Aaron Collins bench call explained as Bristol Rovers coach explains substitute decisions

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Bristol Rovers used one substitution out of a possible five against Plymouth

Andy Mangan has revealed Bristol Rovers limited themselves to just one substitution as they tried to afford several first-team players a rest in their EFL Trophy defeat to Plymouth Argyle. The Gas first-team coach revealed that some of the substitutes had been carrying knocks and were not risked.

Rovers conceded two first-half goals to Ben Waine and Ryan Hardie inside an eight-minute spell with the Pilgrims through to the semi-finals. Harvey Saunders replaced Lewis Gordon at the break but that was the only substitution of the match.

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Joey Barton has not been afraid to make substitutions, especially at half-time when things aren’t going in their favour. The 40-year-old decided against it however with a League One match against Accrington Stanley on the horizon.

Saunders gave a good account of himself and had several opportunities to get on the score sheet. The former Fleetwood Town striker has been tipped to leave in this transfer window, but gave Barton food for thought.

“We made a few changes, a couple of lads have got a few knocks,” said Mangan who stood in for Joey Barton in the post-match press conference.

“I know you’ve seen them on the bench but they are carrying a few niggles so we tried not to use them with big games coming up and we tried to give them a bit of a rest. We still felt the lads who came into the team by far were good enough to get the result and job done tonight.

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"Tonight with the seven lads; James Belshaw, Scott Sinclair, Aaron Collins, Josh Coburn, Sam Finley and Paul Coutts. They have obviously been starting and have played an awful lot of games. They played Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday pretty much over Christmas. They needed a bit of a rest and they got it tonight. Hopefully, that will be a positive for Saturday."

The match was fairly even with both sides having 50% possession with Rovers shading it by just ten more passes. Rovers made ten shots with three landing on target to Plymouth’s 17 with their two on target landing in the back of the net.

“It wasn’t good enough,” Mangan said in his assessment of the match. Unfortunately we have conceded two goals in the first half. The first goal definitely came against the run of play and probably their first attack. We didn’t stop the first or the second cross and the ball gets looped up in the air. It might be a bit windy.

I’ll have to watch it back and can Anssi come out? Can Bobby Thomas get the first contact? Potentially. “It’s stuff that we have got to work at. It’s a simple ball down the side and we have got to be better.

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"A game of two halves, I think the lads competed in the second half and that’s probably the way the game should have gone. I don’t think they had an awful lot of chances. We had a couple of sniffs second-half. Harvey Saunders came on I thought he did ever so well.”

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