All you need to know about tomorrow's opposition
Bristol Rovers went out of the FA Cup after their 6th game in the competition on Tuesday night at Birmingham City. On Saturday they visit York City, the ground where they went through in the first round in a thrilling 3-2 victory. This came after a 3-3 draw in the first tie at the Mem.
Nigel Worthington has worked wonders with his team in a last few months to take his team up to a mid-table position. On Saturday as Rovers were seeing off Exeter 2-1 the Minstermen were putting cellar dwellers Northampton to the sword.
The Cobblers started well as Darren Carter shot wide, Antonio German headed wide and Ishmel Demontagnac had his low drive saved but it remained 0-0 at half-time.
On 68 minutes Ryan Bowman headed home his sixth goal of the season from Josh Carson's cross to give the away team the lead. Within two minutes they doubled the lead from the spot after Kevin Amankwaah impeded Michael Coulson and Wes Fletcher converted to secure their third win in a row and his third goal in two games for his own 11th of the season.
York Boss Nigel Worthington said after the game, “That win was thoroughly deserved. Our performance levels have been very consistent this season, even though sometimes we haven’t always got what we deserved. But, in the last three matches, we’ve fully deserved three points in every game.
“It’s a case of keeping that mentality there and the strength within the group so we keep performing like that. There’s a couple of things I ask for from the players and that’s honesty and that they compete. We did that really well.
“We knew Northampton would fight and scrap for every ball on the pitch – and we had to match them. We got the all-important second goal and got the win we deserved but we’ve got to build on that now.”
Looking ahead Worthington commented, “There’s nothing to get excited about, there’s a hell of a long way to go. We’re 14th in the table, good, and we want to push on. But to get there we know there’s a lot of hard work to go in.”
Worthington heaped praise on debutant Russell Penn the new signing from Cheltenham Town, “What an outstanding debut. That’s what we are looking for. We know big Lewis (Montrose) will go into the tackle but Russell has got that tenacity, gets the timing right, and he’s determined.
“I think the likes of him in there sets off everyone else around him. I was very pleased. He was very solid, hard working and composed on the ball.”
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 York reads Played 21, Won 7, Drawn 5, and Lost 9.
York’s newly signed central defender John McCombe is already looking forward to League One football with York City. He said, "As soon as I knew I would be made available in January, I jumped at the chance to come to York."
McCombe has previously won promotion from the Second Division on two separate occasions, with both Hereford United and Port Vale but then immediately moved on.
"I am definitely here with a view to trying to play in League One with York City in the near future. I played at that level with my first club Huddersfield and it was a bit of a disappointment to leave both Hereford and Port Vale after getting promoted.
"As soon as I knew I would be made available in January, I jumped at the chance to come to York. I've been keeping my eye on York for the last month or two and the form is brilliant now. I know I might not be in team straight away and it will be a challenge because there are so many good players here."
After a total of 16 goals in the three games between the teams this season it will be interesting to see what this game throws up.
Written by Gerry Prewett.