Mildenhall the only one who really turned up

Hi fellow Gasheads,

Just as way of an introduction I am SteveK192 from the Gas Chat and Gas Guzzler forums where I contribute mainly a match report for every game and I have been asked by Harley if I will do this for GasCast so have said I will give it a go.

I will first state that what I am writing is my Personal opinion of the game so not everybody will like what I write which; in my opinion; is what football is all about. I will immediately say that IMO DC is the best Manager we have had since Gerry Francis but that does not mean that I agree entirely with his philosophy or how we play and this obviously affects my opinions on each individual match and performance so although I may be critical of both him and the players that does not mean when I am critical that I want him or individual players out. IMO this is the best squad of players as regards giving everything for the club we have had for many a year and it is this that sees an increase in the support to a level that is so commendable for the level of football we are playing and the bad times we have experienced in the last 20 years. Yes there have been good times but that has been far outweighed by the bad.
So that’s the introduction and here is my report from the Portsmouth game which I am afraid was a bit of a horror show and not the ideal place to start this blog!!
Roll on Saturday!!

It has been very rare when following Rovers this season; in fact I don’t recall it happening until yesterday; to follow a poor performance with another shocker but this is exactly what happened at Fratton Park yesterday. You can make all the excuses under the sun including the much over used “We are exceeding expectations” but that can be no excuse for the last two games. Yes you can say that excuse in the light of the actual results but it is the manner of the defeats that really worry me as in both games we failed to really get on top in any spell and pretty well looked second best all the way through. For the Manager to come out and say at least 6 players were poor and not adding that he himself had made mistakes is ridiculous. I admire DC for his honesty compared to say Steve Cotterell who always talked as if his team played well enough to be top of the league but were ,in fact,bottom but sometimes I would like to hear him admitting that he himself got things wrong. It is right to take the praise when things go well but there are times when it is refreshing to hear a Manager say that he got it wrong. There haven’t been many times that he has got his tinkering wrong and for this he deserves great praise but yesterday and in less ways Accrington I believe he has got wrong both his selection and the way the team has been set up and has come off second best against the two opposing Managers. It can be said that Portsmouth were very good yesterday but IMO the truth is in the Portsmouth song “Can we play you every week” because according to match reports Pompey have not been particularly good at home most weeks and I do wonder if it was more a case of us making them look a far better team than they actually are!

Mildenhall 9
MOM It is ironic that a player who has been “thrown to the lions” by his Manager for the majority of this season should be head and shoulders above the rest of the players. For me he was the only player who can look back on yesterdays performance with any pride. He very much set the pattern with an astounding save in the opening moments when the header had goal written all over it and kept up that level of performance all game when all about him were floundering and looking far bellow their best. I can recall four or five good stops at least which saved us from what would have been a right hammering and he had no chance with any of the goals which were all down to rank poor defending.

Leadbitter 5
Tried hard throughout both in defence and attacking play but guilty of giving the ball straight to the opposition on far too many occasions. At least he has the pace to get back and be close to his player but he had no assistance throughout from a very subdued Billy Bodin. Is he better defensively than James Clark (was he injured?) I am not sure but I have a feeling that James Clark would probably have struggled more with the pacey Pompey attack and taking into account how poor the Centre halves played.

Lockyer 4
His worst performance of the season without a doubt as he struggled with both his marking of opponents and in his distribution which to be honest was absolutely dreadful. Far too often the ball ended up off the pitch or more importantly straight to an opposing player and I felt yesterday him and Parkes were having a competition to see who could outdo the other by passing cluelessly
. I think Lockyer edged it yesterday!

Parkes 4
A very poor game where he allowed himself to be run ragged by an average centre forward and he really did come out second best but was not helped by Lee Brown disappearing far too often and the gaps on the left side of our defence were often there to see. I really do feel that despite our defence being overall our strong point this season that we lack the ruthless nasty ruggedness of the better central defenders in this division.
Tom has been outstanding after a shakey start to the season but yesterday he and Lockyer lacked the ability to organise themselves to the basics – good marking and tough tackling and organising from the back. IMO they weren’t helped by a missing midfield but did nothing themselves by allowing their opponents to drag them all over the place and to end up marking nobody tightly which meant their players were able to bring the ball down and play in their midfielders both in the middle and out wide. I would blame Parkes for the second goal which as it occurred right on half time effectively lost us the game- he should be winning balls like that in the area.

