In Search of Gas – Aug-Sept 2018

 

In Search of Gas is an attempt to track down as many former Rovers players, who are still involved in the game, as possible.

Most will have played first team football for Rovers in the past, while others are still contracted to The Gas, but either out on loan or work experience.

What began as something to do on the opening day of the 2018/19 season, became a little bit of an obsession for former Rovers Head of Media Keith Brookman, as you will see from his weekly updates!     

The latest instalment lives on the main page HERE, and the rest of the season will be archived in chunks.

August and September are archived below, right in front of your very eyes.


 


WEEK EIGHT – Starting 24th September 2018

Tuesday saw a number of Third Round Carabao Cup ties being played and QPR, who beat Rovers in the previous round, went out to League One side Blackpool, losing 2-0 at Bloomfield Road and while Marc Bola was in the Blackpool side, Joe Lumley wasn’t even in the QPR squad.

Middlesbrough scraped through by virtue of a 4-3 penalty shootout win at Preston, while Paris Cowan-Hall was on target for Wycombe Wanderers, who went down 4-3 to Norwich City at Adams Park where it would appear that Joe Jacobson was rested.

In the night’s only League Two encounter, Lee Nicholls was between the posts for MK Dons in their 1-1 draw against Yeovil Town, but there was no Alefe Santos for the home side.

There was a full programme of matches in The National League – I’d forgotten what a relentless fixture schedule operated down in the fifth tier!

Gary Waddock’s Aldershot suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Maidstone, while another former Gas manager, John Still, saw his Barnet side draw 2-2 with Havant & Waterlooville.

No sign of Matt Harrold in the Leyton Orient lineup as they were 5-1 winners at Braintree, where Lyall Dell Verde started for the home side and picked up a yellow card during the course of the 90 minutes.

Down at Eastleigh Chris Zebroski was in the side that registered a 1-0 win against Boreham Wood, who had Danny Woodards and Ricky Shakes in their lineup while Andy Bond managed 14 minutes of game time for AFC Fylde in their goalless draw at FC Halifax Town.

Rory Gaffney and Luke James were on opposing sides in the clash between Salford and Hartlepool, with Gaffney’s side recording a 3-0 win to move up to second place in the league. Charlie Clough, meanwhile, was in the Sutton United side held to a 2-2 draw by Dover.

FA Cup replays saw Weston win 3-2 at Salisbury and Chippenham beat Swindon Supermarine 1-0.

For some reason I’ve not dipped into the Irish leagues so far this season, but in the NFL Premiership tonight there was one fixture that caught my eye; Dungannon Swifts against Crusaders. Seanan Clucas started for the home side (Swifts) while in the opposition lineup was Mark McChrystal. Clucas came out on top on this occasion, as his side were 3-2 winners, the deciding goal coming in the fifth minute of time added on.

There was more Carabao Cup action on Wednesday and goalkeeper Luke Daniels was in the Brentford side beaten 3-1 by Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium in front of a crowd of 49,586.

In the FA Cup, there was replay joy for Hereford, who beat Truro City 4-3 in a game that went to extra time.

Up in Scotland, Michael Smith was in the Hearts side that saw them go through to the semi final of the Scottish League Cup with a 4-2 win against Motherwell, while Scott Sinclair was an unused substitute in Celtic’s 1-0 win at St Johnstone in the same competition.

Friday saw Matty Taylor start for Bristol City in their Championship match against Aston Villa, which ended 1-1 at Ashton Gate.

Saturday saw Rovers take a point from a goalless draw at Valley Parade against Bradford City, and from the commentary I heard it sounded as though it was a fair result. An honourable mention for Tony Craig, though, as he was included in The League Paper’s League One Team of the Day.

In The Championship Ipswich, without the injured Ellis Harrison, managed a point from a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City, which means that The Tractor Boys are still looking for their first league win of the season.

Luke Daniels was back on bench duty for Brentford, who drew 2-2 against Reading, While Middlesbrough and Tony Pulis also had to be content with a point, from a 1-1 draw at Hull.

Millwall coach Adam Barrett saw his side suffer a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Sheffield United, but it was maximum points for Swansea who, with Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie in the side, beat QPR and Joe Lumley 3-0. In addition, Roberts scored his first league goal of the season and McBurnie was selected in The League Paper’s Team of the Day.

In League One, Matt Lund and Scunthorpe had to be content with a point from a goalless draw at Burton, but Cian Bolger, a first half substitute for Fleetwood, was on the losing side as Barnsley were 3-1 winners at Highbury Stadium.

Aaron Chapman’s Peterborough were up against Marc Bola’s Blackpool in a match that ended 2-2, but Matt Macey and Plymouth still wait for their first league win of the season. On this occasion Argyle were beaten 2-1 by Doncaster Rovers at Home Park.

Portsmouth and Lee Brown returned to the top of the table following their 3-1 win at Rochdale, while two former Gasmen were on target in the game between Shrewsbury and Gillingham which ended 2-2. Ollie Norburn, who was included in The League Paper’s Team of the Day, was on target for The Shrews, Tom Eaves for The Gills.

thumbnail_eaves
The 26 year old striker, Tom Eaves, began his career with Oldham Athletic before joining Bolton Wanderers and it was from there that he joined The Gas on loan in September 2012.
He then went out on loan to Shrewsbury Town, Rotherham United and Shrewsbury Town again and then headed off to Somerset for another loan spell, with Yeovil Town. Then it was back up to Greater Manchester for a loan spell with Bury before a permanent move back to this part of the world and to Yeovil Town. It was from there that he signed for Gillingham in June 2017. [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
Wycombe Wanderers lost at home for the fifth time (out of five) when they were beaten 3-2 by Southend at Adams Park. Joe Jacobson started for The Chairboys while Paris Cowan-Hall was a second half substitute.

In League Two, Tom Parkes was on the losing side as Carlisle were beaten 1-0 by Stevenage at Brunton Park, while two of Lincoln’s three former Gasmen were on the winning side at Cheltenham. The Imps won 2-0 at Whaddon Road, where John Akinde started, and Bernard Mensah was a late substitute. No sign of goalkeeper Sam Slocombe in the Lincoln squad, though. For Cheltenham, Ryan Broom was both yellow carded and substituted.

Harry Pell started for Colchester, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Bury, for whom Byron Moore started and scored before he was replaced by Dominic Telford with five minutes of the game remaining.

At Field Mill, Mansfield and Ryan Sweeney beat Northampton 4-0, with goalkeeper Conrad Logan an unused substitute. John-Joe O’Toole started and was one of four Northampton players booked, while Andy Williams was a half time substitute for The Cobblers.

Lee Nicholls and MK Dons had to be content with a point from a 1-1 draw against Tranmere Rovers, while at Rodney Parade David Pipe was an unused substitute in Newport’s 4-2 win against Cambridge, whose two goals were scored by Reggie Lambe.
No sign of Cristian Montano in the Port Vale side who drew 1-1 with Exeter City who started with Jordan Tillson and Hiram Boateng in their side.

In The National League, Chris Zebroski was on the winning side as Eastleigh recorded a 1-0 win at Gateshead, but Matt Harrold was missing from the Leyton Orient squad on duty against Sutton United. Charlie Clough started for Sutton, whose 1-0 win saw Orient lose their place at the top of the table.

John Still’s Barnet went down 1-0 at Wrexham, while Andy Bond was a second half substitute for AFC Fylde in their 3-0 win against Braintree Town for whom Lyle Della Verde was another second half substitute.

Salford City took over at the top of the table thanks to their 3-0 win at Maidenhead United and although he didn’t score, Rory Gaffney played his part in their victory.

Luke James and Hartlepool shared the spoils with Gary Waddock’s Aldershot Town, the final score in the north east being 1-1. Only one of Boreham Wood’s three ex gasmen, Ricky Shakes, was in the side beaten 4-2 by Harrogate Town.

Further down the leagues, there was no sign of Johnny Burn in Darlington’s 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Stockport County while Hereford’s Martin Horsell was also on the losing side as Spennymoor Town won 3-0 at Edgar Street.

Bath City suffered a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Welling United, so no joy for the former Rovers trio of Ryan Clarke, Ryan Brunt, or Sean Rigg.

Alex Wall scored one of the three Concord Rangers goals that saw them beat Michael Meaker’s Truro City, and Weston super Mare continued their winless run with a 2-1 defeat at Dartford, where Jamie Lucas and Nabi Diallo started and Ben Swallow was a second half substitute.

Two former Gas strikers were in action when Hampton and Richmond took on Billericay Town and it was Adam Cunnington, a second half substitute for Billericay, whose side came out on top as they beat Chris Dickson’s side 2-0.

In the Northern Premier League Whitby Town lost 3-2 at Grantham Town, though trying to find out if Andy Monkhouse turned out for Whitby is proving to be beyond me! He’s listed as a player on their website and appeared in matches during September, though he may well have moved on by now. Will attempt to track him down again at some point in the future.

In the Southern League Premier Division Kettering manager Marcus Law saw his side stay at the top of the table following their 3-1 win at Alvechurch and another former goalkeeper/manager, Danny Greaves, saw his Frome Town side record a 3-0 home win against Walton Casuals in the Southern Section.

Yet another goalkeeper, Liam Armstrong, was on the winning side as Tiverton Town stayed in second place by virtue of their 4-1 win against Basingstoke Town.

Further down the scale, Yate Town continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 4-1 win against Fleet Town and although Lewis Powell was on the scoresheet for Larkhall Athletic, they suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Cirencester Town.

Mangotsfield United finally won a home game, beating Barnstaple Town 4-0 and in the Bostik Premier League Jamie Cureton’s Bishop’s Stortford registered a 3-2 away win at the home of league leaders Tonbridge Angels.

