All you need to know about tonight's opponents
Bristol Rovers travel north to Lincolnshire to face a rampant Scunthorpe United team, currently being kept off the top of the Division by a three point goal difference.
The Iron are the most difficult team to beat in the Division, with just four losses to their name so far, and they are on a roll.
They are currently on a run of 16 matches without defeat and are just three games away from equalling their club-record unbeaten run of 19 games, achieved seven seasons ago when they were crowned League One champions.
That run started in November when Russ Wilcox took over from Brian Laws. Wilcox name is now being mentioned in the same revered tones as Neil Adkins.
On Saturday they destroyed Portsmouth with a burst of attacking venom, being 5-0 up with 35 minutes of the game left. The home team started well and went ahead after six minutes. Paddy Madden's through ball found David Syers and from the edge of the area the midfielder's left-foot strike was deflected past goalkeeper Trevor Carson, who had no chance.
It was another half hour before Gary McSheffrey cut inside before back-heeling the ball to Sam Winnall, who promptly notched his 17th goal of the season with a carefully placed shot from the left edge of the box.
Two minutes before the half-time break United put the game beyond Pompey’s reach as Syers netted his second of the game and his second double against Pompey this season. Madden broke down the right and gave the ball to Syers, his left-foot shot beat Carson and found the bottom corner.
Just three minutes of the second half has passed before Sean McAllister played a pass short to McSheffrey and his inswinging cross found defender David Mirfin at the back post. Mirfin’s header was saved well, low down, by Carson but Madden was on hand to turn home his first goal following his January switch from Yeovil Town.
Ten minutes in to the second half, Syers completed his hat-trick. A quick break from the Iron saw Winnall find Hakeeb Adelakun on the right and his low cross was turned in by the midfielder, for his eight strike of the season. It completed a devastating spell of four goals in 19 minutes.
Pompey finally found the net in the dying moments of the game with substitute Michael Drennan heading home a Jed Wallace cross from six yards which gave Sam Slocombe no chance.
Iron boss Russ Wilcox was asked after the game what pleased him most, and he responded, "Creativity in the final third as it has been missing a little bit in the draws we have had. We scored five, but it could have been 10.
"Hayesy (Paul Hayes) could have a couple when he came on and Dave Syers could have had four or five goals. At 5-0 we tried to see the game out but they kept going, they had a really good go and there will be some pleasing things for Richie."
Speaking of Madden’s contribution the Iron Boss said, "I am delighted for him. I have just said to him that we all know the work he does off the ball and the runs that he makes, he is very unselfish, but he knows, and I know, that he is going to be judged on his goals, that will lift him moving forward.
"We have to do the hard work before anything and there is no substitute for that. We have to do the ugly side of things well as if you don't then the creativity doesn't happen and to be able to get on the ball and play our football. There is a lot of quality in this side and we always want to play on the front foot."
Games between the two clubs have been few and far between as United didn’t gain League status until 1951 and played in the Third Division North until 1958.
In their second ever visit to The Old Show Ground, Rovers recorded a stunning 4-3 win with Alfie Biggs, Ray Mabbutt and Ian Hamilton (2) all on the score sheet with Welsh international wing wizard Barrie Thomas (2) and Peter Donnelly replying for the home team.
It was another 13 years and two points from a possible 12 (just two for a win in those days!) before Rovers recorded their next win in the steel town. A Smash and Grab double (yes Warboys and Bannister as always) kept a 1,784 crowd silent!
During that lean spell Rovers visited the Old Show Ground on 7th November 1964. Rovers had got off to an excellent free scoring start to the season, hitting four past Mansfield, Peterborough, Bournemouth, and five past Grimsby and Carlisle in consecutive games.
Against Reading on 17th October Alfie Biggs suffered a serious cartilage injury which kept him out for the rest of the season. Rovers came off two wins before their trip to Lincolnshire and an Ian Hamilton goal for Rovers and a Barry Lindsay goal for the home side, gave the teams a share of the points in a hard fought game.
Nearly a year later and it was a different story. Having lost 3-0 at Swansea and 4-3 at Swindon the defence needed to tighten up but it wasn't to be. Without ever looking a good side Scunthorpe won with absurd ease as Rovers defensive marking was virtually non-existent.
The attack wasn't much better and when Ian Hamilton put the ball in the net Referee Egan ruled that Dick Plumb had fouled Geoff Sidebottom in the Scunthorpe goal.
Freddie Goodwin gave Scunthorpe a 25th minute lead with an unchallenged header and then five minutes into the second half Brian Bedford was given equal largesse. Frank Barton sealed the game with a hooked shot just seven minutes later to complete a 3-0 victory.
In 2004-05 season, the Iron ran out winners at a canter, 3-0 in Bristol and 4-0 in Lincolnshire. In their final home game of the season Scunthorpe needed a win to keep their hopes of automatic promotion alive.
It was a whitewash for the hosts, who then went on to gain the point they needed at Gay Meadow, Shrewsbury the following week. Steve Torpey grabbed a brace within the first 14 minutes to get the ball rolling, producing two pin-pointed back headers which bounced into the net in front of a very strong crowd behind the goal.
That was the end of the goals for the first half, but it took just 46 seconds of the second half to add to the scoring. After a long Paul Musselwhite goal kick, Hayes found himself in the clear, with the Iron striker sending a side-footed lob over Ryan Clarke in Rovers goal.
A dampener hit the game seven minutes later though, as Richard Kell was stretchered off with a broken leg which saw the Pirates’ Craig Disley dismissed for a second bookable offence by referee Scott Mathieson.
The win was completed in the 69th minute though; Rovers cleared a corner to the edge of the area, but it was sent back in with vengeance, Cleveland Taylor heading home from 20 yards as the ball looped into the goal to the delight of the fans.
Midfielder Dave Syers hopes his weekend hat-trick can lead to a goal 'spurt', "I have said it a few times over the last few years, I have scored against the same teams and when I do score it tends to be in spurts. You get confidence from scoring against teams and it can give you that extra edge."
Talking about the hard working Iron midfield, Syers commented, "It is something we do every week it is one thing that you need to do as a midfielder in League Two. It can be a war in there.
"We pride ourselves on winning the second balls in there which allows the team to get playing and that is what we do well. It is pleasing when it gets noticed but we do it week in, week out, win or lose."
Asked about the unbeaten run the midfielder said, "Obviously it is something that the opposition will be looking at I wouldn't want to be playing against a team that was 16/17 games unbeaten so it is something for us to keep working on when the games come thick and fast."
Written by Gerry Prewett.