Antony Evans and Bobby Thomas both scored in between Aaron Collins’ first-half opener and stoppage-time goal to give the Gas an unassailable first-half lead. Former Bristol Rovers midfielder Liam Sercombe scored from the spot after Sam Finley was adjudged to have fouled Ryan Jackson in the box.
Sercombe’s penalty was the only gloss off of what was an otherwise important win for Joey Barton’s side who have built up form at the right time. They have beaten the teams they have needed to after a nine-game winless run and now approach a tough period of fixtures. The likes of league leaders Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield Wednesday and promotion favourites Derby County are up next in the remainder of October.
Rovers’ current league position is 11th which was the highest prediction anyone had made before a ball had been kicked. The target for this season is to avoid relegation in Barton’s eyes, whether that’s just outside the relegation zone or well above it.
With the injury situation easing and centre-back James Connolly to return shortly, Gasheads are beginning to look up the league table rather than worry about the teams below them. It is early days and they enter a tricky period but when a team is on form, strange results are thrown up.
FiveThirtyEight, who specialise in using statistics and football data to work the outcome of matches and final league positions, have tried to guess the remainder of the campaign. The season is just 14 games young for Rovers which is just over the quarter mark of the season and mid-table would be a respectable outcome. There are a few things to consider however as it does not account for any injuries to key players that may appear whilst the January transfer window could drastically change things.
Rovers have also thrown up anomalies as to trying to predict things as seen with their promotion from League Two last season. Barton’s men were 17th at the turn of the New Year and went on to claim the last automatic spot in the last ten minutes of the season.
As for their current predictions, they believe that Rovers will finish in 17th position come May. They would be the second highest out of the four promoted teams with Exeter City above them by two places and Port Vale below them in 18th whilst Forest Green Rovers would finish 22nd. Cheltenham after suffering their heavy defeat would be tipped to stay up by a point as they get to grips with the new manager Wade Elliott.
At the opposite end of the table, current league leaders Plymouth Argyle would go up alongside Sheffield Wednesday who trail them by five points. Ipswich Town who are second and four points behind the Pilgrims would have to go through the route of the play-offs. Bolton Wanderers, another one of the big hitters in the third tier would miss out on the end-of-season play-offs by four points to nearest placed Barnsley.
FiveThirtyEight’s League One predictions
- 1st: Sheffield Wednesday - 92 points, +46 GD
- 2nd: Plymouth Argyle -92 points, +36 GD
- 3rd: Ipswich Town - 89 points, +39 GD
- 4th: Portsmouth - 81 points, +28 GD
- 5th: Derby County - 81 points, +27 GD
- 6th: Barnsley - 78 points, +22 GD
- 7th: Bolton Wanderers - 74 points, +16 GD
- 8th: Peterborough United - 72 points, +19 GD
- 9th: Wycombe Wanderers - 69 points, +11 GD
- 10th: Lincoln City - 64 points, -1 GD
- 11th: Shrewsbury Town - 64 points, -4 GD
- 12th: Charlton Athletic - 63 points, +5 GD
- 13th: Oxford United - 62 points, +1 GD
- 14th: Fleetwood Town - 56 points, -8 GD
- 15th: Exeter City - 55 points, -7 GD
- 16th: MK Dons - 55 points, -8 GD
- 17th: Bristol Rovers, 53 points, - 16 GD
- 18th: Port Vale - 53 points, -18 GD
- 19th: Accrington Stanley - 50 points, - 22 GD
- 20th: Cheltenham Town - 50 points, -22 GD
- 21st: Cambridge United - 49 points, - 27 GD
- 22nd: Forest Green Rovers - 41 points, - 41 GD
- 23rd: Burton Albion - 39 points, - 36 GD
- 24th: Morecambe - 37 points, -41 GD