Just a quick mention for another former Rovers player who is now a manager. Gavin Williams is in charge of Merthyr Tydfil and saw his side take a point from a 1-1 draw at Hartley Wintney.

Sunday saw Neil Etheridge in action again for Cardiff City in The Premier League and in the televised game he conceded twice as his side were beaten 2-1 which leaves them still looking for their first win of the season.


 

WEEK SEVEN – Starting 17th September 2018

Monday sees a Premier League game featuring Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion and Paul Trollope, on the Brighton bench, sees his side snatch a point from a 2-2 draw.

Tuesday and it’s Checkatrade Trophy night for Rovers and a handful of other clubs and Darrell Clarke’s side beat West Ham U-21’s 2-0 thanks to goals from Alex Jakubiak, his first for the club, and Tom Lockyer.

Supporters vote with their feet, though, as the attendance of 1,021 includes 175 Hammers fans, meaning less than 1,000 Gasheads are remotely interested in the early rounds of this competition that has been sold out to Premier League clubs who want competitive action for their Academy/Development squads.

In the same competition, Wycombe Wanderers beat Fulham U-21’s 2-1 at Adams Park in front of a crowd of 595 which included 76 Fulham supporters. Paris Cowan-Hall was in the starting lineup for the home side.

There were seven games played in The Championship on this particular evening and it wasn’t a particularly good one for Matty Taylor, who started in Bristol City’s 4-2 defeat against West Bromwich Albion but was substituted after 56 minutes.

Ellis Harrison came off at half time as Ipswich could only manage a 1-1 home draw against Brentford, for whom Luke Daniels was on the bench, while Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie (a second half substitute) were on the losing Swansea side at Stoke, who won 1-0.

Saddest news of the day saw the death of Ralph Ellis reported in the national press. A respected local journalist, who went on to become Sports Editor at The Daily Star, he was, for a time the Commercial Manager at Rovers and although I didn’t always agree with what he did at the club he never held a grudge. He had some excellent ideas, including the launch of a range of leisurewear bearing the 1883 logo which never really took off and, as money was tight back then, he eventually left the club and returned to journalism.

I saw him only a few months ago, when he looked quite healthy; there was no outward sign of his struggle with prostate cancer which took him at the age of 62. Surprised that there was nothing reported on the club website.

In the National League, Sutton United suffered a 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Boreham Wood making it an unhappy night for Charlie Clough, but a good one for the three former Gasmen in the Boreham Wood lineup. Angelo Balanta scored his side’s first goal of the evening, while Danny Woodards and Ricky Shakes also started.

One non league result of interest was that involving Bishops Stortford, who were 2-1 winners over Hertford Town. The interest? It marked Jamie Cureton’s first match as caretaker manager and he celebrated by giving himself a run out in the final 20 minutes!

Five more Championship games took place on Wednesday and Tony Pulis was a happy man as his Middlesbrough side moved into second place in the league standings with a 2-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers.

No joy for Adam Barrett, though. Now a coach at Millwall, he was on the bench at Loftus Road where QPR ran out 2-0 winners in a match I saw on TV and one in which Joe Lumley kept another clean sheet for the Loftus Road outfit.

Thursday saw Scott Sinclair come off the bench in the second half of Celtic’s 1-0 win against Rosenburg in the Europa League tie at Celtic Park.

Bristol City were in action again on Friday and went down 1-0 at Wigan in a match that was shown live on Sky and Matty Taylor was an unused substitute.

Matchday number nine saw Rovers record their first home win of the season as Gavin Reilly scored his first goal for the club and Tom Lockyer and Ollie Clarke were also on target, earning themselves a place in The League Paper’s Team of the Day, in a 3-1 win against what I thought was a poor Coventry City side.

In the Premier League. Neil Etheridge and his Cardiff City side are still searching for their first win and the shot stopper was beaten five times as Manchester City steamrollered the top flight newcomers.

Paul Trollope’s Brighton were also on the losing side, going down to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

Meanwhile down in The Championship Luke Daniels was again on the bench for Brentford, who lost 3-1 at Derby, while Ellis Harrison was an unused substitute for Ipswich in their goalless draw against Bolton Wanderers.

Another goalless draw, between Middlesbrough and Swansea saw Tony Pulis’ side face Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie while Adam Barrett and his Millwall side were again on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat, this time against West Bromwich Albion.

Joe Lumley was on the losing side as his QPR side were beaten 1-0 by Norwich City at Loftus Road and Billy Bodin’s Preston side slipped to the foot of the table following their 3-2 defeat at Sheffield United. Billy, though, is still recovering from injury.

In League One Marc Bola was in the Blackpool side that drew 0-0 with Luton Town, while Gary Sawyer was taken off at half time and Matt Macey conceded twice in Plymouth Argyle’s 2-1 defeat at Charlton.

Second half Gillingham substitute Tom Eaves was also on the losing side as Peterborough United, with Aaron Chapman in goal, won 4-2 at The Priestfield Stadium to move back to the top of the table.

Lee Brown was in the Portsmouth side held to a 2-2 draw by Wycombe Wanderers at Fratton Park. Joe Jacobson converted a last minute penalty for The Chairboys to earn them a point, while Paris Cowan-Hall was a second half substitute.

No goals for Matt Lund, but his Scunthorpe side beat Shrewsbury, who had Ollie Norburn in their starting lineup, 1-0. Cian Bolger, though, ended up on the losing side as Fleetwood Town were beaten 1-0 at Southend.

In League Two Bury, with Byron Moore in their starting lineup, suffered a home defeat at the hands of Carlisle United for whom Tom Parkes started.

Reggie Lambe was in the Cambridge side held to a 1-1 draw by Mansfield at The Abbey Stadium, while Ryan Sweeney started for The Stags.

thumbnail_reggie
Reginald Everard Vibart Thompson-Lambe was simply known as Reggie Lambe by supporters during his time loan spell with Rovers from his parent club Ipswich Town.
He moved from East Anglia to Bristol in March 2011 and made seven appearances (six of which were from the bench) until May of that year. He signed for Canadian club Toronto FC in December 2011 and then moved to Sweden in 2014 to play for Nykoping BIS in Sweden. From there it was back to England and Mansfield Town, then it was on to Carlisle United before a move to Cambridge United in July of this year.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
Ryan Broom was on target for Cheltenham down at Exeter but his side were beaten 3-1 by The Grecians, for whom Jordan Tillson and Hiram Boateng both started.

John Akinde started for Lincoln, and Bernard Mensah was introduced as a substitute with 22 minutes of the game remaining. No sign of Sam Slocombe, though, as The Imps beat MK Dons, who had Lee Nicholls in goal, 2-1 at Sincil Bank.

Andy Williams was an unused substitute in Northampton Town’s goalless draw against Notts County, but John-Joe O’Toole completed 90 minutes, while Harry Pell was on the scoresheet for Colchester as they played out a 3-3 draw against Oldham at Boundary Park.

No sign of David Pipe in the Newport side that won 1-0 at Tranmere, or Alefe Santos, absent from the Yeovil squad that suffered a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Swindon.

In The National League, Gary Waddock’s Aldershot were 2-0 winners against bottom club Dover Athletic, while Matt Harrold was introduced as a last minute substitute in Leyton Orient’s 3-0 win against Harrogate Town, a result that saw The O’s leapfrog their opponents and jump to the top of the table.

Andy Bond was a second half substitute in AFC Fylde’s 1-1 draw against John Still’s Barnet and another second half substitute, Eastleigh’s Chris Zebroski, helped his side record a 1-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge.

Luke James was in the Hartlepool side that won 2-1 against FC Halifax Town and Charlie Clough helped Sutton United to a 3-0 win against Wrexham.

Rory Gaffney was on target for Salford City in their 3-1 win against Boreham Wood who had Danny Woodards and Ricky Shakes in their starting lineup and Lyle Della-Verde was on for the last ten minutes of Braintree’s 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Maidstone United.

Many lower league clubs were involved in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round and while some made progress through to the next stage of the competition, others will need a replay to see if they can go through.

Darlington made their FA Cup exit, suffering a home defeat at the hands of Bradford PA so no Wembley appearance for Johnny Burn or Alex Henshall this season!

Chippenham Town drew 2-2 against Swindon Supermarine and there’s still no sign of Will Puddy, out with a long term knee injury. Jamie Lucas had an eventful day in Weston super Mare’s 2-2 draw against Salisbury.

The striker took over in goal after first choice keeper Powell was sent off and then scored at the other end, converting a penalty to put Weston 2-0 ahead, though he then blotted his copybook as he conceded two late Salisbury goals.

Hereford United also drew, though Martin Horsell and Danny Greenslade and Ryan Green will no doubt be satisfied with a goalless draw against Truro City and their assistant manager Michael Meaker.

Bath City’s trio of former Gas players, Ryan Clarke, Ryan Brunt and Sean Rigg were FA Cup winners as The Romans won 2-0 at Banbury United. Liam Armstrong and Tiverton Town also went through by virtue of a 2-0 scoreline, against Dorchester Town.

Jefferson Louis was on target for Chesham Town in their 2-1 defeat against Welling United and Chris Dickson scored for Hampton and Richmond, who beat Burgess Hill Town 3-0.

Alex Wall and Concord Rangers made it through to round three with a 2-0 win against Margate while Adam Cunnington and Billericay Town beat Burnham 4-1.

Further down the leagues, Trey Anderson and Jay Malpas haven’t been mentioned before, but both are at Paulton Rovers, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Blackfield and Langley and Yate Town maintained their good start to the season with a 2-1 win at Evesham United.

Mangotsfield United are still without a win following their 2-1 defeat by Street, while Larkhall also lost, going down 3-2 against Bideford. One of The Larks goals was scored by Lewis Powell.

