A look at tomorrow's opponents
Both Bristol Rovers and opponents York City meet in the FA Cup first Round in a Friday night game at the Mem. Both teams have secured a win and a draw in their last two games and are looking to improve.
Earlier this season Rovers recorded their first win of the campaign when they beat York on 24 August. Prior to the match both teams had only scored one league goal. Rovers led 2-0 when David Clarkson volleyed home a clearance on just 3 minutes before taking advantage of a second defensive blunder as he poked in when Michael Ingham dropped a cross.
York were given hope when Ryan Jarvis scored from a rebound four minutes before half time. Things got worse for the Yorkshire team after substitute Ryan Bowman felled Tom Parkes and earned himself a straight red card.
With 25 minutes of the game remaining Jarvis put the Minstermen back on level terms form the penalty spot. Their joy only lasted 3 minutes as John Joe O'Toole ghosted onto a drilled ball from Alefe Santos to steal victory.
Bowman is hoping for a much better outcome this time, as he noted about his last visit, "I got sent off there and I've got to stay on the pitch and try to score a couple more goals. You just take it as another game. You don't try to get anything back - or try to get revenge - you just try to do what you do."
Bowman scored his first goals for the club in their 2-2 draw at Cheltenham Town, last weekend, "The first was from a very good cross. I lost my man, he's got lured towards the ball, and I've dropped off to the back stick and headed it in."
Talking about his second goal Bowman remarked, “The defender and the goalkeeper got in a bit of a mix-up and I was at the back stick and it fell kindly on to my head. I've still got to put it in the back of the net but I was in the right place."
Looking at the history of games between Rovers and York the record is remarkably even, with plenty of away wins; so home advantage is not all it usually is.
Meetings didn’t start until 1965-66 season, as York were either in Division 3 North or the 4th Division up until then apart from 1959-60 season when they had one year in Division 3 (and Rovers were still in Division 2).
That first meeting between the clubs was worth the wait, it was a real stunner. After 15 minutes of the Bootham Crescent game on 10th September 1965, York keeper Tommy Forgan suffered a broken finger and had to leave the field. Right back Alan Baker took over goal keeping duties and he performed brilliantly at times.
Once Alfie Biggs had opened his season’s account in the 35th minute there was only going to be one winner. Terry Oldfield and Harold Jarman added goals that would have beaten any keeper.
York fought hard and in-form centre forward Paul Aimson pulled one back but two goals in two minutes by Alex Munro and Harold Jarman gave Rovers a 5-1 victory.
The return game at Eastville on 26th February was tremendously disappointing for Rovers. In a real mud bath Tommy Forgan stopped good efforts by Alfie Biggs and John Brown.
Andy Provan for York could have secured a hat trick with better finishing, but the game ended 0-0. York went straight down that season finishing bottom by five points and conceding 106 goals.
It wasn’t until 1971-72 that the teams met again. After a dull 0-0 result at York, the Eastville game on 16th October was a real nail biter. A Harold Jarman hat trick and a Kenny Stephens double saw Rovers come in with a 5-4 win.
Paul Aimson, Kevin McMahon and two John Mackin penalties were the York scorers. That result is by far the highest score in these matches.
On 12 March 1986, goals by Tony Canham (2), Keith Walwyn and Marco Gabbiadini ensured that Rovers went down to a 4-0 defeat at Bootham Crescent.
Just over two years later on 15 April 1988 Rovers turned the tables as a David Mehew hat-trick and a strike by Devon White secured a 4-0 victory for the Gas.
Rovers’ last home game against York prior to last season was on 27 March 2004 when they ran out 3-0 winners.
Last season Mark McGhee’s last game in charge saw Rovers capitulate 4-1 at Bootham Crescent on 15 December. Then at the end of March a 0-0 draw at the Mem helped to keep both teams in the League.
Rovers’ complete record at home to York reads Played 21, Won 9, Drawn 6, and Lost 6.
York Manager Nigel Worthington has heaped praise on Josh Carson who joined the club in September from Ipswich, “I’ve got to say he's come in and he's a breath of fresh air. He's done exceptionally well, he works very hard, scored a couple of very good goals for the team and he's created goals for the team.
“So, it's just about focus and hard work and when Josh does that he's an asset to anybody and he's doing extremely well for ourselves at the moment.”
York keeper Michael Ingham says he would have preferred another League Two clash as the Bootham Crescent team look to capitalise on improving form which has seen them beat Scunthorpe and draw 2-2 at Cheltenham in the last week.
“I made the point in the changing room before the game at Cheltenham that we had to go there and get something to make Tuesday’s result even better. Now we have got a little run going and, hopefully, we can keep that going. But, for some reason, we keep on running into free weeks.
“A game called off stopped some momentum and now we have got a cup game. For me, I think it is at the wrong time. Although you have got the magic of the cup, I’d rather play a League game when we are on a little run.”
However the former Northern Ireland international, reflects back to campaigns that ended with trips to Stoke and Bolton in the 3rd Round of the club to know the potential rewards on offer for him and his team-mates, “Since I’ve been at the club, I’ve enjoyed the FA Cup because we have been on a couple of runs – the Stoke and Bolton games spring to mind.
“Last year we lost in the first round and, for us, it’s all about trying to get into that third round. It’s a long trip and a tough game against Bristol Rovers on Friday, but we go there with confidence. We are playing well; we are closing down teams, making it difficult for them and scoring goals.
“For me, personally, I have to do a little bit better at the other end and try to keep out one or two. We have got a good, settled back four now and clean sheets will come in time. It’s always nice to go to the big stadiums and that’s why it is nice playing in League Two.
“No disrespect to the Conference but now we are going to the Wycombes and the Portsmouths, Rotherham last year, and it is a lot better. The pitches are better, the standard of football is better and it is the same in the FA Cup – you go up another level again.
“You’ve got a chance, if you are in the hat, to pick one of the big boys out. Some of our boys will never play at the top level. These days are the ones you remember – the Wembleys, Stoke and Bolton. They are always days out that I’ll remember.”
Let’s hope Friday evening’s game is one to remember for all the right reasons.