By Gerry Prewett.
On Tuesday Bristol Rovers entertain Swindon Town, with both the West Country clubs being regular members of the League’s lower Divisions it is no surprise that they have met a total of 99 times in the League and Cups and the record is pretty even. Town have won 45, Rovers 38 and there have been 16 draws. In Bristol and Bath there have been 50 clashes, 27 Rovers victories, just 7 draws and 16 Town victories
The teams clashed for the very first time in 1891 when the Robins ran out 5-2 winners in Swindon, just 2 months later the two teams met again and fought out a 2-2 draw. The first League meetings took place in 1920-21 season, with both teams joining the newly formed Third Division. The biggest winning margin for Rovers was 5-0 way back in 1938-39. Frank Curran Scored four of the goals and Bob Gardiner the other one.
Swindon have twice inflicted 4-1 results over Rovers at home and twice they have run out 4-3 winners. The most recent of these was on 16 September 1995 at Twerton Park, Kevin Horlock scored a hat-trick and Shaun Taylor scored the other Swindon goal, Paul Miller being the Rovers scorer.
Of the first 6 games played at Eastville after the War, Rovers won 5 and the other was a draw, Swindon's second victory at Eastville came on 7th September 1965 in front of a 15,855 crowd in a very entertaining game. A flashing 25 yard drive by Don Rogers just 6 minutes from the end of the game gave the points to the team from Wiltshire. Rovers gained their revenge just over a year later with a decisive 3-0 victory with goals by Doug Hillard, Harold Jarman and Ian Hamilton.
A 1-0 Rovers win on 28 April 2007 is remembered very fondly by Gasheads. Rickie Lambert’s goal providing the spring-bed for Rovers ultimately successful push into the Second Division Play-Offs.
The last League meeting of the teams in Bristol saw Rovers 1-0 winners on 28 January 2017. Rovers created all the decent chances in the first half. An early Chris Lines free-kick was saved at the second attempt by Lawrence Vigouroux, who then produced a better save to keep out Billy Bodin's close-range shot.
Centre-back Ryan Sweeney almost marked an impressive Rovers debut with a goal on 16 minutes, but Gladwin cleared his header off the line. In the 29th minute Bodin’s left-footed shot from just outside the box went in via both posts, the ball rolling across the goal-line before spinning in. After Bodin's goal, Ellis Harrison's header was cleared off the line by Raphael Rossi-Branco and the interval was reached without Rovers keeper Joe Lumley making a save.
Rovers were value for a bigger winning margin, but made hard work of beating a Swindon side, who barely managed a worthwhile effort on goal. Matty Taylor hit the crossbar with a 77th-minute shot from outside the box but the hosts almost paid for not making their dominance tell when late shots from Ben Gladwin and John Goddard, were both deflected just wide.
Last season on 13 November 2019 Rovers ran out 1-0 winners in a Football League Trophy game. Jonson Clarke-Harris caused the visitors defence problems and started to dominate as the game wore on. Tom Nichols couldn’t quite find a touch after a brilliant ball in by Luke Leahy.
Rovers control came through when Mark Little was on hand to tap in from close-range after sub Victor Adeboyejo flicked on at the near post with 18 minutes remaining. Shortly after the goal, captain Ollie Clarke forced McCormick to tip it around the post but Rovers saw the game out well and progress to the second round.