Andy Gurney’s Roman Glass St George side were 4-0 winners at Shepton Mallet and Ray Johnston’s Hallen beat Wellington 2-1.

Just days after being appointed caretaker manager of Bishops Stortford, Jamie Cureton scored a goal to help them achieve their first victory of the season, a 3-1 win against Carshalton Athletic.


 

WEEK SIX – Starting 10th September 2018

Internationals, FA Cup replays and a couple of Checkatrade games seem to dominate the week leading up to Saturday matchday.

Richard Evans was again on the bench as Belgium beat Iceland 3-0 and Martyn Margetson, England’s goalkeeping coach, saw Gareth Southgate’s side register a 1-0 win against Switzerland.

David Pipe was an unused Newport County substitute in their 1-0 Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Swindon, while Cian Bolger was in the Fleetwood side beaten 7-6 by Leicester City in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.

Closer to home, Olly Mehew was in the Yate Town side beaten 3-1 by Salisbury City in an FA Cup First Qualifying Round replay. There may well have been other former Rovers players involved in the 0ther 23 replays played on this evening but attempting to find out lineups is a little bit of a nightmare, so I didn’t!

Saturday saw Rovers back in action at Kenilworth Road, but reports suggest that they were far from being at their best against Luton Town and the radio commentary I listened to said that they were; ‘thrashed one nil’.

Worrying times for the club as that result saw Rovers drop to 22nd place in the league standings and even the manager admitting that his side were in a relegation battle with just eight games gone.

In The Premier League Neil Etheridge was again on TV and also on the losing side again as Cardiff were beaten 4-1 at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea’s Eden Hazard notched a hat trick.

Only fair, I guess, is to mention another former player involved at the top level. Gareth Taylor is a coach at Manchester City, albeit in their Academy, but even so it’s good to know that there is a former Gasman working with probably the best team in the country at the moment.

Moving down into The Championship, Joe Lumley seems to have cemented his place in the QPR first team and was again on the winning side as Rangers recorded a 2-1 away win at Bolton.

Another former Rovers shot stopper, Luke Daniels, was an unused Brentford substitute as they beat Wigan 2-0 at Griffin Park, while Matty Taylor came off the bench to help Bristol City beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

No goals (again) for Ellis Harrison or Ipswich, beaten 2-0 at Hull, and Tony Pulis saw his Middlesbrough side slip to their first defeat of the season, as they were beaten 1-0 at Norwich.

Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie were in the Swansea side held to a goalless draw by Nottingham Forest, but their side now occupy sixth place in the table.

In League One, no goals for Matt Lund at Scunthorpe, but they win 3-2 at AFC Wimbledon but another former Rovers man, defender Cian Bolger, scored for Fleetwood in their 1-1 draw against Accrington Stanley.

Peterborough, with Aaron Chapman in goal, lost their first game of the season, going down 2-1 to new league leaders Portsmouth, for whom Lee Brown kept his place in the starting lineup.

No joy for Gary Sawyer or Matt Macey as Plymouth remain anchored at the foot of the table, without a win, following their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Marc Bola’s Blackpool side.

Tom Eaves was on the losing side as Gillingham were beaten 3-0 at Rochdale, but there was success for Ollie Norburn and Shrewsbury as they recorded a first win of the season, beating Southend 2-0. Meanwhile Joe Jacobson and Paris Cowan-Hall were involved in Wycombe’s goalless draw against Oxford United.

In League two, Tom Parkes was on the scoresheet but, unfortunately, for the wrong side! The Carlisle central defender scored an own goal which set up Tranmere Rovers for a 2-0 win at Brunton Park.

No goals for Harry Pell, but his Colchester side ran out 3-0 winners against Cambridge United, for whom Reggie Lambe was in the starting lineup.

Lincoln won 2-1 at Macclesfield with John Akinde in the starting lineup, Bernard Mensah used as a last minute substitute and Sam Slocombe again warming the bench.

Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls and his MK Dons side maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw against Forest Green Rovers, while David Pipe came off at half time as Newport County suffered a 6-0 defeat against Yeovil Town at Rodney Parade.

No joy for Andy Williams or John-Joe O’Toole at Northampton, as The Cobblers lost 2-0 at Port Vale. Biggest surprise of the day, for me at least, was the fact that Byron Moore scored twice for Bury as they won 2-1 at Swindon. The former Rovers man was also booked and included in The League Paper’s Team of the Day!

In The National League, Andy Bond was in the AFC Fylde side that recorded a 3-0 win against Gary Waddock’s Aldershot Town, while Ricky Shakes, Danny Woodards and Angelo Balanta all played a part in Boreham Wood’s 1-1 draw against Barrow.

Lyle Della Verde was a second half substitute in Braintree’s 1-0 win at Gateshead, but Luke James and his Hartlepool side had to be content with a point from a 1-1 draw against Eastleigh, for whom Chris Zebroski was introduced as a second half substitute.

Charlie Clough and his Sutton United side continued their winning ways, beating Havant and Waterlooville 2-1, while Matt Harrold was a late substitute in Leyton Orient’s 3-1 win against John Still’s Barnet side at Brisbane Road.

Rory Gaffney scored his second goal of the season as Salford City moved up to fourth place in the league standings with a 2-0 win at Bromley. Gaffney’s display earned him a place in the Non League Paper’s Team of the Day.

In National League North Ryan Green’s management career, albeit temporary, following the sacking of Peter Beadle, got off to a shaky start as Hereford United went down 2-0 against Ashton United at Edgar Street. Green, Danny Greenslade and Martin Horsell all started.

Darlington, though, managed a point in a goalless draw at Southport with Johnny Burn completing the 90 minutes.

AFC Telford United managed a 1-1 home draw against Stockport County, with Adam Dawson entering the fray as a second half substitute.

In the Southern Section, the Bath City trio of Ryan Clarke, Sean Rigg and Ryan Brunt were on the winning side again as The Romans beat Oxford City 2-1 to move up to fifth place in the league.

Chippenham Town were 1-0 winners against Gloucester City, but Weston can’t buy a win at the moment. In spite of the best efforts of Ben Swallow and Jamie Lucas, they suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Hemel Hempstead and remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Chris Dickson can’t stop scoring, though, and his seventh goal of the season for Hampton and Richmond helped them to a 2-0 win against Truro, for whom assistant manager Michael Meaker was in the home dugout for the first time.

dickson
Chris Dickson began his career at Erith & Belvedere and went on to play for Dulwich Hamlet before signing for Charlton Athletic. Whilst at The Valley he was sent out on loan to Crewe Alexandra, Gillingham, Rovers and Gillingham again. He then went abroad and signed for Nea Salamis Famagusta FC. He later appeared for AEL Limassol and Shanhai Dongva before returning to these shores and Dagenham & Redbridge. Then followed three seasons in Cyprus, playing for Pafos FC, Enosis Neon Paralimni and Ermis Aradippou. On his return to England he turned out for Sutton United and Chelmsford City before signing for Hampton and Richmond Borough (to give them their full title!) in July of this year.
With two full international caps for Ghana to his name, the striker arrived at The Mem in September 2009 and scored four goals in 14 league games. Two of those goals came on his Gas debut, at Brentford.
Not only could he play football, he could sing as well, as I witnessed first hand when he performed his initiation song the night before we were on the wrong end of a 5-1 thrashing against Norwich City at Carrow Road!  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]

Bradley Goldberg saw his spot kick saved in the game against East Thurrock, but it made little difference as his Welling United side won 2-0. No goals for Adam Cunnington, whose Billericay side were held to a 1-1 draw by Dartford, or for Alex Wall, as his Concord Rangers outfit were beaten 2-0 by St Albans.

A former Gas goalie we haven’t mentioned to date is Danny Greaves. Now Frome Town manager, he saw his side slip to a 3-2 defeat at Farnborough, while a current Gas keeper, Liam Armstrong, was in the Tiverton side that drew 2-2 at Kings Langley.

Yate Town also drew 2-2, with Moneyfields, while Mangotsfield United recorded their first win, and points, of the season as they were 1-0 winners at Cinderford Town. Meanwhile Lewis Powell was on target for Larkhall in their 1-1 draw at Slimbridge.

It was also FA Vase day and Andy Gurney’s Roman Glass St George went through to the next round by virtue of a 3-0 victory over the delightfully named Bemerton Heath Harlequins, while Jack McKenna was on target for Cribbs in their 5-1 win against Shortwood United.

Ray Johnston’s Hallen were another team to make progress in the competition as they beat Hengrove Athletic 4-0.


 

WEEK FIVE – Starting 3rd September 2018

Tuesday saw many League One and Two sides involved in Checkatrade Trophy action and Tom Parkes was on the winning side as Carlisle United registered a 3-2 win against Morecambe at Brunton Park.

Harry Pell was on the bench for Colchester, who lost 2-0 to Southampton U-21’s, while Reggie Lambe was on target for Cambridge United in their 3-1 defeat against Southend at Roots Hall.

An all west country affair at Huish Park saw Alefe Santos start for Yeovil and Jordan Tillson and Hiram Boateng for Exeter City. The game ended goalless, but Exeter claimed the bonus point as they won the penalty shootout 4-3.

John-Joe O’Toole and Andy Williams were in the Northampton Town side beaten 1-0 by Wycombe Wanderers at Sixfields, but there was no Joe Jacobson in the Wycombe squad.

Former Gas goalies Aaron Chapman and Lee Nicholls were unused substitutes for Peterborough and MK Dons respectively in a match that ended 3-3 with MK winning the subsequent penalty shootout 6-5.

Nathan Blissett scored for Macclesfield Town in their 3-3 draw against Blackpool at Moss Rose, and his side were 5-3 winners in the penalty shootout that saw Marc Bola miss his spot kick for Blackpool.

