It may have felt like a crushing defeat on Saturday as the Cobblers were pegged back for a 2-2 draw at Cheltenham but the reality is that a follow up victory on Tuesday evening would make it look ever more like the solid point it yielded. The visitors to Sixfields, in the second of eight March fixtures, are a Bristol Rovers side who are slowly turning the corner under Mark McGhee.
The Scot has overseen a fine start to his career at the Memorial Stadium and has certainly tightened up a defence that had previously conceded twenty goals in nine games before his appointment. The record since has been just three conceded in seven in a run that’s seen Rovers lose just once and pick up four wins.
So it’s set to be a tough evening’s work out with a fixture that’s got all the ingredients to be a fair bit tougher than it looks on paper!
The Cobblers bounced back from a 2-1 home defeat to Port Vale with that positive point at Cheltenham on Saturday. Bayo Akinfenwa has passed fifty goals for the club with three in his last three games.
Rovers have been on an upwards curve since the appointment of Mark McGhee who took over in mid-January. Since then, the Gas have won four out of seven and have moved well clear of trouble at the wrong end of the table.
The Cobblers came through Saturday’s game unscathed in terms of new injuries or suspensions so it’s as you were in terms of team news for us. Shane Higgs and Nana are the only long term absentees with both out for the season.
Tom Parkes is set to return to the Rovers squad after he missed the 0-0 draw with Macclesfield Town because of illness. But Mark Mcghee will be without Michael Smith who picked up a groin injury during that game whilst Adam Virgo and Wayne Brown remain long-term absentees. Meanwhile Gary Sawyer (hamstring) and Aaron Downes (knee) have also been ruled out of tomorrow’s game.
Rovers goalkeeper and fans’ Player of the Month for February, Michael Poke spent time on loan at the Cobblers back in 2005 but never made an appearance for Town.
Injured Cobblers stopper Shane Higgs began his career at Bristol Rovers back in 1996.
Previous Six Meetings…
16/08/11: Bristol Rovers 2-1 Cobblers
The Cobblers suffer their first defeat of the season as Jo Kuffour and Matt Harrold score either side of a Bayo Akinfenwa strike to earn Rovers all the points at the Memorial Stadium.
10/04/09: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers
A Good Friday meeting between the clubs is settled by Jo Kuffour’s goal with twenty minutes to play in the season that would eventually see the Cobblers relegated from League One.
28/12/08: Cobblers 0-0 Bristol Rovers
Tame stalemate just after Christmas in 2008, part of a sequence that saw the Cobblers win just once in eight games at the end of the calendar year.
12/03/08: Bristol Rovers 1-1 Cobblers
Sean Rigg puts the hosts in front on the stroke of half-time but ten minutes after the break Danish striker Poul Hubertz equalised. An unlikely tilt at the playoffs would follow for Town but in the end we had to settle for a respectable ninth place in League One under Stuart Gray.
06/11/07: Cobblers 0-1 Bristol Rovers
The Cobblers had lost by a single goals against Southend just a couple of days before this one and it was another narrow defeat at Sixfields against the Gas with Rickie Lambert powering in the winner with twenty minutes to go.
19/11/05: Cobblers 4-0 Bristol Rovers
One of the more memorable encounters of recent years was this trouncing of Rovers in 2005 during the promotion season. Andy Kirk scores a brace to have us two up by half-time before Martin Smith and Pedj Bojic round it off in a comfortable victory.
The Man In The Middle…
Craig Pawson is the man in charge on Tuesday night. Pawson last took charge of a Cobblers game in a 2-0 defeat at Crewe back on New Years’ Day 2011.
Rovers are a team in good form and we’re going to have to work had to breach a tight defence. It promises to be a close one but I’m going to be optimistic with a prediction of a 1-0 home win.