By Gerry PrewettBristol Rovers will have their first ever trip to the James Parnell Stadium when they are guests of Nuneaton Town. The only previous meeting between the clubs took place on 16th September 2014 when Rovers defeated the Midlanders 3-1 at the Mem.
In that game the Gas started at a frantic pace and really took the game to Nuneaton and took the lead after 90 seconds. Dave Martin’s whipped free kick into the penalty area caused Reice Charles-Cook major issues as he missed his punch and Tom Parkes was on hand to power home his first goal of the season.
Rovers started the second half with the same intensity that they had in the first and were rewarded almost instantly. Matty Taylor latched onto an inch perfect pass from Lee Mansell and slotted calmly past Charles-Cook to score his first league goal in the blue and white quarters.
The visitors started to gain control of the game and pulled a goal back through the head of skipper Gareth Dean. It was Dean who jumped highest to meet the corner and turned it past Mildenhall.
Rovers put the game beyond doubt with just over 10 minutes remaining as Jake Gosling opened his account for the season. Gosling finished off a slick-passing move that involved Matty Taylor and Ellis Harrison before Dave Martin cut the ball back for Gosling to finish into an empty net with the goalkeeper stranded.
Town currently occupy one of the four relegation spots and are 7 points below Southport in 20th spot. Nuneaton suffered a dire lead up to Christmas with 5 defeats in December but have steadied the ship in the three games since with 0-0 and 4-4 draws with cellar dwellers Telford and a 1-0 victory at Altrincham.
In their latest game the Borough and Telford were very evenly matched. But that was largely down to Nuneaton keeper Callum Burton, on loan from Shrewsbury Town. The England Under-18 international made a string of fine saves in both halves.
He saved from Tony Gray either side of the break, as well as two more superb stops to tip away Mike Grogan's header and Charlie Barnett's angled drive to extend their home run to three games unbeaten.
The origins of the club go back to 1889 when Nuneaton St. Nicholas were the first team to play senior football within Nuneaton. Five years later they changed their name to Nuneaton Town, and played until 1937 when the club was disbanded. However, two days later Nuneaton Borough FC was founded.
In 2008 the club was liquidated, and due to a FA ruling was reformed as Nuneaton Town – suffering a two division demotion. It took until 2011/12 before Nuneaton was able to gain promotion back to the Conference Premier for the first time in 10 years.
Having got off to a terrible start to the season, picking up just 1 point from their first five games, Borough have struggled and have only once won back to back games. Manager Liam Daish is looking to bring in strike power during the transfer window.
After the second Telford draw Daish said, “That’s two clean sheets from two matches and it’s three games unbeaten so we just need to build on that and concentrate on the positives , the work rate, the effort and discipline.
“Hopefully we can get some reinforcements in January; we counter-attacked with pace and power so we just need that finishing touch to cap off what would have been a great Christmas for us. Everybody is looking for creative players that can put the ball in the net but being hard to beat at least gives you a platform to go and win games. It’s what you need – it’s a shame people hadn’t realised that earlier in the season. We have had to make do but it’s not going to be easy to get players in that we want.”
Nuneaton will have a different keeper as Callum Burton has returned to Shrewsbury and will be replaced by Christian Dibble on loan from Barnsley until the end of the season. Midfielder Adam Dawson has returned to Leicester City.
Commenting on Rovers Daish said, “They’re second in the league so it’s going to be a tough physical game. But the lads will draw confidence as they are working hard for each other, putting a real shift in.”