We continue our look at the teams we will be coming up against next season in League One with Blackpool, who finished one place and one point above Rovers in the league table.
At one time it looked as though they might get sucked into a relegation battle, but they finished the season well.
Rovers took four points from the two meetings between the sides last season, winning 3-1 at The Mem and drawing 0-0 at Bloomfield Road in January of this year, just nine days before the death of former Blackpool and England stalwart Jimmy Armfield, whose statue stands outside the ground.
It is to be hoped there are changes afoot at this once great club as a crowd of 4,001 in such a fine stadium saw the atmosphere akin to that of a library and one stand housing no one but the representatives of the press, numbering 12 in all!
Of the 34 league meetings between the clubs, Rovers have won 12, Blackpool 13 and there have been nine draws. As yet, the sides have not met in any cup competitions.
It’s another long trek for Gasheads as it’s 216 miles door to door, though it’s always a good opportunity for a weekend away as long as it’s not in the middle of winter!
Finishing one place below Rovers were Blackpool’s close neighbours, and local rivals, Fleetwood Town.
Another side who changed managers during the season, replacing Uwe Rosler with John Sheridan, they announced, before the season’s end, that Joey Barton would be their main man next time around!
Rovers won the match at The Mem last season 3-1, with Ellis Harrison, Billy Bodin and Stuart Sinclair all on target. However the return game at The Highbury Stadium saw Fleetwood win 2-0 on Easter Monday in a game watched by 2,890 fans.
It’s not a game that midfielder Chris Lines will want to remember, either, as he was sent off in the second half.
In eight league meetings against Fleetwood, Rovers have won three, The Cod Army four and there has been one draw.
Another 211 miles will be put on the clock for the trip to Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium. Perhaps we should ask to play them and Blackpool away on Easter weekend and have a mini break in the north west!
Next up are Doncaster Rovers, who finished in 15th place following their promotion from League Two.
Darrell Ferguson knows his way around at this level, having twice been in charge at Peterborough and with the facilities he has at his disposal with the division’s ‘other’ Rovers, don’t be surprised if they make a concerted push for promotion next season.
Both sides were successful in last season’s away games, Doncaster winning at The Mem on the Saturday before Christmas and Rovers winning 3-1 at the well appointed Keepmoat Stadium in January, courtesy of goals from Ryan Sweeney, Rory Gaffney and Ellis Harrison.
Last season’s encounters were the first in the league since 2007/08 and. The clubs last met in a cup competition at the Millennium Stadium on 1st April 2007 when Doncaster ran out 3-2 winners in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final.
In the 34 league meetings between the sides, at five different venues, Eastville, Twerton Park, The Memorial Stadium, Belle Vue and The Keepmoat Stadium, Rovers have 16 wins to their name, Doncaster 14 and there have been four draws.
Distance from The Mem to The Keepmoat is 181 miles.
Finishing in 16th place and on the same number of points as Doncaster (56), were a team that seem to be our constant companions in the league.
We were promoted together from League Two just two years ago and have now met each other in league encounters on 52 occasions, with Rovers winning 22, Oxford 18, with 12 games finishing all square.
Last season The U’s beat us here at The Mem in October, with a goal scored by Alex Mowatt. Rovers, though, exacted revenge at The Kassam Stadium in February of this year when goals from Ellis Harrison and Kyle Bennett (his first for the club) saw a 2-1 win for The Gas.
The U’s had dispensed with the services of manager Pep Clotet by the time we travelled to The Kassam and Derek Fazackerley was in temporary charge of team affairs. Karl Robinson took over before the season’s end and, having been in charge of games against Rovers for his previous clubs, MK Dons and Charlton Athletic, he will be no stranger to Gasheads.
A distance of 85 miles between The Mem and The Kassam makes it the shortest journey of the season for Gasheads.
Also finishing on 56 points last season were Gillingham, our final opponents at The Mem in a game that ended 1-1.
It was, at least, an improvement on the score when the sides met at The Priestfield Stadium last December when The Gills ran out 4-1 winners and also missed a penalty.
The first meeting of the sides next season will be the 93rd in a series that goes back to 1920/21 and Rovers are just ahead in terms of victories, with 40 to their name against the 38 recorded by Gillingham. Fourteen games have ended all square and there have been 13 more fixtures between the sides in the FA and League Cups down the years.
Our record on the road against The Gills has not been good in recent times and we have to go back to 14th August 199 to find the last time we won at The Priestfield Stadium.
The cross country trek to Kent is 171 miles.
Having flirted with relegation for a while last season, AFC Wimbledon rallied to finish in 18th position with 53 points.
Another side promoted with Rovers two years ago, we were also their first opponents when they became a league club for the first time, back in 2011 when Paul Buckle won his first game in charge of The Gas, 3-2 at Kingsmeadow.
The sides have met in every season since then and in the 12 league meetings Rovers have come out on top on seven occasions, AFC three and there have been two draws. The Dons won their first game at The Mem last season, registering a 3-1 victory on 18th November.
It’s 126 miles from The Mem to Kingsmeadow.
Another relatively short, and straightforward, journey for Gasheads is the one to The Bescot (Banks’s) Stadium, home of Walsall who finished on 52 points last season.
We have met Walsall in league action the same number of times as Gillingham (92) in a sequence that began in 1927/28. Rovers have 37 wins to their name, Walsall 33 and there have been 22 draws.
Rovers came out on top in last season’s encounters, taking four of the six points on offer. A 2-1 win at The Mem on 9th September last year was followed up with a goalless draw at The Bescot on Boxing Day. That’s a game that Rovers management and players are unlikely to forget as the team coach broke down as it pulled away from the ground and a minibus and four taxis were required to transport everyone back to Bristol.
Thank goodness it was only 92 miles!
Rochdale, a decent footballing side on the evidence of their performance at The Mem when we just managed a 3-2 win in February, escaped relegation on the final day of last season, thanks to a 1-0 win against Charlton Athletic.
Those three points consigned local rivals Oldham Athletic to at least a season in League Two, relegated in spite of their 2-2 draw at Sixfields, home of another relegated side, Northampton Town.
We had lost at Spotland earlier in the season, on a day when we learned of the passing of former chairman Geoff Dunford, a seventh minute Matty Done goal being enough to secure all three points for the home side.
Of the 32 league meetings between the sides, Rovers have won just six, Rochdale 11, while 15 games have ended all square.
The hardest defeat to take, in many respects came on the opening day of 2002/03 season when Dale travelled to Bristol minus their new season’s kit. They borrowed Rovers’ away strip for the game, and promptly won 2-1!
It’s 185 miles from The Mem to Spotland and whilst it’s a long way to go, there is one of the country’s best chip shops next to the ground which gives us all a great chance to refuel before the journey home!