Bristol Rovers v Mansfield Town Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke takes charge of his 100th match this weekend when his side welcome Mansfield Town to the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers, who won this season’s earlier encounter 2-1 in an ill-tempered match at Field Mill will have a score to settle after it was Mansfield who put the final nail in the relegation coffin when the two sides met on the final day of the 2013/14 season and Clarke has revealed that he is still haunted by that day.

“It was the worst day of my life. The whole summer was a blur because of the disappointment. I’d let the supporters down. I couldn’t get that out of my head.

“I had to pick myself up off the floor every day and it still hurts me now. It did make me stronger and more determined to do what we needed to do the following season to put things right.” He told the Bristol Post.

Since that day, Rovers have bounced back incredibly from the point of no return, winning promotion via a play off final against Grimsby Town and now they sit fifth in League Two, just six points off the top three.

Going into the weekend’s game Clarke has no fresh injury concerns with Ellis Harrison expected to be named on the bench once again as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he sustained whilst on loan at Hartlepool earlier in the year.

The fixture will come too soon for trio Stuart Sinclair, Liam Lawrence and Rory Gaffney who are still recovering from injuries but on loan striker Oliver McBurnie looks set to feature once again with midfielder Billy Bodin returning from illness.

Mansfield manager Adam Murray has said that he hopes to emulate Darrell Clarke’s success speaking of his admiration of what the Gas have done over the past 18 months.

“Speaking to a couple of people, the one thing Bristol Rovers have got at the minute is a bit of momentum.

“What (Darrell) Clarkey has done down there is he’s put a group together that got relegated, but he kept most of them together and they obviously got promoted.

“Now they are going again.” He told the Nottingham Post.

Murray is hoping to welcome back Matty Blair and Krystian Pearce into his squad.

Blair missed last weekend’s game with illness where as Pearce completed a two-game ban. Striker Adi Yussuf begins his five-match ban after being found guilty of urinating in in front of the disabled stand in the 3-0 defeat to Plymouth last month.

Stats

Darrell Clarke spent 14 years at Mansfield at youth and senior level and was former Stags man Liam Lawrence’s mentor at Field Mill.

The match earlier in the season produced as many red cards as goals, three. Jermaine Easter being sent off for Rovers with Krystian Pearce and Nicky Hunt both being dismissed for Mansfield.

On loan Stags forward Colin Daniel was the man who scored the only goal on that fateful day almost two years ago.

21, Bristol Rovers fan for as long as i can remember. Highlight has to be to 06/07 Play Off win. Seen Rovers at 43/92 clubs in England and counting.

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