How Blackpool’s opening day opponents Bristol Rovers have fared this summer
Excitement is well and truly building among Blackpool fans with the new season just five days away.
Bristol Rovers will be the visitors to Bloomfield Road in what will be the Seasiders’ first competitive game under the ownership of Simon Sadler.
Here The Gazette takes a look at their opening day opponents:
How did the Gas get on last season?
Bristol Rovers survived a relegation scare to eventually finish in 15th place, four points above the dropzone.
Their fight for survival came down to the penultimate day of the season where their third tier status was confirmed with a hard-earned 0-0 draw at Fleetwood Town.
A run of four straight defeats in November and December, leaving the club second from bottom in the division, saw former boss Darrell Clarke given the chop.
He was initially replaced by Graham Coughlan on an interim basis but after an encouraging period at the helm, he was later given the gig full-time.
Despite their mixed league form, Bristol Rovers still managed to enjoy two thumping victories against the Seasiders, boasting an aggregate score of 7-0.
They took advantage of Pool’s tiredness following their Carabao Cup exploits against Arsenal to win 3-0 at Bloomfield Road in November.
In the return game at the Memorial Stadium in March, they were comfortable 4-0 winners with striker Jonson Clarke-Harris bagging a hat-trick.
Away from their league struggles, there was better news in the EFL Trophy where they reached the semi-final stage where they were narrowly beaten by Sunderland.
What business have Rovers done this season?
Graham Coughlan has been busy in the transfer market so far this summer, bringing in eight new players in total - six on free transfers and another two on season-long loans.
A goalkeeper named Jordi van Stappershoef is perhaps the most-eye catching arrival, the 23-year-old making the move to England from Dutch side Volendam.
Tom Davies has arrived from Coventry City, Luke Leahy from Walsall and Mark Little from Bolton Wanderers alongside Josh Hare (Eastleigh) and Anssi Jaakkola (Reading).
Strikers Tyler Smith and Victor Adeboyejo have joined on loan from Sheffield United and Barnsley respectively.
In terms of outgoings, it is perhaps unsurprising given last season’s relegation scare to see as many as 13 players depart.
Tom Lockyer will be a big miss, the defender uprooting to join Championship newcomers Charlton Athletic. Chris Lines, Stefan Payne and former Blackpool goalkeeper Sam Slocombe are also among those to have left.
Coughlan’s men will line up against a player they were chasing this summer in centre back Ryan Edwards, who opted to make the move to the Fylde Coast instead.
Rovers’ biggest fight might be to keep hold of their in-demand striker Jonson Clarke-Harris, who scored 11 times in 16 games after signing from Coventry City.
He has been linked with Hull City amongst a host of other Championship and League One clubs, despite not featuring at all in pre-season after undergoing surgery.
The Gas opened their account with a resounding 10-1 victory against non-league minnows Yate Town, before enjoying a similar thrashing - this time 7-0 - against Irish side St Mochta's FC.
A 1-1 draw at Kidderminster Harriers followed before a 2-0 win against Bath City. Coughlan’s men suffered back-to-back defeats once they stepped up the quality of their opposition, losing 2-1 to Birmingham City and 3-0 to Swansea City.
Their pre-season preparations then ended with a 1-0 victory against Plymouth Argyle at the weekend.
Predicted line-up: Jaakkola, Little, Craig, Davies, Leahy, Upson, Clarke, Sercombe, Rodman, Bennett, Nichols