How Ellis Harrison has fared against Bristol Rovers ahead of return with Port Vale

The Gas academy graduate will face his former club for just the third time since leaving in 2019

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Ellis Harrison will make his return to the Memorial Stadium this weekend as Bristol Rovers host Port Vale. Harrison is on the books of the Valiants, who are managed by Gas hero Darrell Clarke.

Much has changed since Harrison departed for Ipswich Town in 2018, he has gone on to play for two separate clubs after that. Numerous times, he has been linked with a return, but has instead gone elsewhere.

Here we take a look at the story of the former Rovers striker, detailing what he did during his time at the club, what he did after and how his record is when playing against the club that gave him his first start.

What is Ellis Harrison’s Rovers story?

Harrison, born in Newport, came through the academy at the Gas, and began his senior career at the club. The Welsh forward spent eight contracted seasons as a Rovers player, biding his time before becoming an integral part of the back-to-back promotion winning team.

He made his debut as a substitute for Jo Kuffor in a 1-0 defeat at Southampton in April 2011, with Stuart Campbell granting him an opportunity. He would go an entire campaign without playing though before appearing again after Rovers’ relegation to League Two.

A teenager at the time, John Ward gave him his first real opportunity and on his first league start, set up Danny Woodards, and later that month, he scored his first goal, netting in a win against Rotherham.

In an ill-fated campaign in 2013/14, Harrison only scored once in 29 games with Rovers relegated to the non-league. He stayed around despite their relegation and scored 20 goals in 40 games, as Rovers won promotion against Grimsby Town, beating them on penalties in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium.

Harrison was in and out of the team in the first eason back in the Football League and he was permitted to join rivals Hartlepool United, but returned after a month. Harrison returned and netted an important goal against Northampton Town, helping the club get promoted through goal difference.

Harrison found his feet in League One, and scored eight goals in 37 league matches, as Rovers secured their place in the division. He followed up with scoring 12 goals in 44 matches.

His form would attract the attention of Ipswich Town, in the Championship at the time. A move would take place and at the time of his departure, he earned Rovers a reported £750,000. In total, he scored 52 goals across 205 league and cup matches, playing in League One as well as the Conference.

What has he done since?

Harrison played 17 times in total for the Tractor Boys, scoring once having joined on a two-year deal. He suffered an ankle ligament injury that had him sidelined and a change in manager saw his time at Portman Road come to an end.

Harrison moved to Portsmouth for a cut-price from what Ipswich had spent on him with Kenny Jackett, a long-term admirer. In his first campaign he scored ten goals in 39 matches, but the season was curtailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He followed his first season up at Pompey with six goals in 31 matches, but the Hampshire club missed out on promotion.

He remained at Fratton Park for half a season in 2021/22, scoring four goals in 14 matches, but was sold to Joey Barton’s former club Fleetwood Town, where he scored six goals in 18 matches, helping them to survival.

He remained at Fleetwood this summer, but was sold after just two games and is now at Port Vale, where he has reunited with Clarke, who he worked under at Rovers. At the time of writing, he has scored seven goals in 15 matches, which is just five goals shy of his career best.

What is his record against Rovers?

In Harrison’s first match against his former club, he made a one minute outing in a 2-2 draw, replacing John Marquis, who’s now on the books at Rovers. Marquis supplied Gareth Evans and Ronan Curtis with their goals, but Alex Rodman pulled one back and Craig MacGillivray conceded an own goal. Rovers were due to play Pompey in the return fixture in April, but the match didn’t take place.

The following season, Rovers defeated Portsmouth 3-1 with Marquis opening the scoring for the visitors, but a Jonah Ayunga brace and a Luke Leahy penalty gave Ben Garner’s side the victory. Harrison came on in the 65th minute but could not affect the outcome of the match.

In the return fixture at Fratton Park in April, Portsmouth won 1-0 but Harrison wasn’t in the squad as Ronan Curtis’ goal relegated Rovers. Saturday’s clash will be the fourth opportunity for Harrison to play against his former club, and so far Harrison’s had to settle for a place on the bench.