How Bristol Rovers’ rivals did their own business in the January transfer window

Mansfield’s acquisition of Matty Longstaff was a signing that caught the eye of League Two. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Mansfield’s acquisition of Matty Longstaff was a signing that caught the eye of League Two. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Mansfield’s acquisition of Matty Longstaff was a signing that caught the eye of League Two. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) | Getty Images
A number of clubs in League Two strengthened their squad to continue their good starts to the season

Bristol Rovers can say they had a fairly satisfactory January transfer window after recruiting in most areas that needed strengthening in.

An out-and-out number nine in Ryan Loft was signed early on from Scunthorpe United and then followed by young defender James Connolly to provide cover for the likes of Cian Harries and Alfie Kilgour.

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Later on Deadline Day, attacking midfielder Elliot Anderson was announced on a loan from Newcastle United.

We thought the business would stop there but a day after the window shut, Jon Nolan was brought in on a free transfer after his release from Ipswich Town.

And emerging this morning, it looks like striker Brett Pitman looks set to depart for National League side Eastleigh.

So on a whole, Rovers have been busy both in and out but how have the Gas’ League Two rivals fared in the transfer window?

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As we’re looking up rather than down in the table at the moment, we’ll look at the six teams above them and the two teams below them to get a feel for how the division did their business.

Mansfield Town

Nigel Clough’s side have had quite the window, having attracted two impressive loans to the Field Mill.

A deadline day signing from Newcastle United, the Stags were able to persuade Matty Longstaff to join on loan. Longstaff once scored the winning goal on his Premier League debut against Manchester United. He has also played the first-half of the season at Aberdeen.

As well as Longstaff, they also brought in experienced left winger Jamie Murphy from Hibernian, who is a two-time Scotland international that has played for the likes of Sheffield United and Brighton.

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They also brought in Kieran Wallace and Lucas Akins, both from Clough’s former side Burton Albion.

Swindon Town’s new loan star once scored against Liverpool’s stars. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)Swindon Town’s new loan star once scored against Liverpool’s stars. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Swindon Town’s new loan star once scored against Liverpool’s stars. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) | POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Swindon Town

Ben Garner’s side occupy the last play-off spot at the moment but are faltering after no wins in their last three matches.

They did suffer a blow when their second highest goalscorer Tyreece Simpson was recalled by Ipswich Town and didn’t return.

Swindon moved quickly though and took Aston Villa starlet Louie Barry on loan with the youngster spending the first part of the campaign at Ipswich. Barry scored for the Villains in the FA Cup against Liverpool when they had to field a youthful side due to COVID.

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As well as Barry, they also signed Swansea City centre-back Brandon Cooper on loan until the end of the season. Cooper was at Newport County last season and performed well for the Exiles. He wasn’t the only loan centre-back as Jake O’Brien was brought in also from Crystal Palace, Garner’s old stomping ground.

Striker Josh Davison was also loaned in from Charlton, as well as left-back Joe Tomlinson from Peterborough.

Exeter City

It was a fairly quiet month for Matty Taylor’s side who made just two signings in the window and they were both centre forwards.

Offrande Zanzala joined from league rivals Barrow after netting three goals in 19 appearances.

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Kieran Phillips then joined on loan from Huddersfield Town, having spent the first part of the season on loan at Walsall. Phillips was deployed as a winger but the Terriers saw him as a striker. The 21-year-old scored four goals for the Saddlers for the first part of the season.

Port Vale’s Kian Harratt made an impact, scoring against Brentford in the FA Cup. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)Port Vale’s Kian Harratt made an impact, scoring against Brentford in the FA Cup. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)
Port Vale’s Kian Harratt made an impact, scoring against Brentford in the FA Cup. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Port Vale

Darrell Clarke’s side reportedly had the chance to sign Ryan Loft but opted against it as it would have broken their wage structure.

Instead they opted to sign Kian Harratt from Huddersfield Town and Ryan Edmondson from Leeds United, both on loan.

It was quite a busy month for them as they also brought in Joel Cooper on loan from Oxford United, as well as highly-rated goalkeeper Tomas Holy from Ipswich Town.

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Centre-back Connor Hall was brought in from Harrogate, as well as midfielder Harry Charsley from Mansfield Town and right-back Sam Robinson from Manchester City.

They let both Danny Amos and Scott Burgess join Grimsby Town on a free transfer, as well as Danny Whitehead moving to Fylde. In return for Hall joining from Harrogate, Leon Legge made the move to Yorkshire. Devante Rodney was allowed to leave for Walsall.

Salford City

Salford City were probably in the same bracket as Bristol Rovers as being an underachieving side before the new year and so they have made moves in the transfer market to try and rectify that.

They made no fewer than four new signings in January, including the eye-catching signing of Matt Smith, who joined from Championship side Millwall.

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The 32-year-old has played mainly in the second tier and in League One and once had success at Bristol City in a loan spell, he has made more than 400 appearances in the Football League.

As well as Smith, they were also able to bring in right-sided midfielder Luke Bolton, who joined on a free transfer from Manchester City.

Rangers also loaned out central midfielder Stephen Kelly to them in addition to the signing of Ryan Watson, who is a defensive midfielder from Tranmere Rovers.

Bradford City

The Bantams were one of the busier teams in the transfer market and brought in seven recruits with most of them being on loan until the end of the season.

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Right-back Luke Hendrie joined from Charlton but there were also loans from Championship, League One and Scottish Premiership teams.

Left-sided winger Dion Pereira joined from Luton, Matty Daily was brought in from Huddersfield, then they strengthened in between the sticks with Alex Bass joining from Portsmouth.

Experienced attacker Jamie Walker made the move from Heart of Midlothian and followed both Tom Elliot, a centre-forward from Salford and Nathan Delfouenso, a striker from Bolton to Valley Parade.

Crawley Town

At John Yem’s Crawley, they weren’t a side that did much business and made just one permanent transfer, bringing in Taylor Seymour on a free transfer from non-league Burgess Hill.

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They were also able to recruit Aussie central midfielder Caleb Watts from Southampton’s academy team, as well as Isaac Hutchinson from Derby County.

Crawley did let a number of players leave though including Tom Dallison to Colchester United, but other than that the other departures were mainly to non-league sides.

Harrogate Town

As mentioned in Port Vale’s business, it was somewhat of a swap as they signed experienced defender Leon Legge and in the other direction went Connor Hall.

Legge’s arrival at the age of 36 was an anomaly from their transfer business as they mainly recruited young players from higher division clubs.

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They twice went to Huddersfield Town as they recruited attacking midfielders Brahima Diarra an Josh Austerfield from their ‘B’ side.

Centre-back Lewis Richards was signed on loan from the under-23’s side of Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst Calum Kavanagh, the son of former Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic midfieler Graham, joined from Middlesbrough’s under-18s.

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