By Gerry Preweet
You could say that Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood Town are two evenly balanced teams. Rovers have had 4 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses in their 12 games against the seaside club. Quite remarkably in the last 270 minutes of football between the two teams there has not been a single goal scored! Three consecutive 0-0 draws.
In 2012/13 the first season that the teams met the game at the Mem saw a steely 0-0 draw and Rovers came out on top in Lancashire as they returned victorious from Highbury Stadium with a 3-0 win, with goals by Danny Woodards, Eliot Richards and John-Joe O’Toole.
In the game in Bristol the following season it was 0-0 until the 64th minute when Jamille Matt netted from close range to give the visitors the lead. That lead was short lived, as Rovers equalised just two minutes later. John-Joe O’Toole headed into the top of the net following a good cross whipped in from the left from Bond. As Rovers pushed for the winner Fleetwood re-took the lead on 87 minutes, Matt scoring his second of the game from the edge of the box after good interplay with Antoni Sarcevic who opened up Rovers defence. In time added on the Cod Army got their third to seal the three points. Substitute Jon Parkin, scored an impressive volley from a tight angle.
In the 2016/17 season Rovers won the game at the Mem, 2-1. Rovers trailed to a fourth-minute strike when Ashley Hunter's angled right-foot shot found the top left corner. Rovers dominated possession but it wasn’t until the 61stminute that Matty Taylor headed home Daniel Leadbitter's cross to level. Leadbitter was again the supply line when Cristian Montano shot home right footed to win the game on 73 minutes. Fleetwood's livewire strikers Hunter and Chris Long caused Rovers plenty of problems in the first half, both having efforts saved. At the other end, Taylor forced three saves from Chris Neal and had another effort deflected over.
In the 1918-19 season James Clarke snatched a stoppage-time winner for the Gas against 10-man opposition, who had both striker Ched Evans and manager Joey Barton sent off.Clarke fired home a left-foot shot from eight yards to reward incessant late pressure by the home side and give Graham Coughlan his first points as Rovers’ caretaker boss.The goal provoked an ugly melee in front of the dug-outs, with players and staff of both teams involved, and Barton sent to the dressing room by referee Brett Huxtable.
The official issued 11 cards during the game including two for Evans who, already on a booking at the time, was shown a straight red card in the 55th minute for an aerial challenge on Tom Lockyer. Fleetwood took a 28th-minute lead when the ball was played back to Ashley Hunter on the left edge of the box following a quick break and the midfielder curled a right-foot shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jack Bonham. Rovers equalised eight minutes later as Gavin Reilly stooped to head home Alex Rodman's flick-on from six yards and they snatched all three points in dramatic fashion late on.