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FOCUS ON CHELTENHAM

31 December 2013

A look at tomorrow's opponents

Bristol Rovers entertain Cheltenham Town in a New Years’ Day derby game at the Mem. Games between the teams are always close with never more than 2 goals between the teams and no team has scored more than 3 goals.

On the weekend the Robins’ 11-match unbeaten run came to a shock end when they went down to Mansfield Town at the Abbey Business Stadium.

The Nottinghamshire team had gone without a win in their previous 13 League Two games. Cheltenham were rocked in the 21st minute when Mansfield’s Anthony Howell found the bottom right corner with a shot from just outside the penalty area.

Then right on half time the visitors doubled their lead when Matt Rhead used his strength to reach James Jennings' corner at the far post.

It took almost 45 second-half minutes for Cheltenham's Sido Jombati to convert Kemar Roofe's corner for a consolation goal.

Expressing his disappointment with his team’s performance Cheltenham Boss Mark Yates commented, "It's the first time in a couple of months that we have not been good enough. We have been able to look each other in the eye every day since losing to Tamworth, but not enough of us could do that today and we haven't done our jobs properly.

“Mansfield have done a job on us and stopped us playing, but we didn't help ourselves by not moving the ball quickly enough. We had plenty of chances in the first half, but we have gifted them a second goal and the 46th minute is a bad time to concede.

"We have come out intending to have a right go, but it didn't really materialise and we probably got what we deserved. We have not got into any sort of pattern or tempo.

"From the first minute we knew what it was going to be like, but we fell into a trap and it was just a frustrating afternoon. They have played their game and we have got outfought and out-battled and that doesn't happen too often."

Rovers’ home League record against the Robins is poor, having won 3, drawn 1 and lost 4 of the games played at the Mem. Last season the Robins took all three points when former Gas player Chris Zebroski made the most of an error from Garry Kenneth who failed to see the high ball into the box.

Neil Etheridge was on hand to block the first shot, but Zebroski rifled home from close range.

The season before 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. 

Rovers’ last home win was on 27 January 2009 when goals by Darryl Duffy, Craig Disley and Joe Jacobson provided Rovers with a 3-2 victory.

Prior to the Mansfield game Cheltenham keeper Scott Brown was looking for his team to make it three League Two wins in a row for the first time in two years. The Robins secured a 2-0 victory at Fleetwood and followed up with a 1-0 home win over Exeter on Boxing Day.

"Results and performances have definitely helped our confidence, but we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Brown said. "We have a tough game against a direct Mansfield side now and we know they'll put the ball into our box and we have to defend it. The style has worked for them over the past couple of years and they started this season well, so we know what we are up against and it's going to be a tough game."

"There would have been no point winning at Fleetwood and then not backing it up with a win at home on Boxing Day and we managed to do that against Exeter," he said, "Hopefully we can make it back-to-back home wins now because I can't remember the last time we won three in a row and we didn't do it throughout last season.”

"We are creeping up the table slowly and nobody is talking about us. Last season, teams gave us respect and sat back against us at Whaddon Road, but they are not doing it as much now and that's fine by us."

Written by Gerry Prewett

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