All of a sudden, things appear to be looking up at City. Successive away wins including last Saturday’s stunning 2-1 win at promotion-chasing (and unbeaten in the league since November) Barnsley saw Gary Caldwell’s side shoot up to 14th in the table, and going into deadline day not one but two attackers have joined. Mo Eisa, on loan from MK Dons, is a striker with a track record at this level, while Millenic Alli comes from non-league Halifax where his goals (and celebrations that were last seen at the park when Randell Williams was at City) have earned his move up two divisions. Alli is currently nursing an injury so is unlikely to feature for a couple of weeks but Eisa is likely to go straight into the matchday squad, albeit probably on the bench. Elsewhere Luke Harris became the latest to suffer this season’s loanee injury curse, withdrawing from the Barnsley trip with a minor hamstring injury that is set to keep him out for another week or two.
Given the proximity of the two fixtures between the sides this season there’s not much to report in terms of Bristol Rovers since City’s win there nine days ago (at time of writing) save for their recent poor form coming to an end last Saturday with an impressive 3-1 win over high-flying Oxford. Matt Taylor will therefore make his first return to the club he served with such honour as player, coach and manager in buoyant mood. He was boosted by the return of Chris Martin, the veteran forward having missed the defeat to City through illness. Martin opened the scoring in that win over Oxford and will be the man to watch for City’s defence on Saturday. Another to watch is likely to be Kamil Conteh – the Sierra Leonian midfielder completed a big money move from Grimsby ahead of the Oxford game. Jevani Brown and George Friend are also likely to feature – the latter returned to the side after missing around three months with injury.
Last season’s match at the Park will be remembered as Matt Taylor’s last before he departed for Rotherham and was a pulsating 2-2 draw with all the goals in the final half hour – John Marquis gave the visitors the lead, a penalty from Brown levelled things. Sam Nombe thought he had won the game for City only for former City loanee Ryan Loft to equalise at the death. City’s 1-0 win at the Memorial Stadium last Tuesday extended their league head to head lead to 28-26, but draws are still ahead with 29.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Will Finnie
Assistant Referees: Chris Wade and Christopher Husband
Fourth Official : Oliver Spender
Will Finnie refereed the 2-1 win over Reading in August.