Rovers travel to Alfreton Town on Saturday for their first pre-season game ahead of the 2018/19 Sky Bet League One campaign.
It will be the first opportunity for Rovers supporters to get a glimpse of what is to come under the management of Grant McCann, as well as seeing what new signings Tom Anderson and Max Watters have to offer.
Brief history of Alfreton Town
Alfreton Town play at the 3,600-capacity North Street stadium, also known as the Impact Arena.
The club’s most successful season came in the 2013/14 campaign when they finished 11th in the Conference Premier. They have also managed to make the second round of the Emirates FA Cup on two occasions, in the 2008/09 and 2012/13 campaign as they defied the odds.
After four consecutive seasons in the Conference Premier, the club were relegated to the National League North at the end of the 2014/15 campaign, winning just 12 games and conceding 90 goals in the process.
It has been a continuous struggle for the club since that relegation, mainly due to the financial implications it has had. They have managed to avoid relegation in the past two seasons, narrowly avoiding a drop down to the Northern Premier League by three points in the last campaign as they finished in 17th place.
They will be looking to ensure that they are competing at the other end of the table this season.
Who’s in charge?
Former North Ferriby United and Halifax Town manager Billy Heath was appointed as the club’s new manager at the end of the 2017/18 season following the departure of Chris Moyses. He is now working alongside assistant Mark Carroll ahead of the new season.
Heath has secured two promotions in his managerial career so far, both with North Ferriby.
He helped guide them to promotion from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League in the 2012/13 season before guiding the club to the National League in the 2015/16 campaign via the National League North play-offs.
Ones to watch
The 36-year-old box-to-box midfielder has a wealth of experience having competed in the Football League with the likes of Mansfield Town, Bristol Rovers, Shrewsbury Town and Grimsby Town throughout his career.
He signed a two-year deal with the Reds last season but has only managed to make a total of 16 appearances so far.
The 21-year-old midfielder signed for the club on in the 2018/19 summer transfer window from League One side Peterborough United on a one-year deal.
He has a lot of potential having come through the youth ranks at Nottingham Forest and has since gone on to feature for Ilkeston Town, Nuneaton Town and the Posh.
He spent the second half of last season on loan at AFC Fylde, for whom he made a total of nine appearances.
The young striker joined the Reds from Bottesford Town on a one-year deal last month.
Bacon managed to find the back of the net 45 times last season in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, and has now been presented with the opportunity to test himself at a higher level.
Last time out
This will be the first ever meeting between Rovers and Alfreton, and McCann will be hoping it provides a good test for his side in their first pre-season fixture since returning from their training camp in Spain.
Want to go to the game?
Ticket prices for the game against Alfreton are as follows:
For fans wanting to attend and see Grant McCann’s team in action for the first time, directions to the stadium are shown below:
Leave M1 at J28. Take A38 towards Derby for two miles before taking the B600 slip road. At the T junction, turn right towards town centre. At the pedestrian crossing turn left into North Street and the ground is on the right-hand side.