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Barnet and Bristol Rovers - duo set for Football League return

7 August 2015

Barnet and Bristol Rovers return to Sky Bet League 2 after dominating the Conference last year - they face Leyton Orient and Northampton Town respectively in Match Round 1.

Bristol Rovers arrive in the division after a one-year absence, bouncing back at the first attempt after a heartbreaking relegation on the final day of the 2013/14 season.

And they are a club on form - the Pirates lost just seven games in the whole of the last campaign, with just one of those defeats coming after 13th December, and manager Darrell Clarke will hope that momentum carries into the opening day of the new campaign, when they host Northampton.

The Cobblers' last four visits to the Memorial Stadium have proved fruitless, and the Pirates may have an extra incentive as it was Northampton - along with Wycombe Wanderers - whose late exploits in 2014 sent them out of The Football League.

That fantastic run by Rovers last term still wasn't enough to see them topple Barnet, who lifted the Conference title on the last day courtesy of a 2-0 win over Gateshead.

The Bees, under the stewardship of experienced League manager Martin Allen, raced into a healthy lead at the top of the division and didn't let it slip despite the pressure of the chasing pack.

Season preview: We look ahead to the 2015/16 Sky Bet League 2 campaign

Barnet were relegated to non-league on the final day of the 2012/13 season - again, at the hands of the Cobblers - but they are back and equipped with a new stadium since they last graced League 2.

The Hive is now the home of the Bees, who left their Underhill ground behind following their drop out of The Football League, but the stadium won't be getting its first taste of League football in Match Round 1.

Instead, Allen will take his men to East London to lock horns with recently-relegated Leyton Orient, where they will meet a familiar face.

Ian Hendon, the new manager of the O's, was in charge of Barnet for two years before being dismissed in 2010, and that adds an extra edge to the fixture.

The two teams may have been two divisions apart last term, but nothing separates the pair now and the Bees will fancy themselves to get off to a good start in one of two London derbies in The Football League this weekend.

See how the returning duo fare this weekend by following our Sky Bet League 2 Twitter feed – @SkyBetLeague2.

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