League Two preview: Prepare for Bristol Rovers Gas explosion

Betting advice from Michael Holden of Best of the Bets

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The Independent Football

John Ward is back in the game with Bristol Rovers and we reckon the League One managerial stalwart can make an instant impact at League Two level by guiding the Gas to success against high-flying Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The Pirates were left shipwrecked at York last weekend, conceding four times in a shocking first-half performance and it was no surprise to see Mark McGhee sacked promptly enough for the news to hit the earliest editions of the Sunday papers.

Now Ward finds himself in the same boat as the one that McGhee boarded 11 months ago when he picked up the pieces left behind by Paul Buckle. As the experienced Scot found out to his cost, winning the players over was easy enough but keeping them onside for long enough to meet raised expectations was an altogether more difficult task.

Rovers won their first three matches following McGhee's appointment and they would complete the season unbeaten in ten at home, a sequence that culminated with 7-1 and 5-1 wins over Burton and Accrington respectively, no doubt shifting a few season tickets in the process.

So it's clear the Pirates can hit high standards when the mood takes them and tasty odds of 11/4 are big enough for us to take a chance on them shaking off their troubles in miraculous fashion against the Millers.

Rotherham make the journey down to the west country on the back of an excellent win at Notts County in midweek but, knowing Steve Evans and his love affair with the FA Cup, we suspect they raised their game significantly for the trip to Meadow Lane, which makes them vulnerable to a dip in standards here.

Truth be told, we respect the Millers as genuine automatic promotion candidates but we don't rate them much as a travelling entity, even though they now boast a four-match winning sequence on the road. Prior to that, they had only triumphed once in 11 attempts going back to Evans' appointment last April.

Meanwhile, we've made our reservations about Gillingham abundantly clear over the past couple of weeks in our half-term report and our feature on the diminishing returns of Martin Allen's managerial methods, so it should come as little surprise that we're opposing them for the trip to York.

You can get odds of 23/10 about the Minstermen prevailing at Bootham Crescent and that's decent value based on the respective efforts of the two sides since the turn of the month.

Gary Mills' men were torturing themselves with needless soul-searching at the end of November before landing us a few quid for our faith with victory at Rochdale on December 1. Now that four-goal haul against Bristol Rovers last weekend might work wonders in curing them of the home sickness that has blighted their return to the Football League.

The Gills, by contrast, have come up short against Exeter, Accrington and Fleetwood in their last four league outings and haven't managed a clean sheet in seven, so it promises to be a much tighter encounter than the market suggests. In half-a-dozen games against the rest of the top seven, York haven't been beaten - all six of them ending all-square.

Betting advice...

1pt Bristol Rovers to beat Rotherham at 11/4 (general)

Millers played a cup tie in midweek and new manager can make an impact for Rovers.

1pt York to beat Gillingham at 23/10 (Bet365, Bet Victor)

Leaders are losing momentum and York have been a match for the rest of the top seven.

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