By Gerry PrewettThis weekend Bristol Rovers face Accrington Stanley with both teams having individually identical win loss records.
Rovers with 3 wins and losses and Stanley 1 win and 1 loss. Despite this Rovers are 2 points and 5 positions above the Reds.
Rovers three defeats have come after a dozy first game, a dozy first half at Leyton Orient and a dozy Referee last weekend! Referee James Linington earned the ire of GasHead when he sent Ollie Clarke off for an innocuous challenge on Oxford’s Danny Rose.
The card has now been overturned but the damage was done with Rovers having to play 75 minutes of the game with 10 men.
Whilst Rovers lost their live televised game on Sunday, the day before Stanley earned their fourth draw of the season from six starts. Both Accrington and Portsmouth failed to take their chances in a battling 0-0 draw at Fratton Park. The Reds have still not won on the road this season.
Michael Doyle had an early shot on goal for Portsmouth with a spectacular attempt from his own half but goalkeeper Jason Mooney watched it fly wide from outside his box. The Reds skipper Terry Gornell
headed narrowly wide before Pompey's Gary Roberts ghosted past Matt Pearson and flashed a powerful strike on target.
Pompey replaced keeper Brain Murphy at half-time with
Paul Jones and he was brought into action on 55 minutes when he took on Stanley’s Sean McConville and came out on top.
21-year-old Josh Windass (yes the son of Gas hero Dean) tried to emulate his Dad’s Play-Off strike with a dipping shot from just outside the area.
Mooney held Matt Tubbs’ overhead kick. With 5 bookings it was a battling performance by the Lancashire team.
Rovers and Stanley have played one another 10 times before. The very first time was an FA Cup tie on 14 December 1929 at Eastville, the home team running out 4-1 winners. Four years later at the same stage Rovers visited Peel Park and came back out of the Cup, losing 1-0.
Fast forward over 70 years before the rejuvenated Stanley were back into the League after their 1961 demise and visited Bristol once again.
The very first league meeting again took place in December 23 2006. Once again Rovers hit 4 goals but this time Stanley were scoreless. The return game in Lancashire on 6 March ended in a 1-1 tie.
When Rovers visited the Crown Stadium on 5 November 2011 little did Paul Buckle realise that it was to be the start of fireworks for him.
A defeat that day was the beginning of a run of 8 games during which Rovers were to pick up just 2 points and culminated in his sacking.
Rovers finished their 2011-12 home programme with a flourish as they disposed of Stanley with a 5-1 victory. The following season Rovers lost both games 1-0 and again 2-1 at the Crown Stadium in October.
In the last game between the clubs Rovers lost out after the Reds scored in added time to take all three points at the Memorial Stadium on 28 January 2014.
The Gas dominated for most of the game, and put the Accrington goal under plenty of pressure, but they could not find the back of the net and the visitor’s took advantage at the last minute to win 1-0.
It was heartbreak for Rovers when Peter Murphy volleyed home the winner in the final seconds of added time.
Stanley boss John Coleman spoke after the draw at Portsmouth (his team’s fourth in 6 games), “I am happy with a draw because I know how difficult it is to come to places like this with 15,000 fans baying for blood.”
“I applaud that, you want fans to be passionate for their team, and I had some banter with some of the crowd and these are the games you want to play in. It’s just a pity we can’t play in front of a crowd like that every week and they can.”
“We came here and had a game plan, we focused on our jobs and we had a couple of great chances. We didn’t come here to settle for a point. Some teams will come here to shut-up shop and go for a 0-0, we have come here and tried to win and we could have but a draw was probably a fair result.”
“We’ve spoken about behaving like winners and that’s what we’ve got to try and do, we’ve got to play with a swagger and we’ve got believe we’re going to come to places like this and not be settling for a point.”
“We’re going to go everywhere we play and try and win. We need to start winning more games,” said Coleman. “We’ve only won one and that’s a concern, the big problem we had last year in conceding we’ve addressed, now we need to marry that up with scoring goals.”
Talking about centre back Tom Davies, who signed after his release from Fleetwood in the summer Coleman noted, “You wouldn’t think Tom has played only a handful of games. The way he defends belies his inexperience and I cannot comprehend how he has only played this many league games.”
“He had the pressure of the crowd, he picked up an injury in the first half but there was no way he was coming off and you have got to applaud that. And he wasn’t alone.”