Checkatrade Trophy holders Lincoln City began this season’s competition with a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Mansfield Town. Sam Slocombe and Bernard Mensah started for The Imps, while John Akinde was an unused substitute. Conrad Logan was in goal for Mansfield.

A big crowd of 874! Saw Scunthorpe and Wolves U-21’s play out a goalless draw and Scunthorpe, for whom Matt Lund started, won the penalty shootout 4-2.

Lee Brown was an unused substitute for Portsmouth who thrashed Gillingham 4-0, but there was no sign of Tom Eaves in The Gills lineup.

There was a full programme of National League fixtures on this evening as well and Rory Gaffney and Andy Bond faced each other as AFC Fylde took on Salford City with Gaffney’s side winning 2-1.

Angelo Balanta was on the winning side again as his Boreham Wood outfit beat Chesterfield 1-0 while Lyle Della Verde was a second half substitute for Braintree Town in their 1-0 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Hartlepool, for whom Luke James completed the 90 minutes, were held to a goalless draw by Barrow, while Matt Harrold scored a last minute goal for Leyton Orient in their 3-0 win against Solihull Moors, a victory that saw the O’s move up to second place in the table.

Chris Zebroski picked up a yellow card as his Eastleigh side were beaten 2-0 by Maidenhead United, but Charlie Clough was on the winning side again as his Sutton United side moved into seventh place courtesy of their 1-0 win against Maidstone United.

On the Wednesday the Hampshire derby between Havant and Waterlooville and Aldershot in the National League attracted a crowd of 1,989. Although Scott Rendell scored a last minute goal for The Shots it was no more than a consolation and their 2-1 defeat saw them drop into the bottom four.

Thursday sees me being elected to the Rovers Former Players Association at their AGM, which seems to be another good way to remain involved with the club.

That same evening Wales take on the Republic of Ireland and thrash them 4-1. No place in the side for Tom Lockyer, who had to be content with a place on the bench, but joy for Connor Roberts who, on his first start for the senior Welsh side, scored a stunning goal.

Friday, and more international football sees Richard Evans, now working for Belgium of course, take his place with Roberto Martinez on the bench and watch his side cruise to a 4-0 win over a pretty poor Scottish side in this friendly fixture.

One day later and it’s only a full programme of fixtures in Leagues One and Two because of the international games.

Rovers take a point from a goalless draw against Plymouth Argyle at The Mem, where goalkeepers excelled in a game of few chances. Plymouth custodian Matt Macey is a former Rovers Academy graduate and he was joined in the Argyle lineup by another former Gasman in Gary Sawyer.

It was a first home appearance for Rovers latest goalkeeper, Jack Bonham, while there were first league starts for Michael Kelly and Gavin Reilly. Kelly’s performance earned him a place in The League Paper’s Team of the Day.

Elsewhere in League One, Marc Bola was in the Blackpool side that scored three goals in the last six minutes to register a 3-2 win against Bradford City.

Paris Cowan-Hall was on target for Wycombe Wanderers , and Joe Jacobson was also in the starting lineup, in their 3-2 defeat at Charlton. Tom Eaves was also on the losing side as his Gillingham team were beaten 1-0 by AFC Wimbledon at The Priestfield Stadium.

Portsmouth, with Lee Brown in the side, drew 1-1 against Shrewsbury for whom Ollie Norburn started and Charlie Colkett was an unused substitute.

No goals for Matt Lund, playing against another of his former clubs, Rochdale, but he started in the 3-3 draw at Glanford Park.

Goalkeeper Aaron Chapman and his Peterborough side won 3-2 at Southend to continue their unbeaten start to the season and move to the top of the table.

Byron Moore went on as a tenth minute substitute for Bury in their 4-0 win against Grimsby at Gigg Lane but Dominic Telford was missing from the squad.

No sign of Reggie Lambe in the Cambridge lineup, but Tom Parkes was in the Carlisle side that recorded a 2-1 win at The Abbey Stadium. Meanwhile Jordan Tillson and Hiram Boateng starred for Exeter in their 5-1 win against Notts County, with Boateng making the League Paper’s League Two Team of the Day.

John Akinde was in the Lincoln City starting lineup, Sam Slocombe was on the bench, but no sign of Bernard Mensah as The Imps were beaten 1-0 by Crawley Town at Sincil Bank.

John-Joe O’Toole started, while Andy Wiiliams went on as a second half substitute for Northampton in their home game against Cheltenham Town, but it made no difference as the Gloucestershire Robins, who included Ryan Broom in their side, ran out 3-1 winners.

David Pipe was also on the winning side, as his Newport County side won 1-0 against Oldham at Boundary Park, and Harry Pell was on target for the second week running as he scored Colchester’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Tranmere.

Down in The National League, Matt Harrold went on as a second half substitute for Leyton Orient, who extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw at FC Halifax Town.

Two former Gasmen, now managers at this level, Gary Waddock and John Still, were also winners on this day. Waddock’s Aldershot Town beat Bromley 3-2, with Scott Rendell on target for The Shots. Still’s Barnet side recorded a fifth consecutive victory, beating Maidenhead 1-0 at The Hive.

Another unbeaten run was extended, as Salford City made it seven games without defeat, recording a 1-0 win against Maidstone United. Rory Gaffney was again a starter, but failed to find the back of the net.

Hartlepool, and Luke James, also extended their unbeaten run to seven as they beat Solihull Moors 1-0, but Eastleigh and Chris Zebroski had to be content with a point from a goalless draw against AFC Fylde for whom Andy Bond was an unused substitute.

I have to confess that the Irn Bru Cup has sailed completely under my radar, at least until now; it is a Scottish cup competition, after all! However Boreham Wood and Sutton United were both involved in the competition on this particular day.

Ricky Shakes, but not Angelo Balanta or Danny Woodards, were in the Boreham Wood side that went out of the competition in a penalty shootout, losing 6-5 to Dunfermline Athletic following a goalless draw.

Sutton United, though, went through to the last 16 of the competition following their 1-0 win at Airdrie. And they did it without the services of Charlie Clough, who was not in the squad on this occasion.

In National League North, there was a second win of the season for Darlington, who beat AFC Telford United 3-0. Johnny Burn was a starter for Darlo, and Alex Henshall an unused substitute, while Adam Dawson went on after the hour mark for Telford.

No joy for Peter Beadle’s Hereford United, though, as they went down 2-0 at Brackley Town. Ryan Green, Martin Horsell, Eliot Richards and Danny Greenslade all started for The Bulls, as did Jennison Myrie-Williams who, I seem to recall, had at least two trial spells with Rovers.

In the Southern Section Ryan Brunt scored two goals in a game for the third time this season as Bath City ran out 4-1 winners against Hungerford Town at Twerton Park. It earned Brunt a place in the Non League Paper’s National League North & South Team of the Day, though his Bath City colleagues Ryan Clarke and Sean Rigg had to be content with a seven out of ten for their performances in the win! Appearing for the visitors was former Rovers Development player Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis, though he was unable to add to the three goals he has scored so far.

Plymouth Argyle V Bristol Rovers 070913
Still only 25 years old, Ryan Brunt began his career at Stoke City and went out on loan to Nantwich Town, Luton Town, Tranmere Rovers and Leyton Orient before arriving in BS7 in January 2013.  Whilst at The Mem he was loaned to York City and Stevenage before signing for Plymouth Argyle in January 2015.  From Home Park he moved to Exeter City in August 2017 and pitched up at Twerton Park in June of this year.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
No goals for Alex Wall on this occasion, as his Concord Rangers side drew 1-1 with Woking, while Bradley Goldberg was an unused substitute for Welling United in their goalless draw against Chelmsford City.

Michael Meaker, now one half of the Truro City management team, saw his new side record a 2-0 win against Gloucester City, while Adam Cunnington was on target for second placed Billericay Town as they recorded a 2-0 win against Hemel Hempstead.

Weston super Mare remain rooted to the foot of the table, and without a win, following their 3-1 defeat at Hampton and Richmond. Chris Dickson was on target for the home side, scoring his sixth goal of the season. Jamie Lucas scored Weston’s consolation and Ben Swallow was an unused substitute.

It was the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on this day and trying to find any Rovers connections proved to be difficult. There was no sign of Cameron Allen in the Dorchester Town side that recorded a 1-1 draw against Wimborne Town.

However Liam Armstrong kept another clean sheet for Tiverton as they went through to the next round by virtue of a 1-0 win at Bridport. Yate Town drew 1-1 at Salisbury, though trying to discover if James Spruce or Olly Mehew played any part in that game is next to impossible and I give up!

This week comes to an end with an England game, against Spain at Wembley where Martyn Margetson takes his place on the bench as England’s goalkeeping coach. It’s a tenuous international link, I know, but Margetson did make three appearances for Rovers back in 1993.

That was on the Saturday; on Sunday Wales were beaten 2-0 by Denmark with Connor Roberts getting another start and Tom Lockyer again warming the bench.


 

WEEK FOUR – Starting 27th August 2018

Bank Holiday Monday sees what amounts to a full programme of non league football and in the National League Gary Waddock’s Aldershot Town recorded a 2-1 win against a Sutton United side with Charlie Clough in their lineup.

John Still presided over Barnet’s 2-1 win against his former club Dagenham & Redbridge, while Lyle Della-Verde was on the losing side, as he and his Braintree team mates suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Maidenhead.

Luke James was yellow carded in Hartlepool’s 1-0 win over Chesterfield, while Matt Harrold was back in the Leyton Orient lineup and went on as a late substitute in their 3-0 win against Dover.

Angelo Balanta found the net for Boreham Wood in their 2-1 win at Maidstone, but there was no goal for Rory Gaffney in Salford’s 3-0 win against Barrow.

