Typical really, I finally find a good FA friendly image of the ground of Rovers’ opponents for my match preview and my Internet goes down so I am unable to use it. However, thanks to the magic of technology I am able to bring you this preview having established Viva Rovers as an ‘app’ on my iPhone. You wouldn’t get this kind of technicological commitment from the official website, and we don’t bombard you with holiday offers either, nor a choice of exclusive Chlamydia Screening Kits courtesy of Viva Rovers’ official sexual health partners. But enough of my ranting (because my texting finger already hurts), it’s Plymouth Argyle away this weekend. What hoe!
Chances are my Plymouth Hoe gagwent over the heads of our younger fans like a bouncing ball evading Simon Gillet but we’ll soldier on. Yes it’s time for Rovers’ supporters longest trip of the season ad Donny head South West to face Plymouth Argyle, a club currently enduring a torrid time. Indeed thanks to Paul Whitehouse and Aviva contracted ad execs the Pilgrims can’t go anywhere without references to a ‘long old poke’, ‘you janner’ or ‘Green Army’. Not even here.
Anyway, on the pitch at least it’s started to look a little more rosy for Argyle fans as a mini-revival of sorts has seen Plymouth pick up three wins and a draw in their last six games culminating in a surprise 1-0 win at Middlesbrough last weekend. It was a positive week for Plymouth fans as that victory came just days after club legend Paul Mariner was unveiled as new head coach, working alongside Paul Sturrock who’s bizarre silver goatee any syrupy hair combo make him look like Gregor Fisher playing the villain in a Slavic soap opera.
Plymouth can take encouragement from Rovers away form as despite taking the lead in their last four games at Scunthorpe, West Brom, Sheffield United and Newcastle they remain without a league victory on the road this season. Indeed Rovers last victory away from the Keepmoat, excluding a League Cup triumph at Notts County, came at Home Park in April as Doncaster secured their Championship place with a 3-0 victory courtesy of goals from John Spicer, Paul Heffernan and James Hayter.
Steve Brooker this week claimed Squaters’ rights on the Rovers Medical Room and hopes to have it legally his by the conclusion of his injury. Also in there with him for the long haul are Brian Stock and Adam Lockwood the former of course expected to be out until the New Year. Centre half Byron Webster is also unavailable with his elbow still hyper-extended, which given the size of him means it probably stretches far enough across Cantley Park to be disrupting the traffic on Ascot Avenue.
Of the shorter term injured Sean McDaid’s recovery continues with the full-back making a twenty minute cameo in a mid week friendly, but he is still someway off a first team return. The Rovers’ official website reports that Mark Wilson is carrying a knock but the BBC make no mention of him. Instead they do claim that Simon Gillet, Martin Woods and Billy Sharp are all doubtful for the trip south.
Plymouth have selection problems of their own with captain Carl Fletcher their most notable absentee. The Welsh international is suspended after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season and is expected to be replaced in midfield by Karl Duguid. Alan Judge and Rory Fallon are expected to be passed fit to play whilst David Gray is also likely to be available after problems with a strained second album; just kidding, it was his groin.
Predicted Rovers Line-Up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Sam Hird, Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Martin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, James O’Connor, John Spicer, Mark Wilson, James Hayter, Paul Heffernan, Lewis Guy
Travelling To The Game
Chances are that if you are making this, the longest away trip of the season, you’ll probably have made your plans long before now, but for the devil may care out there here’s our advice. Those travelling by train should note that the last train pretty much anywhere north of Bristol leaves Plymouth at 17:21 so you’ll have to hot foot it from the ground which is approximately a mile and a half away. To get to Home Park from the station turn right as you leave, head downhill and under the railway and simply continue straight ahead.
Those travelling by car should take the M5 and then the A38 with the ground well signposted from the outskirts of Plymouth according to the excellent Football Ground Guide. Take the A386 and follow signs for Plymouth until the ground comes into view on your left. There is a large free car park at the ground though be advised it’s usually full by 2:30pm and the last cars in can expect to be there long after the game.
Tickets are available to buy and collect at the ground for those unable to get to the Keepmoat or not trusting the striking posties to deliver this week. Adult tickets are £24, under 18s £7 and concessions, presumably pensioners and students, £16. Away fans are housed in the Barn Park End behind the goal, so the good news is that if Rovers do fail to hit a barn shooting your way they’ll probably have scored.
Sadly financial constraints prevent Viva Rovers from heading South West and so any of our infamous Twitter coverage will be delivered solely on a second hand basis. For up to the minute fact only coverage your best bet is probably the BBC’s online live text coverage, with goal updates likely to feature on their Score Interactive service. Other than that it’s Rovers Player or bust, a hit and miss service; the hit provided by Paul Mayfield’s presence and the miss by Alan Smith’s commentary.