This evening, Bristol Rovers entertain Cambridge United in a Carabao Cup (League Cup) tie with both teams looking to recover from opening 1-0 losses. Whilst Rovers were going down 1-0 at the Valley.
United suffered a similar reverse at St James Park, Exeter. Reuben Reid's third-minute goal saw United experience their first opening day defeat since 2010.
Reid’s spot kick was saved by United’s David Forde but the Exeter striker latched on to the rebound and netted.
Speaking afterwards United Bass Sean Derry commented, "You can’t legislate for that start, unfortunately. That was an error that was completely out of the blue, a moment of madness that cost us the first goal. But as disappointed as I was with the initial handball, I was equally disappointed we didn’t react from Fordey’s good penalty save."
"We became a little bit disjointed in the following 10 to 15 minutes and it took a couple of substitutions at half time to completely change the dynamics of the game. I thought the substitutions worked in our favour and there was a lot of activity in the defending half for Exeter and we just wanted that little bit more of final quality at key areas today to get us back in the game.”
“It was a strange old game in many ways because the distances between both back fours at certain parts of the game were massive. It seemed to be especially the chances Exeter had, I’m not sure they broke us down, it was some basic errors on our behalf and that really disappoints me.
"We finished really well today. From 45 minutes onwards I felt we were the dominant team. We’re that team that can be anything if we show that little bit more quality and that’s the disappointment for me that at times we were just lacking that. Of course you don’t want to lose your opening game, nobody does, but there are a lot of positives today.”
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.
United gave debut’s to three players on Saturday Jabo Ibehre, Gary Deegan and David Forde
Ibehre acted as a lone front man in the first half, but although he had to feed off scraps at times, he at least got himself in decent positions, held the ball up well and looked strong.
Ibehre never really tested Christy Pym, a few headers either going wide or straight into the Grecians keeper’s grasp, although he went close with a tight-angled shot after being slipped through by Luke Berry before the interval.
Deegan was brought in to effectively be an enforcer in midfield and had the dubious honour of picking up United’s first yellow card in League Two this season after pulling back Liam McAlinden 10 minutes before half time.
David Forde, faced that early a penalty but had little else to do. He showed a strong command of his area and a big vocal presence.