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Club News

FOCUS ON CHELTENHAM

26 November 2013

A look at tonight's opponents

John Ward for the second Tuesday in a row takes his Bristol Rovers team to visit one of his former clubs, this time Cheltenham Town. Both teams will be looking to secure all 3 points.

On Saturday the Robins battled out a very entertaining goalless draw at the Abbey Business Stadium with near neighbours Newport County. After a very tight first half the deadlock was nearly broken on 58 minutes when the Exiles Conor Washington worked his way into the Robins' box only to see his shot come back off the post.

At the other end Matt Richards was denied shortly afterwards by a last ditch tackle as he worked his way into the area. Then ex-Gas Jamie Cureton came close to giving his team the lead but he fired his shot straight at Lenny Pidgeley in the Newport goal.

In an end to end encounter the Ambers thought they had taken the lead as Washington fired in a shot from a Robbie Willmott corner but the ball was cleared off the line. Cureton then went close right at the death for what would have been a hard fought three points.

Rovers' record at Whaddon Road since the Robins have achieved League status is excellent with 3 wins and 2 draws in the 8 games played there.

On 14th January 2006 the Gas ran out 3-2 winners. After Jamie Forrester had given Rovers an 18th minute lead the Gas looked to be heading to victory until goals by Gillespie (70 mins) and Odejayi (88 mins) turned the game around. Then a sensational finish saw Craig Disley (89 mins) and John Anderson (90 + 3 mins) score to claw all three points back for Rovers.

Rovers’ last victory at the Abbey Business Stadium was on 21 January 2012 when goals by Zebroski on 60 minutes and Richards 3 minutes later gave Rovers a 2-0 win.

Last season the game finished 1-1 once again in dramatic fashion. The Robins took the lead deep in first half stoppage time when a Kaid Mohamed shot was deflected to Harrad out on the right and the Cheltenham man made no mistake with his shot, which beat Mildenhall before nestling in the corner of the net. 

Rovers finally broke through in the fourth minute of stoppage time when the ball fell to Ollie Norburn, the midfielder pulled the trigger and the ball flew past Brown before he could move.

One player who has had a foot in both camps is Jamie Cureton and talking ahead of tonight’s game he said of Rovers, "It seems to be the same story each season, Rovers make a bad start, the manager changes and then they do well. The expectation level goes up again, which it should do for the size of the club, but it seems to happen again and again.

"At the moment, they are struggling in League Two and I don't know why and what, from afar, isn't working. John Ward did well to steady the ship last year, but now it's not working again.

"They've had lots of injuries and players who've come in and not performed as they'd have liked which is a shame as I don't like seeing them where they are.

"I grew up watching Rovers, I went on to play for them and I still watch them now, so it's a nice game for me. I scored some goals there and made a name for myself, so it will always be the place where my career really kicked off.

"It all seemed to work at the time. I had four or five really good years there and loved every minute. Since then I have obviously moved on, but it will always be a special club for me."

News from the Cheltenham camp is that manager Mark Yates has no new injury concerns. Winger Jermaine McGlashan recovered from a hamstring problem and came through 25 minutes of the Newport game unscathed and is pushing for a start. 

Yates said ‘Everyone seems OK. There were a few bumps and bruises but no major knocks. Nothing should influence my team. It's a nice position to be in and we need them all firing. Jermaine McGlashan is pushing for a start without a doubt and we've got to decide which way we're going and we'll make those decisions.”

He went on to say, “In some ways with Rovers missing a few players through suspension it could make our jobs easier, but by the same token those that come in will be wanting to make a statement and a derby is the perfect place to produce a performance that gives the manager a headache, so we can't take them lightly, and we can't underestimate or feel sorry for them because of that.

"We must maintain our professional nature and put them to the sword the best way we can.”

Written by Gerry Prewett.

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