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Is the squad strong enough to challenge for promotion?

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The Memorial Ground
The Memorial Ground

Bristol Rovers Preview

By: Richard Lord
Date: 08/08/2005

LAST season's draw specialists Bristol Rovers host Grimsby Town on Tuesday night as both teams hope to respond positively to their respective 1-1 draws at the weekend.

Home > 2005-2006 Season > Previews > Bristol Rovers (a)


In almost reverse fashion, both the Pirates and Mariners picked up a point on the opening day but while Town conceded late on, Rovers snatched a draw at newly-promoted Barnet. Ian Atkins' men appeared to attract themselves to draws, recording a total of 21 last season - 12 of which where at home. Finishing 12th in League Two last season, Rovers' fans expect more from this campaign.

The Manager

Ian Atkins Old foe Ian Atkins (left) built up a larger-than-average squad for this particular division last season but failed to lead his side to promotion. Many onlookers (and bookmakers) expect the Pirates to do better this time around. Atkins began his managerial career at Colchester but really became noticed at Northampton, where he guided a floundering Cobblers side from the basement of Division 3 to the Division 2 playoff final in 1998. Despite losing that game 1-0 against Grimsby, he riled Town fans by claiming his team were the better side on the day.

The Squad

Junior Agogo Atkins made a few signings in early May but has not made any noticeable additions to his already ample squad. Goalkeeper Scott Shearer - who spent much time on loan at Rushden last season - signed for Rovers during the summer. Old acquaintance Ali Gibb is at the Memorial Ground these days, after both he and the manager spent time at Northampton together. The danger man on Tuesday night, without doubt, will be Junior Agogo. The Accra-born striker began his career at QPR but scored most of his goals that got him noticed at Barnet. He joined Rovers for £110,000 in 2003 and has scored 26 goals in 66 starts.

Team News

It looks as if Slade will be without Ciaran Toner and Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala, and Justin Whittle looks set to miss out again after turning his ankle in training. Tom Newey and Michael Reddy will have fitness tests before making the trip South.

Town's new midfielder Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala will miss the first few matches of the season after he picked up an injury against Blackburn. Ciaran Toner is also ruled out with a knee problem, although there is an outside chance he could recover in time.

Likely starting line-ups

TownRovers
1. Steve Mildenhall
2. John McDermott
3. Tom Newey
12. Rob Jones
4. Simon Ramsden
5. Tony Crane
20. Gary Croft
8. Paul Bolland
11. Andy Parkinson
9. Michael Reddy
10. Martin Gritton

6. Justin Whittle
17. Glen Downey
19. Gary Jones
15. Gary Cohen
22. Calvin Andrew

23. Scott Shearer
16. Ryan Williams
5. Chris Edwards
14. John Anderson
6. Steve Elliott
3. Robbie Ryan
20. Craig Disley
32. Aaron Lescott
7. Stuart Campbell
9. Junior Agogo
10. Richard Walker

36. Jon Bass
2. Craig Hinton
19. Ali Gibb
17. Jefferson Louis
18. Jamie Forrester

Past meetings

Bristol Rovers hold a slender advantage over the Mariners, winning 13 of the 33 meetings between the two sides. Their first ever clash was in the FA Cup when Town lost 2-0 at Blundell Park in January 1910. However, the Mariners hold an impressive record at the Memorial Ground, having won three of their last four games there. In 1991 Grimsby were 3-2 winners and the following year Town struck three without reply. Then in 1997 a brace from Steve Livingstone, a Kevin Donovan goal and a Tony Gallimore free kick sealed an impressive 4-0 win under the stewardship of Alan Buckley. Full Stats

Town Connections

Stuart Campbell There are three former Mariners in the current Bristol Rovers squad. Paul Trollope, who played six games and scored one goal whilst on loan, Stuart Campbell (left) played over 100 games in the black and white shirt before departing last summer, and Jamie Forrester - who has had successful spells at Scunthorpe and Northampton since leaving Blundell Park in 1997.

Prediction

The game will depend on how well Town apply themselves in their first away performance of the season. In recent times their downfall has been the away form but last season Town started to show more resilience. on their travels It'd be easy to go for a draw, but Rovers will fancy their chances in their first home game of the campaign. 2-0 to Bristol Rovers.

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