If the history of football ties provided a good indicator of results, Bristol Rovers would have nothing to fear in their Carabao Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, form is probably a better indicator and on that basis, there is much to fear.
Having hit a good early season run the Gas seem to have run off the tracks, whereas Wolves are going full steam ahead. In all games, this season the Midland team has won 7 drawn 2 and suffered just one defeat.
Whilst Rovers were on the end of a grilling by a very efficient Wigan team, Wolves took a short trip to the East Midlands where they helped themselves to all three points from Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
After an evenly fought first half ended goalless it took less than two minutes for the away team to open the scoring. Ivan Cavaleiro’s cross being cooly converted by Diogo Jota at the far post.
Former Gas winger Mustapha Carayol came on as a substitute for Kieran Dowell and brought cheers from the home fans on 75 minutes when with everyone expecting a cross he unleashed a swerving shot from outside the area to beat John Ruddy in the Wolves goal all ends up.
As the game moved into the last ten minutes Leo Bonatini made an inch-perfect pass to Jota who drew Jordan Smith from his line before steering home a right-footed shot.
Wolves Boss Nuno Espirito Santo was justifiably full of praise for his high-flying team, “The team is getting better, we are growing and can get even better. We will take things game by game. But every player needs to keep working to get better. That is important.”
“The players enjoy themselves, but they also know they need to be very aggressive, we have to be consistent, we have to press, we have to react when we lose the ball.
All these things are important. I was really pleased with the way we managed the game and controlled our opponent because they are a good team, Nottingham Forest”
Talking about two-goal Diogo Jota, he added, “Jota, like all the other players, is getting better and growing with every game. He can get better; he can improve still.
Everyone can get better. We want to progress as a team and as a squad, each game is another chance to grow. We learned from the last game, (a 3-3 home draw with Bristol City) there were no mistakes; we did not give very much away. This shows that we have character, this shows that we are growing.”
That history of fixtures between Rovers and the Black Country team is quite remarkable considering the illustrious history of the Molineux team.
The record in full reads, Played 14, Won 4, drawn 6, lost 4. The last season the teams met was 1992-93 and on 7 November 1992 Rovers came back down the M5 on the end of a 5-1 spanking, Rob Dennison, Steve Bull (2) and Mark Burke (2) scoring for the home team and Carl Saunders replying for Rovers.
Oddly three of Rovers four victories have been in the Midlands, 4-3 on 17 September 1985, 1-0 on 27 March 1989 and 3-2 on 5 November 1991.
In the 4-3 game, Andy King scored 2 (one a penalty) and Neil Edwards the other for Wolves and Rovers scorers were Steve Badock (2), Paul Randall and Steve White.
The game on 27 March 1989 was an unexpected victory and it was Denis Bailey who scored Rovers winner. The fireworks on 5 November 1991 came from a Steve Bull double and Andy Reece, Tony Pounder and Carl Saunders for Rovers.
The wash-up for Wolves on Saturday on the injury front is that Leo Bonatini and Ruben Vinagre both left the pitch early. Also out injured are Kortney Hause, Willy Boly, Helder Costa and Morgan Gibbs-White.
It could mean there are places for Sylvain Deslandes and Bright Enobakhare. Alfred N’Diaye may appear in midfield with Will Norris in goal.