A look at one of the six new teams in Sky Bet League Two in 2015/16.
Manager: Darrell Clarke
Last Season: Vanarama Premier, 2nd (promoted via the play-offs).
Bristol Rovers made an immediate return to the Football League – overcoming Grimsby Town on penalties in the play-off final, after finishing as runners up in the Vanarama Premier to Barnet.
The Pirates, who are managed by Darrell Clarke – a former Stags midfielder, were a force to be reckoned with in the Vanarama Premier and proved to be ruthless at both ends of the pitch.
Attacking-wise, they bagged 73 goals – 34 of which were scored by Matty Taylor (20) and Ellis Harrison (14). Meanwhile, at the back they boasted the tightest defence in the Vanarama Premier, marshalled by the experienced Mark McChrystal, and shipped just 34 goals – registering 22 clean-sheets.
They lost just five league games all season and after narrowly losing out on the title to Barnet, they overcome local rivals Forest Green Rovers in the play-off semi-finals, before beating Grimsby on spot-kicks.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
As many fans will remember, Bristol Rovers’ last game in the Football League, back in 2013/14, was against ourselves. It was Junior Daniel’s long-range strike, coupled with results elsewhere, which consigned the Pirates to relegation to non-league football for the first time in 94 years.
Rovers’ last visit to One Call Stadium, seven months prior to that occasion, finished in a 1-1 draw as a late own goal by Keiran Murtagh cancelled out Lee Stevenson’s first half opener.
Our last six meetings with Bristol Rovers are as follows:
Bristol Rovers 0-1 Stags, May 2014, Memorial Stadium
Stags 1-1 Bristol Rovers, October 2013, One Call Stadium
Stags 0-1 Bristol Rovers, April 2007, One Call Stadium
Bristol Rovers 1-0 Stags, November 2006, Memorial Stadium
Bristol Rovers 2-0 Stags, March 2006, Memorial Stadium
Stags 3-3 Bristol Rovers, December 2005, One Call Stadium
One player to have played for both ourselves and Bristol Rovers is Craig Disley, who himself would have been playing in the Football League with Grimsby Town next term, had the Pirates not been successful in the play-off final.
Disley turned out on more than 150 occasions during a five-year spell with us, before penning a move to the Memorial Stadium, where he also spent five seasons.
Others to have featured for both clubs are Chris Beardsley, Darrell Clarke, Steve Foster, Ryan Williams and Keith Curle.
The Memorial Ground has barely changed since our last visit there just over a year ago.
Visiting supporters are housed in a temporary seated stand behind the goal, as well as on a terrace which runs approximately the length of the 18-yard box.