The build-up to Rovers' 2009-10 season involved nine warm-up games, five of which were first team fixtures and the remaining four were played by reserve/youth sides. In addition to these, there were two cancelled games. These were both reserve team games that were called off because of adverse weather conditions. The details of all of these matches is given below, together with the lineups for the first team games.
|16 July||Clevedon Town a||Away||Cancelled b|
|18 July||Torquay United||Away||4–1||1,335||Duffy (2), Swallow and Rigg|
|18 July||Kidderminster Harriers a||Away||3–?||White, Maggs, Parker|
|21 July||Cheltenham Town||Away||2–2||Lambert (pen), Hughes|
|22 July||Bath City a||Away||2–1||Rigg (2)|
|24 July||Crystal Palace||Home||0–3|
|28 July||Hereford United||Away||2–1||651||Kuffour (2)|
|29 July||Weston-super-Mare a||Away||Cancelled b|
|1 August||Paulton Rovers a||Away||1–4||Plummer|
|3 August||Liverpool XI||Home||4–3||Kuffour, Lambert, Anthony (2)|
|4 August||Llanelli a||Away||2–5||207||Rigg, White|
a These matches were played, or due to be played, by a Bristol Rovers XI consisting of reserve and/or youth team players.
b The Clevedon and Weston games were cancelled due to waterlogged pitches.
The first game of the 2009 pre-season was due to be against Clevedon Town at the Hand Stadium on Thursday 16 July. It was to feature Rovers' first year professionals, as well as a number of players from the youth team, but heavy rain during the afternoon of the game forced its cancellation.
The first friendly of the buildup to the 2009-10 campaign was at Torquay United on Saturday 18 July, where Rovers ran out comfortable 4–1 winners. Ben Swallow, making his first team debut, and Darryl Duffy gave Rovers a 2–0 lead inside 20 minutes, before a rash challenge by Byron Anthony led to a Torquay penalty, which Nicky Wroe converted. The challenge left Anthony injured and he was replaced by Sean Rigg, who was put into midfield while Swallow dropped back into the defence. A second goal by Duffy on 40 minutes gave Rovers a 3–1 lead at the break.
Coach Paul Trollope made seven substitutions at the break, replacing everyone except Rigg, Charlie Reece, Carl Regan and Aaron Lescott. Only one more goal was to follow in the second half, scored by Sean Rigg after 82 minutes.
While the senior side were facing Torquay, the youth side had their first run out of the season against a Kidderminster Harriers youth team. Newly-appointed head of youth Darren Patterson led the youngsters to victory in his first game in charge, thanks to goals from Joe White, Robbie Maggs and Lewis Parker.
A first half penalty by Rickie Lambert and a 54th minute goal from Jeff Hughes were cancelled out by second half strikes from Tom Denton and ex-Gas player Justin Richards, resulting in a 2–2 draw. In all five former Rovers players took to the field for Cheltenham – Barry Hayles started the game, and Richards, Josh Low, Elvis Hammond and Julian Alsop all came on as substitutes.
The second game for a second-string Rovers XI was be played at the Pirates' former home ground at Twerton Park on 22 July against Bath City. The Rovers side, which consisted mainly of fringe squad players with a few youth team members added to the mix, ran out 2–1 victors thanks to two first half goals from Sean Rigg. The Bath side, which featured former Rovers players Lewis Hogg and Marcus Browning scored a consolation goal late in the game through Darren Edwards.
The first of two friendlies to be played at home took place on 24 July, when Crystal Palace traveled to the Memorial Stadium. The game ended in a 3–0 defeat for Rovers. Although the consensus seemed to be that the scoreline flattered Palace, Rovers created few chances in front of goal, and the game highlighted several weaknesses that needed to be worked on before the start of the season. Palace's goals were scored by Freddie Sears, Neil Danns and Alessane N'Diaye.
Rovers' penultimate warm-up game was played at Edgar Street on 28 July, where they faced a Hereford United side that featured recently released ex-Pirate Ryan Green, as well as former Rovers loanee Richard Rose. A crowd of 651 people turned up to the game, including a traveling contingent of 86 fans.
The first half was a goalless affair, but the scoring started quickly after the break, thanks to Jo Kuffour netting in the second minute of the second half. Rovers doubled their lead in the 65th minute, Kuffour bagging his second goal of the game, before Hereford scored a consolation goal through Franck Padovani eight minutes later.
A game for the youth/reserve team was to be played against Weston-super-Mare on 29 July at Woodspring Park, but it became the second pre-season game to fall victim to the weather. Heavy rain falling for the whole of the day of the game made the pitch unplayable, and led to it being called off.
Former Rovers loanee Rhys Evans was due to play in this game for the Pirates. He had been on trial with the club, and was hoping to earn a contract following the season-long loan of Mike Green to Gloucester City.
