A look ahead to tomorrow's game
Having won their first game in 8 attempts Bristol Rovers now face Marin Allan’s table topping Gillingham. The Gills will be formidable opponents having lost just one away game thus far having picked up 27 of the 36 points o offer on the road.
The Gills thrashed Rovers 4-0 in mid September. The home side dominated as an attacking force from start to finish, and despite showing neat touches Rovers never threatened after going behind to a Danny Kedwell penalty after just 5 minutes.
The star striker doubled his tally just 10 minutes later and it was all uphill for the Gas. Midfielder Charlie Lee put the game beyond the visitors reach just before halftime with a diving header. Rovers performed much better in the second half but it was Chris Whelpdale who completed the scoring for the home team on 82 minutes.
On New Years Day the Gills bounced back from a shock home defeat to strugglers Barnet on Boxing Day, winning away at Southend. Chris Whelpdale scored his fifth goal of the season, connecting with Joe Martin's free-kick to put the Gills ahead on three minutes.
Myles Weston missed three opportunities to increase the lead and left the Shrimpers in the game right up until the end of the game.
Talking after the game Gills’ Boss Martin Allan said, "In the last few games it hasn't gone very well but we won't all climb on that bandwagon. The team were back to their best and it certainly helps when you can call on a centre-back that we've just signed.
"He was immense, but everybody was fantastic. It's a great day for our travelling supporters. There was going to be some part of the game where Southend came back into it, but all the players have put in a tremendous performance."
Looking back over the history of meetings between the Gas and the Gills there has been a total of 101 games, with Rovers having the better record with 45 victories to the Gills 37. They majority of Rovers success has come in the West of England with 32 victories, 10 draws and just 8 defeats.
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
The last meeting at the Mem was on Good Friday last season when the teams fought out a 2-2 draw, Rovers last victory was on 21 November 2009. The Gas won that game 2-1 with Chris Lines giving the home team a 17th minute lead side-footing home from 10 yards.
Andy Barcham equalised on 40 minutes when he reached the edge of the area unchallenged and lashed the ball into the top corner of the net. A Jeff Hughes penalty on 81 minutes secured all three points for Rovers.
Generally games between the Gas and the Gills are not high scoring with the average score over those 101 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 with Bailey and Fortune-West scoring for the Kent team, after the game 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.
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has expressed his views on the tough second half to the season that his team will face because they are the table topping team, "It is going to be a tough second half because obviously when you are at the top everyone wants to beat you and they raise their game.
"But I think if anyone had offered us that at the start of the season we would have been happy to take it. The Barnet defeat was disappointing for everyone and it is always a down when you are beaten. We have to move on and what is good about this team is that they are very positive, the players are very honest and we are very focused on the next game."
Martin Allan spoke about the spirit in his squad, “The lads got a bit of stick at the Barnet game but that’s how it is and when you are at a good club that’s what it’s like. If you can’t hack it don’t go there, go somewhere pants and play mid table and be Johnny Average.
“We haven’t been Johnny Average from day one, we work to be the best team, the best squad, the fittest squad and we take knocks together. We enjoy it when we win and we stand firm and close in the times of such major adversity when we beat Rotherham away and draw against Fleetwood at home.”
Gasheads would certainly love to see John Ward’s team continue their recent unbeaten record.
Written by Gerry Prewett