Johnny Burn was in action for Darlington, who drew 2-2 at Ashton United in National League North, but Hereford United were without a game.

In National League South, Sean Rigg scored one of Bath City’s two goals that helped The Romans beat local rivals Weston super Mare 2-0, but Chippenham Town were beaten 2-1 at Hampton and Richmond.

Finding out lineups for these Bank Holiday fixtures proved to be difficult, to say the least, hence the reason for including a results only service for some of the teams I have been following because of their Rovers connections.

In the Southern League Premier Division, Dorchester Town were thrashed 5-1 by league leaders Weymouth.

Lower down the pyramid, Yate Town were 3-1 winners at Cossham Street, against Mangotsfield United, and Larkhall Athletic drew 1-1 at Melksham Town.

There was news of a new goalkeeper at Rovers, as Brentford’s Jack Bonham joined the club on loan and was named on the bench for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

In spite of an improved performance, though, Rovers still looked poor in both boxes and found themselves two goals down inside 20 minutes. Having squandered three chances to pull a goal back early in the second half, they conceded again and all they had to show for their efforts was Matt Upson’s consolation goal three minutes from time.

As with many clubs in the competition, a great many made wholesale changes to their starting lineups and Swansea were no exception, leaving out Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie. Their opponents, Crystal Palace, also made several changes, but it was them who scored the only goal of the game to go through to the next round.

Lincoln City made seven changes for their trip to face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park and handed goalkeeper Sam Slocombe his first team debut while John Akinde was a second half substitute. Both players probably wished they had stayed at home as Blackburn ran out 4-1 winners.

Marc Bola was in the Blackpool side that won 2-1 at Doncaster, while Cian Bolger was in the Fleetwood Town side comprehensively beaten 4-0 at Leicester.

Ryan Broom was on the losing side in West London, as Cheltenham Town lost 1-0 at Brentford and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was rested by Cardiff, who suffered a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Norwich City.

Jordan Tillson started for Exeter City, and Hiram Boateng was a second half substitute as The Grecians were beaten 2-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage and Ryan Sweeney was in the Mansfield Town side beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion.

Joe Jacobson was in the Wycombe Wanderers side that beat Forest Green Rovers in a penalty shootout to go through to the next round.

In the Checkatrade Trophy, Ollie Norburn was in the Shrewsbury Town side who went on to beat Manchester City’s U-21 side in a penalty shootout.

Wednesday saw more Carabao Cup games and Gary Sawyer was in the Plymouth Argyle side beaten 3-2 by Millwall at The New Den.

Thursday saw Rovers sign Joe Martin, from Stevenage, on loan. The left back, son of former England international Alvin, will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s game against Shrewsbury Town.

Scott Sinclair was in European action, as he started in Celtic’s Europa League game against Suduva at Parkhead and was on the winning side as a 3-0 victory saw them through to the group stages of the competition.

Friday saw another departure from The Mem as Bernard Mensah became the third former Rovers player to joining Lincoln City, following in the footsteps of Sam Slocombe and John Akinde. Mensah moves to Sincil Bank on a season long loan.

Friday night football sees Tony Pulis in the Middlesbrough dugout as his side took on Leeds United at Elland Road and claim a point from a goalless draw, leaving the two teams first and second in the fledgling Championship table.

Matchday once again and the Saturday sees Rovers travel to take on Shrewsbury Town, still without a win this season.

With two former players in their lineup, Andy Rodman and Stefan Payne, up against a former Rovers player in Ollie Norburn, it could have been an interesting afternoon. However, the contest never really sparked into life.

Payne scored from the penalty spot for Rovers and a Daniel Leadbitter own goal sealed a point for the home side. Between the goals, Joe Martin became only the third Rovers player to be sent off on his debut (Ian Weston and Wayne Carlisle are the other two). Thankfully goalkeeper Jack Bonham, also making his debut, remained on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes!

In The Championship goalkeeper Joe Lumley, on the bench for QPR in their midweek cup tie against The Gas, kept a clean sheet as the Loftus Road outfit drew 0-0 at Birmingham.

Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie were back in the starting lineup for Swansea and McBurnie scored the winning goal for The Swans, who won 2-1 at Millwall.

Back into League One and Matt Lund was on target for Scunthorpe United in their 1-1 draw against Accrington Stanley, in their first match under new manager Stuart McCall.

No goals for Tom Eaves on this occasion though, but his Gillingham side also shared the spoils as they drew 1-1 against Barnsley at Oakwell.

Cian Bolger was missing from the Fleetwood Town Squad as they took on, and beat, Bradford City, but Lee Brown starred for Portsmouth as they overcame Plymouth Argyle 3-0 at Fratton Park, his performance earning him a place in the League Paper’s Team of the Day. Argyle skipper Gary Sawyer and goalkeeper Matt Macey were on the receiving end of that defeat, a game that saw Pompey cement second place in the table and see Plymouth anchored at the bottom.

Marc Bola’s Blackpool secured a point from a goalless draw at Walsall, meaning they have drawn all three away games this season by that score. Wycombe Wanderers and Luton Town also shared the points, drawing 1-1 at Adams Park where Joe Jacobson scored the home side’s goal from the penalty spot.

In League Two, Dominic Telford scored twice as Bury beat Morecambe 3-2, but Byron Moore was again an unused substitute.

Harry Pell scored a late penalty for Colchester against another of his former clubs, Cheltenham Town, as the U’s won 3-1 at Whaddon Road.

Hiram Boateng was in the Exeter side beaten 3-0 by Lincoln City and Jordan Tillson was an unused substitute. John Akinde scored one of the Lincoln goals, Sam Slocombe was on the bench and it has to be assumed that Bernard Mensah was in the stand!

Another bench warmer was Alefe Santos (again) as he watched his Yeovil Town colleagues win 1-0 at Grimsby.

At Field Mill, or whatever it’s now called, Conrad Logan was on the bench for Mansfield, while central defenders Ryan Sweeney and Tom Parkes turned out for Mansfield and Carlisle respectively. Mansfield took all three points from a 1-0 win.

John-Joe O’Toole started, while Andy Williams was an unused substitute in Northampton’s 1-1 draw against Tranmere Rovers. Daniel Jones did start for Notts County in their 3-1 home defeat against Forest Green Rovers, but didn’t complete the 90 minutes as he was red carded with new manager Harry Kewell looking on.

David Pipe was on the winning side again, as his Newport County team won 2-1 at Port Vale to move up to second place in the league standings.

One former Gas player who has slipped under the radar until now is Reggie Lambe who is now with Cambridge United and started in their 1-0 win at Stevenage.

Down in The National League, Angelo Balanta started for Boreham Wood in their 1-1 draw against Braintree Town for whom Lyle Della-Verde made a substitute appearance four minutes from time, while Matt Harrold went on for the final half an hour of Leyton Orient’s 1-0 win at Chesterfield.

No goals again for Rory Gaffney, whose Salford City side drew 0-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge, but John Still’s Barnet won again, 2-1 at Dover, to continue their climb up the table.

Chris Zebroski was in the Eastleigh side thrashed 4-0 at Harrogate Town and Luke James started for Hartlepool in their 2-1 win at Havant and Waterlooville, while Charlie Clough was in the Sutton United side held to a 1-1 draw by FC Halifax.

Andy Bond didn’t get on the scoresheet, but his AFC Fylde side moved up to third place in the league following their 3-1 win at Ebbsfleet United.

Another former Rovers player not yet mentioned is Adam Dawson, now playing for AFC Telford United in National League North and who was in their side that made it eight unbeaten with a 2-1 home win over Ashton United.

In the same division, Johnny Burn’s Darlington were beaten 1-0 by Alfreton Town, while Peter Beadle’s Hereford United picked up a point from a home draw against York City.

Down in the Southern Section, Andy Sandell’s Chippenham Town were 4-1 winners against Concord Rangers, whose consolation goal was scored by Alex Wall, but Bath City were beaten 1-0 by East Thurrock United.

Meanwhile Weston, with Ben Swallow and a smattering of former Rovers players on show, continued their miserable start to the season following a 1-0 defeat to Eastbourne Borough.

Further down the pyramid, the current crop of Rovers loanees saw their sides meet with mixed fortunes. Dorchester Town were 2-1 winners over Hartley Witney, Tiverton Town won 2-0 at Beaconsfield Town, and Larkhall Athletic, thanks to two Lewis Powell goals, were 2-0 winners against Thatcham Town.

Yate Town maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw against Cinderford Town, but Mangotsfield United are still without a point following their 4-2 defeat at Paulton Rovers.

One day later, there were former Rovers players involved in three matches. Neil Etheridge kept goal for Cardiff City, still looking for their first Premier League win following their 3-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal, while Matty Taylor came off the bench in Bristol City’s 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers.

neil
Current Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge appeared in 12 league games when on loan to The Gas in 2012, before returning to Fulham, his parent club.  Since then he has played for Crewe Alexandra on loan, Oldham Athletic, Charlton Athletic and Walsall. He signed for Cardiff in May 2017 and has been virtually ever present for them ever since. A former England Youth international, (at U-16 level) he chose to play full international football for The Philippines, the country where his mother was born.  He has now won 60 international caps for his country.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
Ellis Harrison managed just five minutes game time for Ipswich in the East Anglian derby against Norwich City, which ended 1-1.


 

WEEK THREE – Starting 21st August 2018

Monday saw me wined and dined (well, I didn’t have to pay for my meal!) by Mo Bell and Alan Cockayne of the Rovers Former Players Association, as they would like me to join their committee and have invited me to their AGM on 6th September.

It’s a way of staying involved and I’m inclined to accept, along with the invitation to join the President’s Club Committee; looks like I’m going to become a professional committee person!

