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Match Previews

CHELTENHAM MATCH PREVIEW

3 October 2012

A look ahead to tonight's game

Following the relief of their first win of the season at Exeter on Saturday, Bristol Rovers will be looking to build on that result when they entertain Cheltenham Town tonight.

With 4 wins, 3 draws and just 2 defeats from their 9 games the Robins are flying high.

Having made the Play-Off Final last season expectations will be high at the Abbey Business Stadium that they can gain automatic promotion this season.  Their fine start to the season would seem to indicate that this may not be an unrealistic expectation.

Three former Gas players may very well line up for the Robins on Wednesday Steve Elliott, Darryl Duffy and Chris Zebroski. Steve Elliott has been a stalwart in the Gloucestershire team’s defence since taking the short move up the M5.

On Friday night it was star player Darren Carter who bagged a brace against Morecambe to take his team up to fifth in League Two. Cheltenham took the lead within 90 seconds of kick off as Carter's half-volley beat Barry Roche from 25 yards.

Morecambe saw two efforts cleared off the line during the first half by Elliott and Jombati which enabled the home team to take their lead in at the break. A red card for Kevin Ellison following an off the ball incident with Steve Elliott made Morecambe’s task more difficult.

The Robins finally confirmed all three points on 91 minutes when Mohamed broke on the counter attack and found Carter charging down the wing with a neat pass. Darren Carter dispatched it past Roche for 2-0, the win and all three points.

Talking after the game Cheltenham boss Mark Yates pinpointed Carter’s performance as one his team should emulate. He believes that his side's form is still "mediocre" and some members of his squad should look to the 28-year-old for inspiration.

"He (Carter) has played a lot higher than League Two in his career, but some of my players have to look at his enthusiasm. In the 93rd minute he's the one breaking into their box and scoring. He's fit, strong and a great pro and he was superb.

"For his first goal, the ball popped out to him and it was on his wrong foot, but he has enough quality to be able to strike it with the outside of his left and it caught the keeper off guard. His whole performance was top drawer."
 
Rovers’ home League record against the Robins is not a good one, having won 3, drawn 1 and lost 3 of the games played at the Mem. The last game between the teams in Bristol was played on 1 October last year and Mark Yates' side went on to produce one of their finest displays of the season to win 3-1.

Goals from Kaid Mohamed, Luke Summerfield and Jimmy Spencer stunned Rovers as the Robins stormed into form after a mixed start to the campaign.

Steve Elliott is now fully focused on helping Cheltenham do what he helped Rovers achieve in 2007: win promotion to League One. But he has special memories of his time at the Mem and it is reciprocated by Gasheads.

"I have good memories of last season's game down there, when we got a fantastic result," Elliott said, "I was given a great reception, and totally enjoyed the day so I want to repeat that on Wednesday night.

"When you play for a club you want to do well and make an impression on the fans. A lot of players are here, there and everywhere and they don't settle or build up a rapport with the fans. I was lucky enough to be able to do that at Rovers so it's great they acknowledge what I did there. I was proud to do it and proud to wear the shirt.

"I will be looking for three points, but maybe I'll have a chance for a sneaky pint with some old friends after the game."

He was disappointed to be released in the summer of 2010 by then boss Paul Trollope, but he is thoroughly enjoying his new challenge at Cheltenham.

"I would have been happy to stay there for longer because I am settled in Bristol, all my friends down there are Gasheads and I love the South West," added the former Derby County player.

"But I also love what the Gaffer and Neil (Howarth) are doing at Cheltenham. I like the management style, I love training and I want to achieve something with Cheltenham.

"If the Memorial Stadium gets going it's a fantastic place to play and they've made a few loan signings and picked up their first win, so we have to be fully focused."

Elliott could have almost smelt promotion in the Play-Off Final last season and it took a moment of magic by Nick Powell to put Crewe Alexandra on course to victory, while Byron Moore applied the killer touch eight minutes from time to end Mark Yates' promotion hopes.

Cheltenham more than matched the Railwayman on the day and created plenty of chances to stay in the game, but in the end it wasn't to be.

The result ruined the club's impeccable record in major showpieces in the last 14 years. They rattled the bar, saw two cleared off the line and fashioned a host of openings but ultimately slipped to their first defeat in nine play-off matches.

In 1989 Rovers used the pain of a Play Off defeat at Port Vale to sweep them on to a memorable Championship season. Mark Yates will be hoping his team can perform a similar feat.

Having expunged the hoodoo of the first victory of the season, Rovers will now be looking to follow up with a first home victory of the season. Whilst Tom Eaves and Derek Riordan did not appear on the scoresheet for Rovers there is no doubt that their presence played a great part in providing the goal threat that has been lacking so far this season.

Riordan's wife gave birth to a baby girl at 4am this morning, but the striker is determined to play in tonight's game.

A local derby against a high riding team should provide Rovers with a stern test of their abilities. Three points from the Robins could well set the Rovers season up.

Written by Gerry Prewett.

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