A look ahead to tomorrow's game
After three disappointing home results, this weekend Bristol Rovers travel East of London to take on table topping Gillingham.
Last season the Gills, for the seond season running, narrowly missed the Play-Offs and ambitious Chairman Paul Scally decided that a change in Manager was due.
Leading the Gills for those two untltimately unsuccessful season was local hero Andy Hessenthaler. Hasenthaler has moved up to become Director of Football and well seasoned veteran at this level Martin Allen has been brought in.
Hessenthaler commented earlier this week, "Martin will drive us forward. He knows the game, has got fantastic ideas and is a character.
"We had quite a lot of dialogue over the last few weeks and we've already hit it off, relationship-wise. Martin even asked if I would be his assistant manager. It was a nice offer but I declined that.”
Mark McGhee commenting on this weekend’s tussle noted, "They've got a decent home record but I've got a decent record against Gillingham during my time with Brighton and Millwall.
"They're a club I like. I've got no fears of going there and I look forward to it. I expect the players to do the same. I don't know if I've ever been on the same touchline as Martin Allen, but I know him and respect him.
"The last time I saw him he was bigger than me so I don't relish the thought of a fight with him."
Last weekend the Gills were at Barnet, Allen’s club right up until the end of last season. His team established an early lead when Jack Payne hit a spectacular opener followed by a Danny Kedwell header.
A Jack Saville header from a corner by Mark Byrne gave the North London side some hope. That was dashed as another close range header, this time by Deon Burton gave the Kent team their 3-1 victory.
The Gills have a 100% away record so far this season.
Martin Allen commented after the game, "It was always going to be a tough game. It was a banana skin waiting to happen. Going 2-0 up so early didn't help us because complacency set in. Barnet have got match winners and I knew they were going to be a threat.
"We stood firm and the supporters gave good backing. There were over 1,000 supporters singing their hearts out and it's good to be a part of a good decent honest group of professional footballers."
After 5 unbeaten games Allen is urging his players to look well beyond this, “(The unbeaten league run) has been good but I don’t want five games, I want 15 or 20, that’s the standards we have got to look for and try and achieve.
“I will reiterate to the players that we want to be unbeaten 10, 15, 20 games. We need to keep it going and to set our sights higher.
"I hear we have broken records for three away wins, as the best (away) start ever, but we want to create history and make proper markers and put flags down. The work had only just begun.”
Looking back over the past at games between the Gas and the Gills there has been a total of 98 games, with Rovers having the better record with 45 victories to the Gills 35.
They majority of the Gills’ victories have come at Priestfield where the record reads, Rovers 12 wins, 9 draws and 27 Gillingham wins.
The very first meeting took place at Priestfield on 29 Jan 1921 in the old Division Three with the home team winning the match 1-0 followed by a 2-0 reverse in the return fixture at Eastville a week later
Generally games between the Gas and the Gills are not high scoring with the average score over those 100 games being, 1.5 to Rovers and 1.3 to Gillingham. There have been some exceptions!
On 23 August 1995 Rovers ran out 4-2 winners over the Gills in a League Cup encounter at Twerton Park. A Stewart hat-trick and a goal from Miller completed Rovers score and Bailey and Fortune-West scored for the Kent team , after the teams had been tied 1-1 at half-time.
Back on 19 October 1968 Rovers ran riot beating the Gills by 5-1 at Eastville. You have to go back to 12 April 1952 to find a bigger victory, 5-0.
In Kent Rovers’ struggled in the 1980’s in 1984/85 and in 1986/87 they went down 4-1 as indeed they did last season. Conversely in 1970/71 they won 4-1 at Priestfield with Robin Stubbs memorably scoring all 4 goals.
Rovers last win in Kent was on 14 August 1999 when they won 1-0, they have lost all 4 games since.
Team news from the top of the table is that the Gills have completed the signing of Crystal Palace midfielder David Wright on a one-month loan deal.
Martin Allen said: "He can play in midfield or anywhere in defence and is another good senior player with a good work ethic to add to our squad."
This is a game in which Rovers can turn their season around. Their abandoned game at Wycombe showed that they were capable of doing well on the road.
Written by Gerry Prewett.