Tuesday evening sees Rovers take on one of the divisions favourites for promotion, Portsmouth, and lose by the odd goal in three, making it five consecutive 2-1 scorelines this season, two in their favour, and three for the opposition.

A Memorial Stadium crowd of over 9,000 saw a hugely entertaining game in which Darrell Clarke’s side were unlucky not to take at least a point against a Pompey side who included Lee Brown in their starting lineup.

As it was, they fell behind in the first half but equalised through a Chris Lines penalty on 76 minutes. The midfielder was then red carded after spending only nine minutes on the pitch, and Pompey scored the winner three minutes from time.

Earlier that day goalkeeper Sam Slocombe joined Lincoln City in an emergency loan deal but was on the bench for his new side’s win against Bury. Ironically, Slocombe had lost his place in the Rovers side to Adam Smith and found himself warming the bench at Sincil Bank while Grant Smith kept goal for the Red Imps. Kept out by the Smiths!

In that match, by the way, Dominic Telford kept the bench warm for Bury while Byron Moore was introduced as a second half substitute.

Elsewhere in League One, Shrewsbury, minus Charlie Colkett and Ollie Norburn, managed a goalless draw at Doncaster, but Joe Jacobson was in the Wycombe Wanderers side that drew 1-1 at Plymouth.

In the Championship, again no goals for Ellis Harrison as his Ipswich side were beaten 2-0 at Derby. Probably best not to mention Ellis again until he scores!

One former Rovers striker was on target, though, Matty Taylor scoring Bristol City’s opener in their 3-0 win at QPR.

Swansea’s Oli McBurnie and Connor Roberts have yet to lose a game this season and McBurnie scored both Swansea goals in their 2-2 draw against Leeds United.

Down in League Two, Exeter’s Jordan Tillson (I should add that I am including the son of Andy in these articles as he was on the Gas books as a youngster and only just missed out on being offered a pro contract) and Hiram Boateng are two more ex Gas not to be on the losing side this season and The Grecians remained at the top of the table following their 2-0 win at Cambridge.

Andy Williams and John-Joe O’Toole were in the Northampton side beaten 1-0 at Morecambe and David Pipe was an unused substitute in Newport’s 3-2 win against Notts County.

Ryan Sweeney started for Mansfield in their goalless draw at Tranmere, while goalkeeper Conrad Logan was only on the bench and in another goalless draw, between Yeovil and Oldham, Alefe Santos was also an unused substitute.

Wednesday saw another night of EFL football, in the Championship and League One at, though there was no Rovers involvement in any of the Championship games.

In League One Tom Eaves continued his goalscoring run, but after his third minute goal for Gillingham, they were overrun by a rampant Sunderland side who scored four goals to move up to fourth in the table.

Matt Lund was probably glad that he was on the bench for Scunthorpe, as his side suffered a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Fleetwood, though there was no sign of Cian Bolger in Joey Barton’s side, who moved into sixth place following this comprehensive victory.

Friday night football saw Tony Pulis see his Middlesbrough side move to the top of the Championship table following their 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion, and there were five ties in the preliminary round of the FA Cup, though whether or not any former Rovers players were involved, I couldn’t tell you.

One result that, for some reason caught my eye, was Thetford Town 0 Godmanchester Rovers 5.  No idea why, just that the name of the winners somehow appealed!

Matchday at The Mem and the expectation was that Rovers would gain their first home win of the season as they entertained Southend United in the 105th league game between the sides.

Things never go to plan, though, do they? Tom Lockyer was injured in the warm up, Liam Sercombe taken off with what looked like a hamstring injury in the 18th minute and Chris Lines sat the game out through suspension and the visitors took all three points with a 1-0 victory.

It was one of the worst Rovers games I have seen in a while and they were booed off at the final whistle by some so called supporters.

In the Championship, Joe Lumley was in goal for QPR as they recorded their first win of the season, beating Wigan Athletic 1-0, but there were no goals for you know who at Ipswich as they lost 2-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.

Another former Rovers custodian, Luke Daniels, was on the bench for Brentford who suffered a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn.

No joy for the Swansea duo of Roberts and McBurnie though, as The Swans suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Matty Taylor and Bristol City.

Bristol Rovers v Crawley Town 020416
Oli McBurnie, who was with Rovers for the latter part of the 2015/16 season, on loan from Swansea City.  After leaving The Mem he enjoyed two lengthy loan spells with Barnsley but is now back with his parent club and is also a full Scottish international having previously been capped at U19 and U-21 levels.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
In League One, Joe Jacobson was on the winning side at Valley Parade where Wycombe Wanderers were 2-1 winners against Bradford City and Cian Bolger was on the bench for Fleetwood who drew 0-0 against Charlton Athletic at The Valley.

Lee Brown’s Portsmouth also drew 0-0, at Doncaster and another ex Rover involved in a drawn game was Tom Eaves whose Gillingham side were held to a 1-1 draw by Coventry City at the Priestfield Stadium.

Gary Sawyer was used as a second half substitute for Plymouth, and Matt Macey was in goal, but they were thrashed 5-1 at Home Park by Peterborough United, who maintained their 100% start to the season. Goalkeeper Aaron Chapman must be glad that he made the move to London Road from Accrington Stanley in the summer!

Still no goals for Matt Lund, though, who was in the Scunthorpe side that drew 2-2 with Barnsley at Glanford Park.

Marc Bola, who I thought might still be a Rovers player this season, was in the Blackpool side that took a point from a 1-1 draw against Accrington Stanley at Bloomfield Road.

Down in League Two, Tom Parkes was in the Carlisle side that beat Crewe 1-0 at Brunton Park while John-Joe O’Toole started, and Andy Williams was a second half substitute, for Northampton who won 2-1 at Colchester.

Dominic Telford started for Bury, but Byron Moore was an unused substitute as The Shakers lost 3-2 at Crawley Town while Sam Slocombe was again on the bench for Lincoln, who moved to the top of the table following their 3-1 win against Notts County. No goals for John Akinde on this occasion, though!

With Conrad Logan on the bench and Ryan Sweeney in the starting lineup, Mansfield Town drew 1-1 at Macclesfield and Lee Nicholls kept a clean sheet as MK Dons beat Exeter 1-0. Jordan Tillson was an unused substitute and Hiram Boateng was in the starting lineup for The Grecians.

David Pipe and Alefe Santos were unused substitutes for Newport County and Yeovil Town respectively, the Welsh side beating Grimsby Town 1-0 and The Glovers 2-0 winners against Stevenage.

Moving swiftly on to The National League, and Lyle Della-Verde was a second half substitute for Braintree Town, who were beaten 1-0 at Barrow, while Angelo Balanta was on the winning side for Boreham Wood, who beat FC Halifax 2-1.

He didn’t score, but Luke James was in the Hartlepool side that recorded a 2-1 win at Dagenham & Redbridge. Aldershot boss Gary Waddock, though, saw his side lose again, this time 3-1 at Ebbsfleet United.

Rory Gaffney was substituted in the second half of Salford City’s 1-1 draw at Havant and Waterlooville and Charlie Clough’s Sutton United also had to share the spoils, as they played out a goalless draw against AFC Fylde.

National League North side Hereford United went down to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Bradford PA in spite of the best efforts of Martin Horsell, Ryan Green and Danny Greenslade, not forgetting manager Peter Beadle.

Darlington, with Johnny Burn in their lineup, but not Alex Henshall, were beaten 3-0 by Altrincham.

In National League South, Bath City went down 1-0 at Chelmsford City, so no win bonus for manager Jerry Gill and his Rovers representatives Ryan Clarke, Sean Rigg and Ryan Brunt!

Andy Sandell had just six minutes of game time for Chippenham Town, coming off the bench in the 84th minute of their 2-0 home win over Billericay Town.

One of last season’s Development Squad players, Charlie Ten-Groutenhuis, was in the Hungerford Town side who beat Dartford 1-0, but Jamie Lucas (not sure why I haven’t mentioned him before, and his Weston super Mare side had to be content with a point from a 1-1 home draw against Oxford City. Also in the Weston side was Nabi Diallo, a former Rovers Academy player, and Ben Swallow.

Bradley Goldberg was a starter for Welling United in their 1-1 draw against Hemel Hempstead and Alex Wall was on the scoresheet for Concord Rangers in their 1-1 draw at Wealdstone.

Cameron Allen was in the Dorchster side held to a 2-2 draw by King’s Langley, while Liam Armstrong’s Tiverton side also drew 2-2, at Harrow Borough.

It was FA Cup day again and there was an early exit for Mangotsfield United, beaten 2-0 at Buckland Athletic so no joy for Connor Jones.

The same goes for Alfie Clarke and Lewis Powell, whose Larkhall side went down 1-0 at Plymouth Parkway, but Olly Mehew and James Spruce were on the winning side as Yate Town won 3-0 at Cheddar.

It was the end of the road for Ray Johnston’s Hallen, though, beaten 5-0 by Bridport.


 

WEEK TWO – Starting 7th August 2018

The week following the opening day of the campaign saw a full round of National League fixtures, as well as Conference North and South, take place on Tuesday evening and no former Rovers players appeared on the scoresheet in the top division where Rory Gaffney’s Salford City suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at Gateshead.

In the Northern League, Hereford’s Rovers contingent had to settle for a point in their goalless draw at Nuneaton, though what caught my eye in this league was York (Wes) scoring for York in their 1-0 home win against Stockport County. Reminded me of the time that Wayne Carlisle scored twice for Rovers in a game against Carlisle!

Down in the Southern League, Alex Wall was on target again for Concord Rangers as they picked up a point from a 1-1 draw against Billericay Town, while Chippenham Town kept a clean sheet as they defeated Slough Town 1-0.

