because of the new forward line that Trollope hopes to have in operation I'd be leaning slightly more towards Rovers as I think they will just bring some fresh ideas to the Bristol outfit, so Draw No Bet on Bristol Rovers at 11/10 would be where I'd be placing my hard earned.

One of the new players that the Pirates will be showcasing is Heffernan, the loanee hasn't had that many 90 minutes under his belt so will be keen to show his third manager of the season that he should be a regular starter, there would be no better way to prove it with the opening goal of the game and that's a 13/2 chance, he's 15/8 to score at any point of the match.

Charlton may have chopped and changed their forward line, but in midfield there is one name that is almost constant - Nicky Bailey, the all-action captain is tempting at 8/1 to notch the first of the evening, 11/4 to get on the scoresheet at any time of the game.

It should be a really close encounter, make sure you join us to bet In-Play on a wealth of live betting opportunities from this League 1 clash.



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