A look ahead to tomorrow's game
This weekend Bristol Rovers entertain Wycombe Wanderers in a game which may not be high profile but it will certainly be high vis!!
Seeking their first victory of the season back in August Rovers were leading 3-1 when a cloudburst over Adams Park led to torrential conditions. What made the abandonment so unusual was that the call was made by the Wycombe Health and Safety Officer as the stand in which the GasHeads were housed was struck by lightning.
Rest assured Gasheads with their usual gallows humour will be attending the Mem in high vis and hard hats. They won’t be difficult to spot in the crowd.
There has been a degree of uncertainty created at Adams Park as the Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth is amongst the bookmakers' favourites to replace Graham Westley as Preston North End manager.
The former Stevenage chief stepped down after the mid-week 3-1 defeat by Yeovil Town left the freefalling Lilywhites just five points clear of the relegation zone.
Ainsworth has hero status at Deepdale after three spells as a player there and the bookies believe he's amongst the front-runners to replace Westley after transforming Blues' fortunes.
On Tuesday night the Buckinghamshire team had their five-match unbeaten streak brought to an end by Bradford City. The Blues had won their previous three games and were confident after demolishing York City 4-0 on Saturday.
Ainsworth's game-plan went out the window within 60 seconds of kick-off as Wanderers failed to deal with a long throw and the ball fell to Nathan Doyle who rifled in a half-volley to put the visitors 1-0 up.
There was no shortage of chances for Wycombe in the opening 20 minutes, but they lost the advantage by giving away needless free-kicks, one of which earned the combative Josh Scowen a booking. That yellow, seconds before the half-time whistle, was the midfielder’s tenth of the campaign and will rule him out of this weekend’s game.
With just ten minutes left on the clock Bradford substitute James Hanson collected the ball on the edge of the area and delicately shifted the ball to Will Atkinson who fired home to double the advantage.
Within two minutes it was three as Hanson again caused problems in the Blues defence and went down under the challenge of Dave Winfield to win his side a late penalty. Doyle sent Jordan Archer the wrong way from the spot to make it three for the visitors without reply and put the result beyond doubt.
Looking at the history of games between Rovers and Wycombe the ledger is even with 13 Rovers wins, 4 draws and 13 wins to the Chairboys. It was a Wycombe away win that was one of the most significant results in the history of Bristol Rovers. On 2 May 2001 a spectacular Dannie Bulman strike sent Rovers to the basement Division for the first time ever.
Prior to this season the last league clash came on 29 August 2009 when two stunning strikes from Jon-Paul Pittman and Matt Phillips secured a 2-1 win for the home team and gave Peter Taylor his only win as Blues' boss in League One.
On 9 November 2010 Jo Kuffour who is now in a Chairboys shirt, had a game to remember at Adams Park in a JPT tie. His two first half goals set Rovers up for what looked like a good away win, but on 58 minutes, Scott Rendell pulled one back for the Bucks team. Within a minute Kuffour had hit back to restore Rovers two goal lead and to complete his hat-trick.
Chris Lines added goal number four with a surging run into the area which took him past three home defenders and he comfortably beat Bull from eight yards. Rovers fifth goal came from the penalty spot after Alan Bennett brought down Kuffour and Hughes sent Bull the wrong way with his spot kick.
A foul on Rendell by Lines enabled the home striker to add his second goal of the evening from the penalty spot on 83 minutes. Five minutes later Rendell completed his hat trick when he headed home a cross from Matt Bloomfield.
That wasn't the end of the scoring as Ben Swallow got in on the act, cutting in from the right and unleashing an unstoppable shot that flew past Bull and into the roof of the net and secure a 6-3 away win.
Whatever side Wycombe field Rovers will have to be wary. Their record on Bristol speaks for itself with 6 wins from 13 games. Rovers cannot afford to put in anything less than 100% if they are to overcome the Chairboys.
Speaking after that mid-week defeat Gareth Ainsworth told his players "Don't be down, because we've been on a heck of a run. What they've achieved in the last two and a half months to get from 24th to 12th in the league is something to be really proud of. The main thing is we believe we can go and beat Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
"I never expected to see that, but I've always said we're not going to win every game. Sometimes you take positives out of defeat, there's things to work on, things I've seen and it's brought us back down to earth. There's a few things we need to work on in training, so I'll spin that as a positive and we'll get better at those things."
Talking about Josh Scowen’s booking Ainsworth said: “Obviously it’s a blow but I’ll put a positive spin on it – he’ll have a 10-day break from games and come back fresh. He won’t have to go through the rigours of games. He’s been one of our pivotal performers in the run we’ve been on.
“It was always going to happen, now it’s happened I know when he’s going to be missing. I’ll adjust the team accordingly for Saturday – I’m looking forward to the game.”
Should Rovers be unfortunate not to be winning as the game approaches the closing stages do not be surprised if rain dances are not performed in the Blackthorn End.
Written by Gerry Prewett.