In the same league, Bath City suffered a second successive defeat, going down 1-0 at Torquay United. Strange to see the Seagulls playing at this level, as it’s only a few years since they accompanied us out of the league into what was then The Conference.

Still no sign of any new players coming to BS7, though Darrell Clarke insists he would like to sign two strikers before the first home game of the campaign.

A great deal of negativity on social media and forums regarding The Gas, but we’ve only played one game for heaven’s sake!

Deadline day arrives and Darrell, true to his word, brings in two strikers, Stefan Payne from Shrewsbury in a permanent deal and Watford’s Alex Jakubiak on a season long loan.

Speaking of Shrewsbury, they added a second former Gas player to their ranks, when they signed Ollie Norburn from Tranmere Rovers.

Meanwhile five of Rovers Development Squad go out on loan to local non league clubs. Goalkeeper Liam Armstrong headed for Tiverton Town, where he played 11 games last season. The young shot stopper also enjoyed loan spells with Paulton Rovers and Larkhall Athletic.

Striker James Spruce headed for Yate Town in a one month loan deal, Connor Jones returned for another loan spell at Mangotsfield, Alfie Clarke returned to Larkhall for another loan spell and Cameron Allen headed off to Dorchester Town.

First home game of the season, against Accrington Stanley, and it seems strange for me not to be involved save for a place in the commentary box.

Great to be on the radio again, but a very poor performance from Rovers, who looked strangely out of sorts and were beaten 2-1 by last season’s League Two champions. One major positive for The Gas was the form shown by new striker Stefan Payne, who scored a debut goal.

It was also the start of The Premier League season, though it’s a truncated beginning as SKY dictate the four days of games. Manchester United got off to a winning start on Friday evening, and in the Saturday games there was very little Gas representation though Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was between the posts for their debut at the top table. However, he couldn’t prevent them slipping to a 2-0 defeat at AFC Bournemouth.

No sign of any other former Rovers players turning out in the top tier. Donovan Wilson (at Wolves), is currently on a season long loan at Spanish side FC Jumila, along with eight of his Wolverhampton Wanderers team mates!

Wilson, of course, made a brief substitute appearance against The Gas in last season’s Carabao Cup tie at Molineux, and subsequently went out on loan to Port Vale where he scored once in eight league games.

Former Gas player and manager Paul Trollope, now assistant to Chris Hughton at Brighton, was on the losing side as the Seagulls lost 2-0 at Watford.

Huddersfield did have a Hamer playing in goal for them against Chelsea, but I’m pretty sure in wasn’t Rovers Chairman Steve!

In the Championship, Ellis Harrison awaits his first goal for Ipswich. The former Rovers striker was substituted in the second half of their 1-0 defeat at Rotherham, though Swansea’s Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie were again on the winning side as The Swans recorded a 1-0 home win over Preston.

Tom Eaves, scored twice as Gillingham beat Burton Albion 3-1, but there was no joy for the two former Rovers players at Shrewsbury. Ollie Norburn made his debut in their 2-1 defeat at Charlton, while Charlie Colkett was an unused substitute.

Former Gas goalkeeper Scott Shearer made an unexpected appearance for Oxford United after regular shot stopper Simon Eastwood sustained a badly fractured finger during the warm up. Shearer conceded two goals as the U’s went down 2-0 to Fleetwood, and the second came from the penalty spot after his foul on Wes Grant and Paddy Madden beat him from 12 yards.

Down in League Two, there was still no place in the Mansfield lineup for Ryan Sweeney, an unused substitute again for The Stags, who drew 2-2 at Yeovil where Alefe Santos started for The Glovers and Conrad Logan kept his place in goal for the visitors.

Tom Parkes was in the Carlisle side that drew 2-2 against Northampton Town at Brunton Park, and while there was no John-Joe O’Toole in the Cobblers lineup, Andy Williams again started.

John Akinde got off the mark for Lincoln City, scoring from the penalty spot in their 4-1 home win over Swindon Town. Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls kept a clean sheet for MK Dons in their 1-0 home win against Bury for whom Dom Telford made an appearance from the bench in the second half, though there was no sign of Byron Moore.

Up in Scotland, Scott Sinclair found himself on the losing side, which has been a rare occurrence since he moved north of the border. On this occasion his Celtic side were beaten 1-0 at Hearts who had Michael Smith in their Lineup. A former Rovers Player of the Year, ‘Smudge’ picked up a yellow card in this match.

In the National League, there was no joy for Luke James (good footballer, but seldom scores!) and his Hartlepool team mates as they suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Ebbsfleet United.

Gary Waddock’s Aldershot find themselves at the bottom of the National League, with one point after three games. On this particular Saturday they lost 1-0 at Solihull Moors.

In the battle of the former Gas players at Sutton, Charlie Clough came out on top as the home side beat Rory Gaffney’s Salford City 2-1.

Hereford continued their fine start to the season with a 3-1 win at Curzon Ashton, though no Rovers players on the scoresheet on this occasion and in the same league (National League North) Alex Henshall was on the winning side as Darlington were 4-2 winners at Brackley Town.

In the Southern Section of the National League, Chippenham Town shipped another four goals, though Will Puddy was not on duty on this occasion. Andy Sandell was in the side defeated 4-1 by Welling United, for whom Bradley Goldberg was on the scoresheet.

Sean Rigg was on target for Bath City, who picked up their first win of the season as they beat Hampton & Richmond 1-0. No goal on this occasion for Alex Wall, though, but his Concord Rangers side won again, 1-0 at Dulwich Hamlet.

The Bostik Leagues kicked off and the most noticeable goalscorer as far as Rovers fans are concerned, was Jamie Cureton, who scored for Bishop’s Stortford in their 1-1 draw with Dorking, watched by a crowd of 274.

Incredibly, it’s almost 22 years since he scored his first goal for Rovers, notching both goals in a 2-0 home win against Chesterfield on 28th September 1996 when the crowd was 5,008!

Jamie Cureton on his way to scoring his first Rovers goals, against Chesterfield, 22 years ago
Jamie Cureton, who has enjoyed a long career in the game and is still scoring goals.   Born in Bristol, he joined The Gas from Norwich City after a loan spell at Bournemouth.
He has since played for Reading, Busan I’Cons, QPR, Swindon Town, Colchester United, Norwich City (again), Barnsley, Shrewsbury Town, Exeter City, Leyton Orient, Exeter City (again), Cheltenham Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Farnborough, Eastleigh, Farnborough (again), St Albans City before pitching up at current club Bishop’s Stortford.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
And what of our five loanees and their new clubs? Liam Armstrong kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 win at Swindon Supermarine, though Cameron Allen’s Dorchester side suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Metropolitan Police.

Mangotsfield United, Larkhall Athletic and Yate Town begin their league campaigns in a week’s time.

It was also FA Cup day, with many clubs involved in the Extra Preliminary Round and there was no joy for Andy Gurney, now manager of Roman Glass St George. Playing their first ever game in the competition, they went down 5-2 at Bradford Town.

Ray Johnston, now manager of Hallen, saw his side play out a goalless draw with Longwell Green, meaning the sides face a replay on Tuesday evening.

Neikell Plummer, a former Rovers youth team player, was on the scoresheet for Melksham Town, on his debut for the Wiltshire club, who beat Badshot Lea 4-0.

 


 

WEEK ONE – Saturday 4th August 2018

The dog is on the settee chewing his bits, mother in law is fast asleep in her reclining chair, the wife has departed for Ashton Gate as she supports the red half of Bristol, while I’m sat in front of the telly watching Sky Sports news while also listening to Radio Bristol commentary from Peterborough.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I missed the first day of a new campaign; for the last 20 years, I’ve been involved as an employee of Bristol Rovers, so it does seem strange and before that I was on the terraces at Twerton Park and for that very first game at The Mem some 21 years ago.

Back to the dog, Jed, who appears to like tennis more than football judging by the number of tennis balls he gets through every week (most of them lost in the fields and the river in the Congresbury area!)

As for mother in law Barbara, she would rather be watching The Chase or some long forgotten antiques show so hopefully she will sleep most of the afternoon.

The wife, Anne, has a season ticket at The Gate and has gone down with her son, grandson and ex husband. If she’s lucky, he might buy her a coffee, though that doesn’t happen too often I’m told!

Strictly speaking, of course, today isn’t the first day of the new season as the honour of kicking off first went to Reading and Derby last night, courtesy of Sky.

Today, though, is when most of the other 72 EFL clubs get their season underway and, as always, expectations are high. Win today and clubs are going to win promotion; lose and they will be relegated, put in an indifferent performance and the season might be a struggle with the best anyone can hope for being a top ten finish.

Football supporters are both loyal and fickle in equal measures and there seems to be no halfway house, so it will be interesting, for me at least, to follow the fortunes of The Gas on the road from the comfort of my armchair whilst paying more than a passing interest in what’s going on elsewhere around the country.

The day has begun well, with a call from The Chairman asking if I would be happy to continue my radio work, as a summariser, for Radio Bristol for all home games. Not sure why he’s asking and not the radio station, but it’s the first real contact I’ve had from Rovers (apart from receiving my P45), since I resigned from my position as Head of Media at the club.

It means that I can still be involved with the club, albeit on the periphery and is the second offer I’ve received this week, following the one I’ve had to join the President’s Club Committee (I’m still thinking about that one).

Having sent good luck messages to Darrell Clarke and Tom Lockyer, it was pleasing to get responses from both so time to grab a beer or two and settle down in front of the screen for what promises to be an interesting afternoon.

First up is another Sky offering, though, and I have to say this one, Sunderland against Charlton, is of far more interest to me than last night’s Championship fare.

