By Gerry Prewett.
Bristol Rovers take a mini break from League action with the second of three Cup games as they travel up to Nottingham to take on Notts County at Meadow Lane. The Magpies are in a fine vein of form at present and the televised First Round game is sure to entertain the audience.
Notts are one point clear of Accrington in second place, but do not face another league game until a week on Saturday when they travel to Stevenage. Whilst Rovers were overcoming MK Dons on Saturday the Magpies were vanquishing Newport.
The Welsh team were reduced to 10 men after 34 minutes when Dan Butler was dismissed following an aerial challenge with Matt Tootle and fell behind shortly afterwards when Jorge Grant slotted in a Jon Stead pass.
Shola Ameobi doubled the Magpies' lead with a neat finish after 52 minutes, turning in a Grant cross. The game was effectively over when Grant notched his second of the match ten minutes after half time as he headed in a shot of his own that had been saved by Joe Day in the Newport goal.
Speaking after the game Notts Boss Kevin Nolan said, “I’m delighted with the clean sheet and the goals we scored. It could have been six or seven with the chances we created and it wouldn't have flattered us.”
“We were back to being solid and ruthless out of possession. They had lots of threats and even when they were down to 10 men, their long throw is a weapon. We knew we had to stand up and be counted and the lads did that. It was a real team effort.”
As regards Rovers and County the very first meeting took place at Eastville on 11 January 1913 in an FA Cup First Round tie and Rovers ran out 2-0 victors. The first League 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 hoodoo 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 halfway 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 player to receive attention. The Jock Scott managed Notts, believing that Rovers were time wasting then proceeded to score a Mark Stallard goal from the throw-in when Rovers expected the ball to be given back.
On 20 October 2015 County visited the Mem for a very entertaining 0-0 draw. Billy Bodin came close for Rovers towards the end of the first half but his shot from 12 yards out hit the bar. County started the second half well, with the Gas desperate to clear Izale McLeod's powerful shot from distance. Jermaine Easter, who had his red card from the previous Saturday's game at Mansfield overturned, hit the woodwork late on as both sides settled for a point.
The return match at Meadow Lane saw Rovers secure a 2-0 victory with goals by Cristian Montaño on 43 minutes to give Rovers a halftime lead. Lee Brown scored 5 minutes into the second half to give Rovers a fine 2-0 away win.
After Saturday’s victory Nolan was full of praise for the Magpies supporters, “The fans were with us all the way through the game and you can see when they are on form and singing, how much confidence it gives to the lads. Thanks to them and hopefully they can continue to do that when things aren’t going so well. That’s when we need them even more. I was delighted with them and thank you to them for their massive support they have given me since I came here.”
Nolan believes his team has a great chance of making progress in the Worlds oldest Cup competition “We now look to the next game which is Bristol Rovers, we’re at home, we’ve got an absolutely fantastic opportunity to get into the next round."
“We’ve made this a fortress and tough for people for come. What we will do is hopefully give a good account of ourselves and if we continue to do what we’ve done today and keep that moving, that will give us a fantastic chance of getting into the next round. We are not going to be favourites because they’re in a league above, but we can build momentum.”