Bristol Rovers take the long trek up the M5/M6 to visit Accrington Stanley off the back of a chastening 3-1 mid-week defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
Rovers’ first half performance in west London saw any chance of them scoring points from this game go out the window. With the possibility that Gary Kenneth may be out injured and Tom Parkes out suspended after his red card Mark McGhee will be struggling with the centre of the defence.
McGhee was especially annoyed with Parkes for his sending off as his second yellow was for a rash challenge on Luke Moore, as he said, “I had a word with Tom after the game on Tuesday, it was the first thing I said when we got into the dressing room, and I have just given him volley just now. I am still upset and angry that he was foolish enough to let us down like that.”
The big news from Accrington this week is the departure of Manager Paul Cook to Chesterfield, on Thursday. John Coleman spent almost 13 years as Accrington Stanley boss, but the reign of replacement Paul Cook ended almost as soon as it began.
The Reds took 17 points from their first nine games this season to sit fourth in the table. However their momentum stalled badly in the last fortnight, with four straight defeats seeing them slip to 16th in the table, just three points and four positions above Rovers.
Cook’s overall record in charge at the Crown Ground included 18 defeats compared to only eight wins. Assistant manager Leam Richardson has taken caretaker charge of the team as the club assess options for the future
When Rovers visited the Crown ground on 5 November last year little did Paul Buckle realise that it was to be the start of fireworks for him. A defeat that day was the beginning of a run of 8 games during which Rovers were to pick up just 2 points and culminated in his sacking.
Stanley were in a poor run of form and were looking for their first league victory in six but their nerves were allayed when they took the lead after just five minutes. Micah Richard, making his debut on loan from Blackburn, was given too much space and ran past three players before beating Scott Bevan at his near post.
Accrington's second goal came after 30 minutes, when they home side were again given far too much time and space. Kevin Long got on the end of Peter Murphy's free kick and volleyed it into the far top corner from the edge of the box.
Rovers got themselves back in the game with a goal early in the second half, with their first real shot on target. Carayol made a great run down the wing before putting in a quality delivery along the floor to Anyinsah.
The winger hit the ball low and hard and into the back of the net. Despite having more of the ball Rovers were unable to breach the Stanley defence and returned from Lancashire pointless.
Rovers and Stanley have played one another 6 times before. The very first time was an FA Cup tie on 14 December 1929 at Eastville, the home team running out 4-1 winners. Four years later at the same stage Rovers visited Peel Park and came back out of the Cup, losing 1-0.
Fast forward over 70 years before the rejuvenated Stanley were back into the League after their 1961 demise and visited Bristol once again.
The very first league meeting again took place in December 23 2006. Once again Rovers hit 4 goals but this time Stanley were scoreless. The return game in Lancashire on 6 March ended in a 1-1 tie. After the 2-1 loss in Lancashire last season, Rovers finished their home programme with a flourish as they disposed of Stanley with a 5-1 victory.
In their latest game on Tuesday the Reds slumped to their fourth successive League Two defeat after an 83rd minute goal from York's Jason Walker. Matty Blair went close from 20 yards and Walker's effort was blocked by George Miller as the visitors made the early running.
Clarke Carlisle had an effort saved on the line by keeper Ian Dunbavin, while Padraig Amond sent a header wide for the hosts at the other end. Walker’s late strike came at the end of a scrappy move.
With Rovers looking to get their own season back on track a much better performance than the first half at Wimbledon will be required.
Written by Gerry Prewett.