Sunday, 25 March 2012

1-0 (H) Southend - Disciplined Display

A disciplined defensive performance saw Rovers gain a slim 1-0 victory over promotion chasing Southend United.

So much changes in the space of one month. When I last saw the Gas I was stripped in a scarf and two warm fleeces. Today I, among many others, took the luxury of shorts and a Rovers shirt. On the field matters have changed too, with Rovers comfortably safe from the drop, the thought of a top ten finish all too realistic now, we can hopefully start enjoying our football.
     Both teams started brightly, having spells of possession but few chances. The first came inside 12 minutes when a missed defensive header left Zebroski one on one, with Harrold and Lund in the middle; Zebroski decided to selfishly go alone hitting a poor effort yards past the post. As the game pogressed Rovers came more into their own, controlling large spells of first half possession but failing to make the most of it. Zebroski's 21st minute skillful run caused all sorts of problems in the Southend backline, before squaring it to Matt Harrold who hit a tame effort into the body of the keeper.
     Half time came, as so often happens the second half opened up; with Southend starting to create dangerous chances. 16 minutes into the second half, a long ball up to Freddy Eastwood was held up effectively, allowing Michael Timlin to hit a rasping effort narrowly over the bar. The chance was followed up by another, a far post cross enabled Eastwood to release a strong header which was well saved at point bank range by Scott Bevan. Mustapha Carayol struggled to get into his game, not helped by the constant double marking upon recieving the ball, but found room 5 minutes from time to release a shot inside the penalty whilst being brought down by Southend's Michael Timlin. The result... a Rovers' penalty. Up stepped Matt Harrold, who dispatched the penalty with power and confidence, his 14th goal of the season. 1-0 Rovers.
     With just minutes remaining, Rovers dangerously sat back and invited pressure on to them. A late surge from Southend United left Rovers' supporters with their hearts in the mouths especially when a strong 93rd minute penalty appeal was turned down and instead given as an edge of the area freekick, but with little success; the shot was blasted straight at the Pirates' wall. Rovers held tight and managed their 6th win in 12 games as well as their 6th clean sheet since the permanent appointment of Mark McGhee.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

2-2 Torquay (A) So close, yet so far...

Saturday afternoon, Rovers away, Gasplayer on.

You see, I always find it harder listening online; just waiting for the commentator’s voice to rise in tempo, shout and put a rovers players’ name upon the goal. 

As the commentators voice grew louder and quicker I looked up, catching Rene Howe’s name in the process, and as I bowed my head in frustration my dad started cheering downstairs, I rose to hear Matty Harrold’s name placed on the goal, his 12th of the season; the goal machine had claimed another!
What an improvement from the first half at Northampton.
And as the game progressed it seemed as if we were holding our own; against a Torquay team who’ve been up there all year.
When Chris Zebroski bursted through the Torquay backline there was only one ending. Against any other team you’d expect him to blast it high and wide but not against his old club.
The finish was sweet. Undoubtedly the best way to answer your critics and to silence the boo’s from the home crowd. Unbelievable . We were 2-0 up against a Torquay team who had recently been on an 8 match winning run.
But no sooner had I finished celebrating the goal, had Torquay gone down the other end and got a instant reply. Why Rovers? Why oh why? Can’t I just relax for the last 20minutes.
Having not worried us all game we now found ourselves on the back of a potential 2-0 deficit overturn. The attacks were relentless, each one causing my heart rate to spiral, Bevan guarding his goal well, oohs and ahhs reverberating around the ground.
Who else but Rene Howe to equalise… The man who looked like he struggled to run 90 minutes for us last season. How did he manage to score? Robbed. We’d let a 2 goal lead slip in the last minute of time.
The full time whistle went. Had it not been for a 2 goal lead, I’d be delighted with a 2-2 draw away to Torquay. I guess it wasn’t to be, despite playing well all match we couldn’t quite hold on for all 3 points.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

0-0 Macclesfield - Disappointing day at the office

WITH the luxury of a pre-match coporate meal on offer the matchday started well for me. Despite the records stating that Rovers were yet to beat Macclesfield at home the gasheads were positive, especially after our recent upturn in fortune. The pitch's quality continued to worsen, with every game passing its looking more and more like a beach, and the gusty Bristol winds helped ensure a tough game against a physical Macclesfield side.
     Rovers started well, looking confident in possession but struggled repeatedly to break down two back lines of the Silkman's defence. The first chance came when Macclesfield's Ben Futcher found himself obstructing the ball in the penalty area allowing Lee Brown the chance of a shot, but could only manage to hit the oncoming defenders.
     As the game progressed it was clear what Macclesfield's game plan was, to contain and fustrate our forwards and attempt to break quickly on the counter. This was evident with the treatment of Matty Harrold who was constantly (as always) being pulled and pushed by the opposing defender, so much so that I started to wonder if he had something to tell us! Macclesfield bore little threat going forward, their closest chances coming off the back of repeated long throws into the Rovers' box, but to little avail.
     The second half started how the first half ended, with Rovers pulling the strings and dominating possession but struggling to penetrate through the Macclesfield backline. Mathew Lund saw his dipping volley narrowly pass the crossbar after the ball was poorly cleared by the Macclesfield defence from a Rovers corner. Even though Rovers were the dominant force it was one of those games where you could see Macclesfield unfairly taking all 3 points from the mem, and it was almost the case when George Donnelly dispossed Rovers' Cian Bolger only to narrowly rifle past the post.
    Rovers, clearly unhappy to let the game peter out, decided to change things up with a double substitution, Stanley and Zebroski entering the fray. Craig Stanley instantly had the chance to break the deadlock by slipping a ball through to Mustapha Carayol who made space for himself firing a hard shot straight into the body of goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell. Macclesfield were thoroughly irritating at times, wasting as much of the game as they could after every foul or dead ball situation, so much so that keeper O'Donnell recieved a deserved yellow card for time wasting.
    Despite the utter dominance of Rovers the Silkman came away with a well fought for point. We lacked the cutting edge to break through a stiff backline but can be pleased with our overall performance. It was a credit to Rovers and our recent form that Macclesfield tried in every way to waste the remaining minutes of the game.