Bristol Rovers entertain Chesterfield and for the ninth game in a row, will be striving to gain all three points.
Chesterfield have themselves dropped off their early season high, when they won all 7 of their opening games, having now gone 5 games without a win.
On Tuesday night at the Proact Stadium, as Rovers were going down 2-1 at Accrington, the Spireites were held at home 2-2 by York, a game which saw them lose their place at the head of the table.
York’s Luke O'Neill opened the scoring on 35 minutes as he rocketed a perfectly-struck 30-yard drive into Tommy Lee’s bottom right-hand corner Then just after the hour mark a Ryan Jarvis header from a Josh Carson corner gave the Yorkshire team a comfortable lead.
Within 3 minutes Armand Gnanduillet pulled one back from the penalty spot after Lewis Montrose nudged Gary Roberts over in the penalty box. The former Ivory Coast Under-20 international then turned provider 15 minutes from time as he found Jay O'Shea who netted the equaliser. Ian Evatt then hit the woodwork with a header but York held on for a point.
Chesterfield Assistant manager Leam Richardson talking after the game said, “The final emotion is that you’ve got to be relatively pleased coming from two goals down, but on reflection I think they only had three attempts on goal. We’ve dominated from the first to the last minute and you do get a feeling that it is two points lost.
“It’s a little bit frustrating at times with the way teams are setting up. Burton and York both came without recognised strikers so it means we’ve got to pass and move it quicker.
"We still need to be disciplined in what we do but we are learning all the time and people know we are good and work very hard so teams come here fearing losing."
Gnanduillet was making his league debut and Richardson believed the striker played a key part in the game, “I thought Armand had a couple of good chances and I thought we were in the ascendency all the while.
"We are firm believers that strikers should take penalties because they are the ones that get you goals and he was confident enough to step up to take the penalty. I had no doubt in my mind he was going to score.”
Considering that both teams have been the lower reaches of the League for most of their relative existences there has not been that many meetings, 34 in total.
The first League meeting was on 3 October 1970, when Rovers beat the newly promoted Chesterfield 3-2 at Eastville, with goals by Wayne Jones, Ray Graydon and an own goal from Albert Phelan for the home team and Martin Wright and Kevin Randall for the visitors.
The very first meeting however dates right back to 1 February 1907 when Southern League Rovers beat Chesterfield 2-0 in the FA Cup at Eastville.
Remarkably it wasn’t for another 57 years before they crossed paths again and this time the Derbyshire team gained their only ever victory in the west country A First Round League Cup tie saw Fourth Division Chesterfield, inspired by a fine goalkeeping performance by West Brom bound John Osborne, record a 2-0 victory over Third Division, Rovers.
Chesterfield hold a special place in Bristol Rovers club history as an unremarkable 1-1 draw at Eastville on 26 April 1986 was the last ever first team fixture played at Eastville Stadium with Trevor Morgan scoring Rovers last ever goal at Eastville and a Brian Scrimegour penalty being the last away goal at the venue.
Since League meetings commenced there have been 13 Rovers victories and 3 draws in Bristol and Bath. Last season Rovers opening goal was put in his own net by Sam Togwell. Neil Etheridge, in Rovers goal on loan from Fulham, returned the compliment as he carried Mark Randall’s free kick into the back of his own net.
Rovers restored the lead through Joe Anyinsah on 59 minutes, before substitute Brennan Dickenson again levelled the scores just five minutes later. Ten minutes from time Tom Eaves, who was responsible for setting up both of Rovers’ previous goals then got his own name on the score sheet to top off a great performance.
Reflecting on the season so far, the Derbyshire team’s Boss Paul Cook commented after the York draw, “It now hurts us not being top of the league and not winning every week, that just shows how far we've come in such a short space of time.
“We’ve got to a stage now where the expectancy at our football club has gone through the roof, who’s created that? Me and the players. We’ve lost our way a little bit, and we lose our way with Talbot being injured, Gary Roberts suspended for three games, a few other injuries and we don’t get the same balance and the same energy in the right areas.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’ll keep going and we’ll be as strong as we can be because the support we’ve had from 99.9% of our support has been nothing short of top of the league, we’ll get back to where they want us to be.
“At the moment we’re going in the right direction in terms of points and league table position. Current form says no - my job is to address the current form.
"We just want to go back to our basics of working very hard out of possession, moving the ball, playing well. All the things that saw us go top, we want to get back to as quickly as possible.”
Talking about Saturday’s game he noted, “They’re always very strong at home, their crowd get behind them and we know we’ve got our hands full. We’ll have great support at Bristol on Saturday and we’ll be playing football, moving the ball quickly and doing all the good things about the game.”