A youth team took on Paulton Rovers on 1 August, and were heavily beaten by the non-league side. A single goal from Neikell Plummer wasn't enough to earn a result, and the match ended in a 4–1 defeat.
|It was a youth team, some were still at school two weeks ago and some under
16, that played today against a strong Paulton Rovers team and the score line was a bit harsh on the youngsters.
We were a goal down within the first two minutes when a free kick outside the penalty box went over the head of defenders, attackers and our goalkeeper and ended up in the back of the net. We were denied a clear penalty when Plummer went round the goalkeeper and was felled by the goalkeeper but the ref waved aside the obvious penalty. A second goal was added by Paulton before Plummer hit a fierce drive into the net. Just before half time Paulton added a third goal.
The second half became a bit more physical on both sides but the ref who appeared to be very young was not taking a firm enough line. Finally, one of our players was scythed down from behind and this resulted in a booking, the first I have seen this season. Later a Rovers player was also booked for what may have been a "comment" to the ref, probably about his bias with regard to some decisions. A forth goal followed towards the end of the game.
Three of Paulton s goals were very good shots and this was the main difference between the two sides, A good work out for the youngsters with Tyrrell making a good impression in the second half.
BRFC - Ben(?), Cooper, Bowle, Booth, Kingdon, Tillson, McKenna, Camm, Plummer, Maggs, Clarke. Subs - Cayford, Tyrrell, Rhoden, Parker, Richards, Butler
A second-string Liverpool side, consisting mainly of youth team players, provided Rovers' final pre-season opponents in 2009. The game was played on 3 August at the Mem, and first half goals from Jo Kuffour and Rickie Lambert plus a second half brace from Byron Anthony was enough to earn Rovers a 4–3 win in an entertaining match.
|A very entertaining match, yes that is part of why we go to watch games.
The one player in the Liverpool team that stood out by a country mile was Hammill, I'd love to have him playing for us. Unfortunately it looks as if he could be off to Barnsley on loan.
Liverpool provided a good opposition although to be honest I never thought we were under any major pressure apart for three stunning goals, two cracking shoots outside the penalty area.
Our new goalkeeper Forster was never really tested, I do not think he could be blamed for any of the goals. Coles had a full 90 minutes and is getting better all the time. Anthony had a good game both in defence and attack. It looks like the starting eleven could be the team to start on Saturday, if Blizzard and Elliott are not fully fit.
So it looks as if Steve Phillips may have played his last first team game for the club. If so, I'd thank him for his time here. He has been one of our better keepers over the last ten years and can go with his head held high. Will be going to Llanelli, will Steve be in goal or will we see Rhys Evans who is still with us at the moment?
Looking forward to Saturday with some optimism, just hope we do well over the first five league games to set up a good crack at the top seven.
The reserves faced a strong Llanelli team on 4 August, in the final game in the lead-up to the 2009-10 season. Rovers were comprehensively beaten 5–2 by the Welsh side, with the Pirates' goals coming from Sean Rigg and Joe White.
|Where do I start.
I went to last years pre-season friendly at Llanelli when we lost 2-0 in very wet conditions against a very strong Llanelli team. Tonight it was dry during the game and I was anticipating a good performance as Llanelli were due to play Cardiff City tomorrow and thought they would field a weakened team. Wrong, they fielded a full strength team as Cardiff's game was cancelled due to flu in the Cardiff camp. Llanelli had Jason Bowen, Andy Legg and Steven Jenkins and a few other ex pros in their team.
We started well and Hunt had an early chance when he lobed the goalkeeper but he got a finger tip to it when I thought it was going in.We went behind but drew level with a cracking goal from Rigg. Just on half time Joe White scored a well worked goal to put us ahead.
During the second half we started shipping goals at an alarming rate. Several substitutions weaken the team further and we began to really struggle. Rigg and Swallow had good games and Hunt was a lot more effective than at Torquay. Blizzard was taken off at half time and to be honest he needs a lot more games and I'd be amazed if he starts on Saturday in place of Lines. What do I say about Williams without sounding nasty, the best I can say is that when he was taken off towards the end of the game his absence was not noticed. The lad is really going to struggle to find another team to take him on. Rhys Evans was competent and I do not think he could be faulted for any of the goals. Mark Cooper continues to show promise.
The attendance was 207, including one sad Gashead. The team sheet showed the manager as Lenny Lawrence, but I can confirm that Paul was there with Lenny. *s*
To sum up, there was no one on display who will be in the starting eleven on Saturday although I expect Rigg and Swallow to be on the seven man bench. I'm glad that I am staying here tonight and not having to drive back after that defeat. I am sure that Saturday will be much happier.