BIG MATCH PREVIEW – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Mansfield Town return to Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium for the first time since that fateful day in May 2014 when Junior Daniel’s goal relegated the Gas to the Conference.
There were worrying scenes at the end as anger and emotion overtook a section of the crowd who fought with police and stewards on the pitch and were eventually stopped by police on horses.
Tears flowed freely that afternoon for former Stags midfielder Darrell Clarke as Rovers boss.
But he has since got them promoted at the first time of asking and now has them in the top five in a chase for a second successive promotion.
Rovers have just had the boost of a takeover last month and are also in the process of building a new stadium.
Wael Al Qadi, a 46-year-old Jordanian banker, has bought 92 per cent of the club’s shares. His family are rumoured to be worth around £1.4 billion.
Rovers have won four of their last five, winning the last three on the bounce and scoring nine times. They are fifth in the table, eight points clear of Stags in 10th and six points adrift of third-placed Plymouth in the automatic promotion spots.
This game is the first in a run of four matches against play-off rivals this month with Mansfield still yet to record a win over a side in the top half of the table all season. Click HERE to read about that season-long hoodoo
Stags will also be trying to avoid a third loss on the bounce for the first time this season after 1-0 defeats at Newport and at home to Yeovil.
Referee will be Dean Whitestone, of Northamptonshire, who has taken charge of 32 games this season, and handed out 99 yellow cards and three red cards.
Click HERE to read a report from Stags v Yeovil last Saturday
Click HERE to read a midweek report of Bristol Rovers v AFC Wimbledon
Click HERE to read a look-back at that fateful day from the Bristol Post-match
Click HERE to see video of the crowd trouble on that relegation day for Rovers
Click HERE to read Chad sports editor John Lomas’ memories of that day
Click HERE to read how Stags boss Adam Murray regards Rovers as a blueprint for his plans at Mansfield
STAGS TEAM NEWS
Manager Adam Murray is hoping to welcome back Matty Blair and Krystian Pearce into his squad.
Blair missed last weekend’s game with illness, but returned to training in midweek.
Pearce completed a two-game ban, but he has also felt the effects of some illness since last weekend and may find himself on the bench.
Midfielder Adam Chapman had a midweek operation to fix a broken nose and has had a protective facial mask moulded to protect it while playing.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI
Shearer, Alfei, Collins, Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman, Clements, Baxendale, Blair, Daniel, Green.
BRISTOL ROVERS TEAM NEWS
Darrell Clarke has said three or four players are struggling with a virus.
Liam Lawrence (calf), Stuart Sinclair (groin) and Rory Gaffney (hamstring) all missed the last game and are unlikely to be fit.
However, Billy Bodin should return from illness.
POSSIBLE BRISTOL ROVERS STARTING XI
Mildenhall; J. Clarke, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Bodin, Mansell, Lines, Montano; Taylor, Easter.
KEY BATTLE: RYAN TAFAZOLLI v MATTY TAYLOR
Some questioned whether Matty Taylor would be able to cut it at Football League level, but 19 goals so far this season have served to win the hearts and minds of his critics.
Taylor was at Forest Green Rovers and said to also be on Mansfield Town’s radar.
He does miss chances and goes through barren spells but Taylor’s all-round link-up play makes him more than merely a goalscorer and he is likely to keep Ryan Tafazolli busy all afternoon.
Click HERE to see a pre-season interview with Taylor on his goal targets
BRISTOL ROVERS ONE TO WATCH: CHRIS LINES
When Darrell Clarke signed Chris Lines last summer it raised a few eyeborws as he didn’t seem to be his usual type of player..
Lines was dropped in September and has also struggled with a groin injury since that have left him sat on the bench more often than not.
However, he has returned to form in impressive fashion over the last three games.
His quality on the ball at this level is unquestionable, it is what he does without it that has been a criticism.
If he continues to put himself about and also maintains the sort of form he has shown in last three games, he has ability to be one of the best players in this division.
Stags must beware as Lines can be deadly with his accurate free kicks
Click HERE to see video of a Lines superb free kick
OPPOSITION MANAGER: DARRELL CLARKE
Former Stags midfielder Darrell Clarke has proved himself to be the best manager that Rovers have had in a number of years.
He has become a real fans favourite after displaying a continued empathy with the football supporter and has been helped by consistently good results.
Clarke has built a likeable and hard-working side who have reconnected successfully with supporters in the aftermath of relegation.
