This was another idea of mine, before each home fixture the media team interview the local journalist of the opposition, we get their view on the teams form and their three key players, this is more interesting than the standard biographies and gives an up-to-date view of the opposition.
Craig Draycott spoke to James McNamara from the Bristol Post who outlined his expectations for the season, while naming his choice of three players Spireties fans need to watch out for.
James’ first choice was an obvious one, the club’s top scorer for the past two seasons, Matty Taylor has been an ever-present in the side since Darrell Clarke took over: “Taylor has scored 14 goals so far this season and is the sides leading scorer once again, he has been very consistent and has scored over 60 goals in just two-and-a-bit years.”
The former England C international began his career with Oxford and went on to join Southern League South & West Division outfit North Leigh for whom he scored 80 goals in two seasons. Taylor made his debut for Rovers on the opening day of the 2014/15 season and ended the campaign as the club’s top scorer, with 21 goals in all competitions, and an appearance at Wembley in the Promotion Play Off Final. Last season, his first ever as a Football League player, he scored 28 goals, including two hat-tricks.
James’ second choice was a steady head in the middle, Chris Lines is currently in his second stint at the club: “An experienced league One campaigner, he has had a fantastic start to the season and has been one of Rovers most consistent performers in central midfield.”
Having completed his studies at Filton College, Lines joined the first team squad for pre-season training in the summer of 2005 and was signed as a non-contract player, before signing pro-terms in January 2006. Only the form shown by Craig Disley and Stuart Campbell denied him an extended run in the first team in 2006/07. The now 30-year-old departed for Sheffield Wednesday in 2011, where spells with Mk Dons and Port Vale would follow before returning to the Memorial Stadium. An accomplished midfielder, with a deceptive turn of pace, he distributes the ball well and has an eye for goal.
All three of James’ choices centred around consistency, something that has been a large factor in the sides recent success, his final pick was Tom Lockyer: “Another very consistent player and one that Darrell Clarke always picks, regardless of the fact that he is known for continually changing his first team. He is a young skipper with a lot of potential for the future.”
The Cardiff born youngster was released by his hometown club after spending time on their books as a schoolboy, and joined Rovers on a two-year scholarship in the summer of 2011. A successful first season as a professional saw him make 47 appearances in all competitions and win the Supporters Club Young Player of the Year Award. The centre-back captained the side in the season’s opener against Scunthorpe United and is an U21 international for Wales.
“Rovers have probably punched quite a bit above their weight and I don’t think anyone expected them to be where they are now. I think after promotion, the most anybody hoped for was mid-table and to avoid being involved in a relegation scrap, but the players from last season have all stepped up.
“The new signings have also added a bit of quality and depth to what was a small squad and they have quite a few options now, I don’t think anybody would complain at the start that they have had.
“They can expect Rovers to try and win the game that is for sure, they never go anywhere looking for a draw, or to sit back.
“They try and play the ball on the ground and play some nice football, while they have a few exciting players that are good to watch. Lets just say they will do better than last time they were at Chesterfield when they lost 3-1.”
Following two successive promotions Rovers fans will be quietly dreaming of a third, and James believes that while that is unlikely, the Gas have the squad depth to sustain a top-half finish.
“I think that they have got a squad thats deep enough to withstand any injuries or suspensions, although they will probably add one, or two more players in the January transfer window.
“Rovers certainly have a chance of sustaining their position and even challenging for the play-offs, but it is a very competitive league so it is hard to predict where they will end up. There are so many teams within touching distance of each, between where Rovers are and the bottom four.
“Based on the evidence of the first half of the season, I cannot see them finishing anywhere below mid-table, while they could still potentially be a contender in the play-offs.”
The Rovers journalist also had words of praise for Spireites manager Danny Wilson, and asserted his belief that the 56-year-old is the man to turn the clubs fortunes around.
“It is difficult for me to predict this game as I have only seen Chesterfield play briefly this season, but I know Danny from his time at Swindon, and I know that he is a really good manager.
“He is very tactically aware and always manages to foster a good team spirit amongst his squad. I know Chesterfield are struggling in the league, but I don’t think that they could have a better man to sort them out than him.
“I am pretty certain it will be a tough game for Rovers and it is certainly one that Clarke won’t be taking lightly.”