By Keith Brookman
This really is a tale of two managers who wouldn’t see out the season, though we weren’t aware of it when Burton boss Paul Peschisolido locked horns with Rovers’ manager Paul Buckle at the Pirelli Stadium on 22nd October 2011.
Burton had moved to the ground in 2005, when they were still a non league club. The Brewers have only been a Football league Club since 2009 when they were promoted from what was then known as the Blue Square Conference.
Their new home hosted pre-season friendlies against Chester City and Hull City prior to the start of the 2005/06 campaign. The Chester game was lost 1-0 and they drew 2-2 against Hull City. The distinction of being the first Burton player to score a goal at the stadium went to former Rovers midfielder Kevin Street, who was on trial with the club at the time.
He scored the first of the two Burton goals in that game, but it doesn’t appear to have done him any good as he wasn’t offered a contract and certainly wasn’t around for the official opening of the ground in November 2005 with a game against Manchester United.
Rovers’ relegation at the end of the 2010/11 campaign meant that they would be facing Burton for the first time in the league, so it was an ideal opportunity for Rovers supporters to see their side against new opponents and, for those who were members of the 92 club, a chance to visit a new ground.
Whether or not their numbers were reflected in the away attendance of 704 (out of 3,094) I can’t be sure, but I think it’s certain that one or two members of that esteemed club ticked off another ground that afternoon.
Buckle’s honeymoon period as Rovers manager was over and he was more than halfway towards the end of his short tenure as boss. Nevertheless, his side had registered their fifth league victory of the season in a 5-2 win against Rotherham United a week before they travelled to Burton.
Brewers boss Peschilolido, a Canadian international who had played for nine clubs, had seen his side lose 2-0 at home to Cheltenham Town eight days earlier.
Burton’s leading goalscorer at the time was former Rovers striker Justin Richards, who already had ten goals to his name in 14 games and there were one or two other familiar names in their squad, namely Darren Moore, the current Doncaster Rovers manager and Kevin Amankwaah better known for his time in the red half of Bristol and who was on loan from Swindon Town.
Richards missed out on a place in the Brewers’ squad, though, as he had suffered a back spasm following the Cheltenham defeat.
Rovers hadn’t won on their travels since the opening day of the season, so when Matt Harrold opened the scoring after only 14 minutes it seemed possible that another three away points were heading their way.
Buckle’s side totally dominated proceedings early on and that wasn’t said too often during his time at the helm! However, the hosts equalised through Cleveland Taylor after 28 minutes and Billy Kee put them ahead eight minutes later and they went into the half time break 2-1 ahead.
Rovers enjoyed a good deal of second half possession but, for all their efforts, they seldom troubled goalkeeper Ross Atkins and returned home empty handed.
Burton boss Peschisolido rewarded his players with a few days off, while Buckle had to prepare his squad for a game against Port Vale at the Memorial Stadium the following Tuesday.
The Rovers’ manager said afterwards; ‘I’m still smiling, but we are all hurting because we felt today that after a good win at home against Rotherham we could kick on. It really looked as though we were going to do that and I think that there was only one team in control of the game for the first 20 minutes.’
The Burton boss sort of agreed, saying; ‘It was a fantastic finish for our first goal and it got us back in the game as we had been up against it. They say goals change games and after that we had a spell in the ascendancy and managed to get our second.
‘You have to give Bristol Rovers credit as they are a big, strong, side with attacking players who can cause you problems and we were up against it again in the second half but I thought our back five were fantastic and kept us in the game.’
Both managers were gone for a Burton before the season’s end; Buckle in January 2012, Peschisolido was relieved in March. Buckle later managed Luton Town and Cheltenham Town (the latter for just 79 days!) while Peschisolido hasn’t managed in the EFL since.
While the Brewers have been to the Championship and back, and Rovers have travelled the other way, to the Conference and back, the clubs will, Coronavirus permitting, be playing each other at the Pirelli Stadium again this season.
This is how the sides lined up nine years ago.
Burton: Atkins, Amankwaah, James, Austin, Webster, Taylor (Maghoma, 66), Bolder, McGrath, Phillips, Zola, Kee (Palmer, 87). Subs: Poole, Corbett, Yussuf
Rovers: Bevan, Woodards, Bolger, Sawyer, Brown, Campbell (Norburn, 63), Gill (Zebroski, 90), Stanley, Rendell, McGleish (Anyinsah, 71) Harrold. Subs: Carayol, Anthony