The number of empty seats at the Stadium of Light shows what a vast stadium it is, as there are some 30,000 inside. Charlton, Rovers opening day opponents last season, are only able to name five substitutes.

However new signing Lyle Taylor, from AFC Wimbledon, makes his debut for The Addicks against the side he turned down in the summer and he makes an instant impact, scoring a ninth minute penalty to open his account for his new club.

That was the only goal of the opening 45 minutes and, to be honest, Sunderland were awful and didn’t manage a shot on target until the 42nd minute.

Would have liked to have watched Salford against Leyton Orient as well, to see how Rory Gaffney is getting on in his first game for the club, but don’t have BT so rely on BBC Sport for that one. Goalless at the break so haven’t missed anything!

Gaffney doesn’t take long to open his account, though, scoring two minutes into the second half; good for him and just hope Ellis Harrison gets his first Championship goal later on this afternoon.

Rovers, meanwhile, name a team that shows two players, Alex Rodman and Ed Upson in for their debuts at Peterborough, while two more new lads, Gavin Reilly and Sam Matthews are on the bench.

Just checking the newspapers while Sunderland, who equalise in the second half, toil away at The Stadium of Light. Bought three this morning to see how they were reporting the start of the season – might as well have saved my money.

It’s all Premier League – does anyone really care that Joe Hart might be joining Burnley? Sure, there’s a few reports on Championship sides, but Leagues One and Two might as well not exist. As far as the press are concerned, the season begins in seven days’ time when the Premier League kicks off.

Ninety minutes are up at Sunderland and they managed to take all three points with a last minute winner. Still think they were poor though. As for Gaffney, his new side were pegged back as Orient equalised two minutes from time.

All eyes now on 3.00pm and The Gas at London Road/Abax Stadium or whatever it’s called nowadays. Now I feel like kicking the radio. Less than a minute in and the home side score the first goal of the new season, Matt Godden giving The Posh a 1-0 lead.

What makes things worse is that City have scored after five minutes at Ashton Gate. Finding all this really strange, watching Sky Sports News, listening to Radio Bristol and checking Facebook comments. Can’t manage Rovers tweets as well but will catch up with them at half time!

Absolute madness; now following play on the club Twitter account as well and just as I tune into that Peterborough score again. Twenty six minutes on the clock and 2-0 down. I must be a jinx!

One thing about following the scores on TV is that sometimes the name of a former Rovers player appears on screen, so it was interesting to see Charlie Cough’s name crop up after he scored on his debut for Sutton at Harrogate Town, a side making their debut in the fifth tier of English football.

And then up popped another familiar name. Andy Bond; remember him? Well, he has scored a 45th minute for AFC Fylde in their game against Bromley, also in the National League.

Incredibly, the BBC has a half time league table already up and it shows Rovers in 22nd place, one of four teams on no points with a -2 goal difference!

Have to admit that the second half didn’t sound too great though a final push in the last 20 minutes might have yielded a point. Instead, a late, late, Tom Lockyer goal was the only reward for their efforts and the opening day losing run continues. One win in the last ten and counting!

Lockyer’s goal, incidentally, was scored against a former Gas goalkeeper, Aaron Chapman.

At least City were pegged back by Forest and had to settle for a point, but that’s scant consolation. Listen to Darrell’s post match interview on the radio and he sounded very down beat and when asked if there were any positives he could take from the game, he said there weren’t. Unusual for him!

A full day of football for me, without leaving the living room, and manage to catch the Sheffield United v Swansea game on SKY as well.

Great though it is seeing wall to wall football without leaving the comfort of your own home, I honestly don’t think you can beat the real thing. Would rather have been at Peterborough!

Sunday sees me going through the lineups of league and non league sides for news of any former Rovers players. How sad is that!

There are quite a few and I promise not to mention them all every time they play, honest, but it’s the first day of the season so indulge me!

Starting in The Championship, there is, of course, the aforementioned Ellis Harrison who is a member of the Ipswich side that earn a point from a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

The Swansea lineup for the aforementioned televised game included two former Rovers loanees, Oli McBurnie, who equalised for The Swans after they fell behind at Bramall Lane, and Connor Roberts whose stay at The Mem won’t be remembered fondly by him as he hardly got any game time at all.

Down at The Gate Matty Taylor made an appearance from the bench for City but his erstwhile Rovers strike partner, Billy Bodin, was missing from the Preston lineup and will be for the next six months due to injury.

Preston’s opponents, QPR, included goalkeeper Joe Lumley on the bench. Surprised no one has been in for him, as he’s a keeper I rate as one for the future.

Down in League One, Gillingham’s Tom Eaves was on as a second half substitute in their 2-0 win at Accrington, while Matt Lund was also used from the bench in the second half of Scunthorpe’s win at Coventry.

Lee Brown made his Portsmouth debut in their 1-0 win against Luton, but goalkeeper Matt Macey, on loan at Plymouth, wasn’t so fortunate on his debut, as Argyle lost 2-1 at Walsall.

Charlie Colkett, at Shrewsbury, also made a losing debut as last season’s play off finalists suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Bradford City

Cian Bolger, at Fleetwood, was on the losing side in manager Joey Barton’s first game in charge, as they suffered a home defeat at the hands of AFC Wimbledon.

Joe Jacobson and Paris Cowan-Hall, meanwhile, were in the Wycombe side held to a goalless draw by Blackpool at Adams Park – the only two sides to share the spoils on the opening day.

In League Two there were Bury debuts for Byron Moore and Dominic Telford, both as second half substitutes, in their 1-0 win against Yeovil Town who had Gary Warren making his debut. Not strictly a former Rovers player, Warren and Byron Anthony were vying for the same central defensive position with Rovers back in the summer of 2006 and manager Paul Trollope eventually plumped for Byron, while Gary went on to enjoy a lengthy career in Scottish football with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

There was no place in the Tranmere Rovers lineup for Oliver Norburn, but the former Gas midfielder appears to be in demand with Sunderland, Shrewsbury and MK Dons rumoured to be vying for his signature.

Down at St James’ Park, Hiram Boateng and Jordan Tillson made appearances for Exeter in their 3-1 win against Carlisle United. Nathan Blissett was left on the bench as new boys Macclesfield slipped to a 3-2 defeat at Swindon, as was Ryan Sweeney in Mansfield’s 3-0 win against Newport at Field Mill.

There was a former Gas player on show, though, as goalkeeper Conrad Logan helped the Stags keep a clean sheet. David Pipe was also an unused substitute in this game, helping to keep the Newport bench warm!

Another ex Gas goalkeeper, Lee Nicholls, was on duty for MK Dons as their first match back in League Two following relegation ended in a 2-1 win at another of the relegated sides, Oldham Athletic.

There were three former Rovers players in opposition at Sixfields where John-Joe O’Toole and Andy Williams were were in action for Northampton and John Akinde for Lincoln. Akinde’s side came out on top, winning 1-0.

Defender Daniel Jones and his Notts County side had to be content with a point from a goalless draw against Colchester United at Meadow Lane.

Down in non league, there was a veritable plethora of ex Gas!

In the National League, Angelo Balanta scored the only goal of the game as his Boreham Wood side beat Dagenham & Redbridge, to join former Rovers men Charlie Clough and Andy Bond as players who scored on the opening day of the campaign.

With three spells as Dagenham & Redbridge manager behind him, John Stlll began his third spell in charge at Barnet with a goalless draw at Aldershot, managed by another man with Gas connections, Gary Waddock.

Chris Zebroski was a second half substitute for Eastleigh, who slipped to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Solihull Moors while Luke James, now back at his first club Hartlepool United, was in the starting lineup for their game at Maidstone United which ended 1-1.

Looking at National League North, Hereford United have a number of former Rovers players on their books. Apart from manager Peter Beadle, no fewer than four former players were in the starting lineup for their opening day 4-1 win against Blyth Spartans at Edgar Street and one of them, Eliot Richards, managed to get on the scoresheet.

Martin Horsell, Ryan Green and Danny Greenslade were the other former Rovers players turning out for The Bulls.

Alex Henshall will barely be remembered by many Rovers fans, but he did score a league goal at Accrington whilst he was with us. The Swindon born former Manchester City youngster is now turning out for Darlington and featured in their opening day home defeat against Curzon Ashton.

No sign of Johnny Burn in the Darlington lineup, though; the defender joined his hometown club in June of this year.

More ex Gas featured in National League South and Jerry Gill’s Bath City side, who lost 2-1 to Dartford at Twerton Park, had Ryan Clarke, Sean Rigg and Ryan Brunt in their starting lineup.

Ryan Clarke 1
Ryan Clarke, who made 23 appearances for The Gas and went on to play for Southend United, Kidderminster Harriers and Forest Green Rovers on loan, Salisbury City, Northwich Victoria (loan), Oxford United, Northampton Town, AFC Wimbledon, Eastleigh, and Torquay United before joining Bath City in the summer of 2018.  [Photo courtesy of Neil Brookman / JMP]
Chippenham Town, who have Will Puddy and Andy Sandell on their books, were beaten 4-2 at Hemel Hempstead.

Alex Wall was another former player to feature at this level and he made a goalscoring start on his debut for Concord Rangers, scoring both of their goals in a 2-0 home win over Gloucester City.

Marcus Law’s Kettering Town wound up their pre-season games with a 2-0 win against Bedford Town

Speculation mounted over the weekend that Walsall striker Amadou Bakayoko was on his way to Rovers. However, he didn’t arrive, as predicted, on Monday, and eventually decided to sign for Coventry City leaving manager Darrell Clarke just a few days to make a permanent signing before the closing of the transfer window. The alternative would be a loan, with that particular window remaining open until the end of August.

As the weeks pass, I realise that I omitted several more former Gas players from this opening day effort, but do my best to catch up with more in future chapters!