James McNamara of the Bristol Post newspaper said: “His preparation is always spot on and his man-management is possibly the best I’ve ever witnessed among the many managers I have dealt with.”
Click HERE to see a video interview with Clarke after Stags relegated them to the Conference
BRISTOL ROVERS SEASON SO FAR
It has been a season in which Rovers’ expectations have already been exceeded.
Most Gasheads would have settled for a campaign of mid-table mediocrity on their return to the Football League.
Such has been the ability of the side to put unbeaten runs together and to bounce back quickly after poor runs of form, it has been the solid base on which Darrell Clarke has managed to put Rovers in a challenging position with 11 games of the season remaining.
Saturday, 17th October 2015: Mansfield Town 1, Bristol Rovers 2
There was late heartbreak for nine-men Mansfield Town as a Matt Taylor goal in the last of eight added minutes ended Stags’ unbeaten home record in an ill-tempered game at One Call Stadium.
Taylor rose to head home a James Clarke cross at the death, just after it seemed Ryan Tafazolli has rescued an unlikely point nine minutes from time.
There were three red cards in the game, two for Stags after the break as Krystian Pearce was sent off for an off-the-ball kick and skipper Nicky Hunt went for a second bookable offence, those after Rovers had ended the first half with 10 men after Jermaine Easter had been sent off.
Rovers had a goal disallowed just before the equaliser and Ellis Harrison hit the bar in a thrilling game you could not take your eyes off.
Stags trailed against the run of play at the break to Easter’s 16th minute strike, but in the end Rovers eked out their fourth win on the bounce.
Click HERE to read a full match report
Click HERE to see video highlights of the game
GROUND AND TICKETS
The Memorial Stadium, also commonly known by its previous name of the Memorial Ground, was dedicated to the memory of local rugby union players of the city killed during the First World War.
From its foundation in 1921 until moving to Ashton Gate in 2014, the Memorial Ground was the home to Bristol Rugby.
The Memorial Stadium has been owned by Rovers since 1998, when it was purchased from the old Bristol Rugby Club, who were in administration at the time.
The stadium capacity is just under 12,000, around 3,000 of which is seating. The seats are all located in the Dribuild Stand, the J&G Group Stand and the South Stand - the rest of the stadium is terracing only.
The site was created on an area of land called Buffalo Bill’s Field, after Colonel William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody’s Wild West Show was held there between 28 September and 3 October 1891.
Rovers hope to move to a new 21,700-seater stadium beside the University of the West of England at Stoke Gifford by the start of the 2016/17 season.
There have been multiple delays to the move caused by legal challenges against a Sainsbury’s supermarket plan on the Memorial Ground site by several groups resistant to the defacement of a war memorial.
The Memorial Stadium is on Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol, BS7 0BF.
Exit the M4 at junction 19 and join the M32. Travel along the M32 for 3.1 miles until you reach junction 2.
Here, exit the motorway and take the third exit signposted Horfield and Southmead and follow the road through a division and a roundabout both of which have clear signs reading The Memorial Stadium.
Once through this area you join Muller Road and you should continue to drive along it for 1.4 miles until you come to signal-controlled crossroads.
Signposted right is Horfield Health Centre and Library. At this junction ignore the sign and turn left into Filton Avenue where the ground is located almost immediately on the left.
Click HERE to see a time lapse video of the Memorial Stadium
The Stags’ ticket office have have 300 advance tickets on sale until 4pm on Friday.
Seat prices for the South Stand are:
Young adult (16-21) £15
Senior (65+) £10
Disabled (adult/senior) £9 (with free carer)
Disabled (U16) £8 (with free carer)
Standing prices for the terrace are:
Young adult (16-21) £12
Senior (65+) £8
Disabled (adult/senior) £9
Disabled (U16) £8
Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the game, however, all categories will be subject to a £2 increase on matchday.
Tickets for wheelchair users and their carers can be purchased directly through the Bristol Rovers ticket office on 01179 524 001.
Match report and reaction at www.chad.co.uk after the game.
Keep in touch with the Rovers match and all things Mansfield Town 24/7 via our new Mansfield Town Live Scribble feed.
The button link is located on the menu just below the main Chad masthead at the top of our home web page – www.chad.co.uk.
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It is a treasure trove of everything any Mansfield Town fan could want to read and from there you can also trawl back through older material you may have missed.
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