By Gerry PrewettWith four wins in a row Bristol Rovers have hit a fine vein of form. Darrell Clarke was quick to label Saturday’s battle of Field Mill as an ‘ugly win’, ugly or not it propelled Rovers back into the top half of the table and within touching distance of the Play Off positions.
Whilst Rovers were doing it tough at Mansfield Tuesday night’s opponents Notts County were finding it difficult breaking down a stubborn Yeovil Town defence. County ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Glovers at Meadow Lane.
It was a fifth home win in six games for the Magpies, Notts opened the scoring when Stanley Aborah drew a foul from a defender 20 yards from goal and took responsibility for the set-piece. His left-footed curler deflected off the wall and past the helpless Krysiak for the midfielder's first goal in County colours.
Not content with a one-goal lead, the Magpies duly doubled it on the hour mark. Alan Smith set Izale McLeod racing through on goal and the striker, after springing the offside trap, scored his fifth goal of the campaign with a powerful finish that Krysiak couldn't keep out.
The very first game between the teams took place on 4 October 1930 with Rovers returning from Nottingham having gone down to a 3-0 defeat. Tom Fenner and Arthur Maw notched the Notts goals.
The return game at Eastville ended 2-2 with Fenner and Tom Keetly scoring for the away team and Alex Findlay and Bert Young scoring for Rovers. There was a four-year hiatus before the teams next met, but it got no better for Rovers as they went down 6-0! A score-line repeated in the 1946-47 season.
Rovers eventually beat the hoo-doo when they ran out 5-1 winners on 26 September 1953.
That score was repeated on 25 September 1976 when Gordon Fearnley (2), Gordon Staniforth (2) and Alan Warboys scored for Rovers with Dave Needham scoring a consolation for the midlanders.
One game that I’m sure will stick in many GasHeads memories was played at Twerton on 2 September 1989. The records show that Rovers won 3-2 with goals by Gary Penrice, Devon White and Vaughan Jones.
However it is the Vaughan Jones goal that sticks in the memory of everyone in the ground that day. Rovers won a free kick out wide on the left near the half-way line. Jones shaped up to hit a long bomb towards big Devon White (later to become a hero at County too). However the long bomb didn’t arrive, instead Jones hit a pile-driver in low to the near post.
Steve Cherry the Notts keeper suddenly realised that his position at the back post ready to take the cross wasn’t going to help. He scurried across goal but not in time to prevent a remarkable goal.
Coming forward to 9 September 2000 at Meadow Lane a draw was one that many regarded as being pivotal in Rovers relegation that season. The Gas were leading 1-0, with a Nathan Ellington goal. With the game in its last few minutes Rovers put the ball out of play for a Notts player to receive attention.
The Neil Warnock managed Notts then proceeded to score a Mark Stallard goal from the throw-in when everyone expected the ball to be given back to Rovers. It was one of those many Neil Warnock moments that gave him his reputation in the game for being ruthless
Speaking after Saturday’s much needed victory Magpies Boss Ricardo Moniz said, "Yeovil were very difficult to play against. They are compact, they are organised. They wait for you and then counter and they almost had that in the first half. You must watch and be careful what you do. Then, when McLeod hit the post, we could have settled at half-time had it gone in.”
"But we had to be patient. We changed it at half-time by moving Stanley further up the pitch because of his creativity. We were too static, but when we scored the free-kick we were away. I was pleased for Stan because I do think he should play higher up the pitch sometimes. We all know what he can do as a playmaker. When you need to break down the wall, Stanley is somebody who can do that. But we got the win and it was so important to bounce back after three straight defeats."
"We needed it," he said. "We lost to Sheffield, Orient and Plymouth so you could see how important it was for the team. We played good football against Plymouth last week and although we did so against Yeovil, it was not in the final third.”
"That's the most difficult area in football and sometimes we need more creativity up front. It sets us up for two important games this week."
County’s Dutch Coach went on to say, "I am very ambitious. Our ambition is to be among the top and I say how it is. Some people don't like it. We are too inconsistent but, now after this win, hopefully we can start to move up there. Hopefully six points will take us out of the zone where we are."