Bristol Rovers v Sunderland Betting Preview – Checkatrade Trophy March 5

Black Cats can book Wembley date at the Memorial Stadium

Football Betting

A date at Wembley with Portsmouth await the winners of this week’s second Checkatrade Trophy semi-final between Bristol Rovers and Sunderland at the Memorial Stadium, the second meeting between the sides in the space of two weeks.

Bristol Rovers Form

It’s been a difficult campaign for Bristol Rovers and the threat of relegation from League 1 still looms large, despite Saturday’s thumping 4-0 win over Blackpool which featured a hat-trick from former Coventry striker Jonson Clarke-Harris. That was a first win in four for The Gas and only a second victory in the calendar year for Graham Coughlan’s side. Their first came in the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy against League 2 strugglers Port Vale. Worryingly, they’ve not managed back-to-back victories since September and have the worst defensive record in League 1 by some considerable margin. They have twice been beaten finalists in the Checkatrade Trophy, however, and the competition is proving a welcome distraction from their current woes for their fans, who will pack out the Memorial Stadium again. But they’ll probably attend with more hope than expectation.

Sunderland Form

Sunderland topped their group in this competition and have made serene progress through the knockout rounds since. They are also well in the hunt for an immediate return to the Championship with a game in hand over the team just above them in the League 1 table – Barnsley. Considering they’ve not played at the third tier of English football since 1988, they have no pedigree in the Checkatrade Trophy but have had the squad numbers this season to attack on two fronts. In contrast to recent seasons, Jack Ross has made the Wearsiders tough to beat. Lee Cattermole, Aiden McGeady and Grant Leadbitter have all played at a much higher level and they’ve been able to shrug off the loss of top scorer Josh Maja in the January transfer window to remain unbeaten since just before Christmas. The Black Cats have won their last two without conceding a goal and have only conceding one in the Checkatrade Trophy so far in six matches so are clearly taking the competition seriously.

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland Head-to-Heads

Sunderland have already completed the league double over Bristol Rovers, winning 2-0 at the Memorial Ground last month. Their game at the Stadium Of Light last year was their first meeting since 2000, when Sunderland also won and scored twice.

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland Current Best Odds

Bristol Rovers 2/1, Draw 23/10, Sunderland 11/8 (Odds correct at 10.45am March 4)

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland Predictions

We are at the stage of this competition where the teams are taken it seriously. Rovers will have been boosted by Saturday’s big win but it is unlikely that the Sunderland defence will be as generous as that of Blackpool. The away side were easy winners at the same ground just a couple of weeks ago and seem to have rediscovered how to win matches. There is probably more to come from big-money signing Will Grigg and we expect the visitors to keep the back door shut again on their way to reaching the final. An away win is 11/8 with Betfred and Sunderland are 3/1 to Win To Nil with BetVictor. A 2-0 Correct Score is common in their matches and is 21/2, also with BetVictor.

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