By Gerry PrewettOn Friday night Bristol Rovers head eastwards to face the team immediately blow them, only on goal difference, Cambridge United. Rovers will be looking to bounce back from picking up one point from two home games and being embarrassed by cellar dwellers Newport County.
Cambridge have had a patch start to their season. Two wins and a 4-4 draw at Carlisle in their opening three games augured well. However the next six games failed to yield a victory and just 3 points. On Saturday they visited Huish Park and came back with a 3-2 victory.
Irish recruit Rory Gaffney took just three minutes to get off the mark in his first start since joining from League of Ireland side Limerick in January. He was left unmarked from six yards out after the Glovers defence failed to deal with Harrison Dunk's ball in from the left and had the simplest of chances to get off the mark.
Gaffney notched a second on 26 minutes by firing home at the far post after Yeovil again struggled to combat a set piece, this time Ryan Donaldson's corner from the left.
Luke Berry made it 3-0 to United in the 35th minute with a fantastic volleyed effort from the edge of the area after controlling a cross from the left by Dunk.
The Glovers were given a glimmer of hope when Ryan Bird gave them a lifeline a minute before half time, tucking the ball home after a mix-up between Sam Beasant and Alie Sesay.
The second goal Yeovil had been threatening throughout the second half came on 79 minutes when Josh Sheehan smashed home at the far post after the United defence failed to cut out Dickson's corner from the right. United managed to hold on to secure the three points.
Gaffney is still recovering full fitness after a foot injury and had to wait until September to make his debut. Speaking about his preparation for the Yeovil game Gaffney commented, "I trained up front with Barry Corr and we did well so we tried to do the same against Yeovil. I want to keep pushing and improve my fitness but there are areas I need to improve on and then I can bring more to the team apart from goals.”
"It's my first start in over a year and last time I played was in the League of Ireland last season so I am happy with the result. We have had three games in a week and to get six points is a good return. Two points for each game is good."
Looking back at past clashes, the very first game between the clubs was on 11 December 1971, when the Southern League team lost 3-0 to goals by Stuart Taylor, Bruce Bannister and Brian Godfrey in a 2nd Round F.A. Cup tie at Eastville. There have been three other Cup ties all played in Bristol and all won by Rovers.
Within two years United were back at Eastville for a Division 3 game, which Rovers won 1-0 with a Colin Dobson goal. Rovers have a reasonable d at the Abbey Stadium with 5 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats. Two of those defeats have been resounding ones, 4-1 in September 1979 and 6-1 in February 1992. Attendances at Cambridge haven’t generally been too impressive either; the worst was 1,711 for a Rovers 2-0 win in April 1985 and the best 6,164 for that 6-1 reverse.
The last time Rovers visited Cambridge they went down to a 1-0 defeat with a John Turner goal.
Cambridge Boss Richard Money is keen for his side to secure a victory in order to set an early precedent for the rest of League Two ahead of the weekend, “I think evening games at the Abbey Stadium, always bring a terrific atmosphere.”
“Given the fact that the Rugby World Cup Final is on Saturday, I think it is a pretty sensible solution and I’m surprised not more teams have done it also. However, that gives us an opportunity to push up the table before everyone else plays on Saturday and we have to do everything we can to grasp that opportunity.”
Talking about his team’s injury position Money said, “Josh Coulson trained at the beginning of the week with the group but has missed 34 days and Leon Legge we think will be back in training next week. Mark Roberts will also be back from his three game suspension as well, so we are getting there.”
“We have got to look at the season a little bit differently and I said last week that sometimes circumstances dictate the way you start. I certainly can’t remember a team that have had the adversity that we have faced during the first 15 games of this season.
“These things tend to even out over the season though, and I feel we have probably had our fair share now. It hasn’t been a great start but it has been okay, and this period is where we really need to push on.”