We focus on Saturday's opposition, Rotherham United...
Bristol Rovers take on Rotherham United this weekend full of confidence after securing 15 points from their first 10 games. It represents the best start Rovers have made to a season since the 2014/15 Conference season. Although Rovers are currently in 8th spot a lot of the other teams have played less games, including Rotherham, who have only played 8.
The Millers are expected to do well this season and have had a fairly mixed set of results, they’ve won at Wimbledon, drawn at Sunderland thrashed Bolton 6-1 but lost at Doncaster and Lincoln and been held at home by Tranmere and Shrewsbury. Once every team has played 10 games we will have a much better idea of how teams are shaping up.
Last weekend as Rovers were beating Wimbledon, the Yorkshire team were held at the New York Stadium by Shrewsbury. Freddie Ladapo forced Shrewsbury goalkeeper Max O'Leary into an early diving save with a shot from the edge of the box. A Millers’ penalty shout was turned away after ex-Shrewsbury man Carlton Morris went down in the box.
The Shrews’ first effort on goal was kept out by Daniel Iversen after Ryan Giles had dribbled across the box before shooting. It took until after the hour mark for any real quality to materialise in the second half, but Rotherham's winger Jake Hastie's shot was easily dealt with by O'Leary following a clever ball to the winger from Matt Crooks.
Morris had the best chance to score the winner but he poked wide from close range from Ben Wiles' knockdown. Shrewsbury saw out the five minutes added time to bag the point which keeps them above Rotherham in the table.
Millers Boss Paul Warne said, after the game, “I can’t knock the lads’ efforts, they’re down in the dumps. Our best chance fell to Carlton six or seven yards out and you would fancy him to score from there.”
“The good thing is we haven’t lost to a team above us in the table. But if we’re going to have a successful season we need to start creating more chances and taking them.”
Results between the teams are very even with 23 Rovers victories, 14 draws and 21 Rotherham in 58 games. The first-ever meeting was on 21st November 1953 at Millmoor, where a Barrie Meyer goal secured a 1-1 draw. The return game at Eastville saw Paddy Hale score to give Rovers a 1-0 victory.
What was remarkable about Rovers visits to Millmoor was their lack of success in the early years. It took 19 games before they secured maximum points! During that spell there were 5 consecutive defeats followed by 6 consecutive draws. This included their worst defeat in only their second visit when they went down to a 6-2 hammering on 16 October 1954. By way of contrast, the Gas have twice beaten the Millers 5-2.
May 1997 saw the Millers get a win at the Memorial Ground.. Trevor Berry opened the scoring for the visitors on twenty-one minutes but an own goal from Mark Monnington fourteen minutes later made it one-all. And with it looking like it would be a point a-piece, with just three minutes to go Darren Garner made it two-one for the Millers.
In 2011/12 Rovers did the double over the South Yorkshire team. On October 14th 2011 in a rare Friday night game, Rovers equaled their best ever result against the Millers, 5-2. After 10 minutes Scott McGleish opened the scoring wrong-footing Andy Warrington in the Millers’ goal. On twenty-nine minutes Johnny Mullins was judged to have challenged Scott Rendell unfairly in the area and McGleish put away the following penalty.
Three minutes later Rovers went three up with a goal from Cian Bolger with Jason Taylor scoring for the Millers five minutes later to make it three-two going into half-time. Eight minutes into the second half Danny Schofield made it three-two and with the Millers on top the unthinkable happened when Guy Branston later to play and score for the Gas, making his debut for the visitors, saw a red card for a two-footed tackle on Stuart Campbell and from the resulting free-kick Lee Brown scored the home sides fourth goal.
Joe Anyinsah came off the bench on the eightieth minutes and eight minutes later made it five-two.
The following season the away teams won both fixtures, Rovers winning 3-1 at the New York Stadium and the Millers winning 2-1 at the Mem. Two goals in two minutes from Kayode Odejayi and Lee Frecklington in the second half gave the Millers the lead with Joe Anyinsah making it an interesting final ten minutes.
The pair last met in December 2017 in League One with the Millers going ahead thanks to a Ryan Williams’ fifty-sixth-minute goal but goals from Ellis Harrison and Liam Sercombe gave Rovers all three points. Kieffer Moore controversially saw red eleven minutes from time.
Paul Warne spoke about the state of his squad ahead of this weekend, "The competition for places is good and I'm hoping that at some time next week, we should have Kyle Vassell, Chieo Ogbene and Adam Thompson back so we're getting there now.”
"When you have a fully fit squad it just gives you more options and it gives the opposition more things to worry about. Having the ability to change things around is essential in games.
"Matt Olosunde should be training today so we're hopeful that he should be available for the squad at the weekend should there be no ill effects from the session.”
Speaking about the Gas, he said, "Our away form has been encouraging, but I expect to come up against a strong Bristol Rovers side. They're currently above us in the league so we can't underestimate them, and we'll respect them as we do with every team we face.”
"There are some good teams that will cause us problems and they are one of them. Hopefully, we can go there and have a really good game of football that our fans will enjoy, but fundamentally we want to come away with a win and that's what we'll target.”
"Richie Barker knows Graham Coughlan even better than me, but I text him now and again. When he left Southend he came in here for a few days to watch what we did and he's a good guy who got an opportunity at Bristol Rovers.”
"He did really well in caretaker charge and got the manager's job, rightfully so. Myself and Richie have been to watch them this season and they've started well, so I'm well aware of the challenge."