PREVIEW: Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers
Skipper Tom Parkes says Bristol Rovers are fast-becoming a side that fears nobody ahead of a two-week spell in which they face four promotion-chasing sides.
Rovers make a trip to Sixfields tonight to face Northampton Town in the first of those fixtures at the start of a run that also includes games against Burton Albion, Exeter City and Port Vale.
“The next few games we are playing against teams in the top six or seven, but every game is tough in this league,” said Parkes. “It doesn’t bother us, we’re not scared going into these challenges at the moment.
“We want other teams to be scared of us because of the way we are performing right now. We are on a high after some good results and we are confident that we can keep it going.
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“People were understandably questioning our team spirit a few months ago, but the relationships and partnerships throughout the team are amazing at the minute.
“It was difficult at times earlier in the season. I hate losing at anything so it was not nice going back to the changing room after losing every game.
“We were at a low ebb and it was like we were trying to dig ourselves out of a hole every week. Everybody is really happy inside the camp now and that is purely down to winning games. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Parkes faces a challenge at Sixfields where he will come face-to-face with one of League Two’s most prolific marksmen in the shape of 17-goal Adebayo Akinfenwa.
“I’ve played against him a couple of times,” said Parkes when recalling the 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture at the Memorial Stadium earlier in the season. “He is very strong and you can’t get too tight to him. You’ve got to be a bit clever and just try not to give him chances to get shots off.
“I’m expecting quite a physical test and one where we will probably have to defend a lot of crosses into our own penalty area.
“They will also probably be right up for it because they may feel they owe us one after we beat them at our place earlier in the season.
“We go there in good spirits after getting a decent point at Morecambe on Saturday. It was important for us to show that we could bounce back after losing to Rotherham a few days earlier.
“Conceding an early goal is the last thing you want to do away from home because it really throws your game plan out of the window before you get started, but we kept a strong shape and got what we deserved.”
Parkes, meanwhile, was rewarded for his improved form of late by picking up the League Two player of the month award for January and he said: “I feel like I’m coming back to my best.
“It was a great achievement for me, even though I couldn’t quite believe I’d won it. I’m still young and I just have to keep working hard to improve as a player and see how far I can go from there.”