Brown 5
All of Lee’s pointsare for his attacking play as defensively he was very poor although he was not helped by the lack of organisation in front of him. In a 4-4-2 it is vital that your full back concentrates on the defensive responsibility as the priority and the attacking aspects come about when the first task is accomplished. Lee disappeared far too often leaving Parkes very exposed and far too many crosses came in from his winger. The Brown/Parkes partnership has been so important particularly at home where they play each other out of trouble but in the last two games Parkes has had a player to man mark and that has created a lot of space both behind him and in the left channel where Brown has been needed to cover him rather than be caught half way up the pitch. Yesterday it caused Easter to have to try to help out and left us almost looking like a John Ward team with just Gaffney up front with little help.

Lawrence 3
A non existant first half ,he seemed to improve for a spell in the second half but in truth his legs have gone and he needed to be playing with Mansell and Sinclair at their peak to do his running but what actually happened was that Mansell and Sinclair were both below their best and our midfield as a unit was exposed time and time again and mixed with a back four that played far too deep this really was a recipe for disaster. Lawrence has been a fine player over the years but after his last performance against Accrington I really expected him to be on the bench and Lines given a chance. I very much hope that this is not the best we are going to see from Lawrence but have to say that I am not overly impressed by our January transfer dealings but hope to be proved wrong and that DC has in fact got it right.

Mansell 4
I was torn between a mark of 3 or 4 for Manse as this was his poorest game of the season where he was second best to quick Pompey players and he never really got going and it was no surprise when he was substituted as he neither protected his defence or won enough tackles to get us going. The truth is that any of about 7 or 8 players could have been substituted before half time but definitely at half time. I really don’t know what game DC was watching yesterday as how Lawrence stayed on the pitch as long as he did is beyond me and I would have replaced him with Lines as early as 35 minutes. Perhaps Mansells legs are starting to feel the wear and perhaps he needs resting for a couple of games. The problem is that Ollie Clarke is not good enough to play his role and anybody else in there could see us having the look of going gung ho .

Sinclair 4.5
Never gave up and as expected ran his socks off but in truth there was nothing else and we looked totally disorganised in the middle of the park. There are times when hard work is not enough and you need someone to put their foot on the ball and make things happen. Unfortunately yesterday it was only Portsmouth players who did this and as is often the case a game is won or lost in the middle of the park. Sinclair was the best of a poor bunch in midfield yesterday but they were not helped by our defenders who more often than not passed the ball straight to opponents players. Sinclair tried his best but the problem is that an all action display can be made to look stupid when everyone around you is well below par and you end up chasing players around but rarely winning the ball.

Bodin 3
Very ineffective and full of tricks that didn’t come off. IMO he does not possess the pace to make him a real danger on the wing and far too often he is lost to the game. I can write little about his performance yesterday as there was little to actually comment on.

Easter 4
Where was he playing? I thought that we were going to play a straight 4-4-2 similar to Accrington but this was a strange formation that looked like a John Ward team with just Gaffney up front fighting a lone battle which he was never going to win. Easter ended up playing a sort of midfielder role trying to cover the gap in front of Lee Brown with Lawrence disappearing into Central Midfield. He had a couple of opportunities to get a shot away but got closed down and with a totally ineffective midfield did not really get going at all and looked a frustrated character.

Gaffney 4
Should have scored when he controlled a ball brilliantly with his chest but instead fired against the crossbar and also IMO should have done better with a headed opportunity in the second half. Too much came off him yesterday as he struggled against two strong central defenders and he really looks like he needs a goal to get himself going again. I was surprised that Rory Fallon wasn’t given an opportunity at the start of the second half.

Subs:

Taylor 4
Did Ok. Nothing really good and nothing bad but the game was well lost before he arrived and in truth to make a difference yesterday would have required about 7 substitutes. the decision not to select him in the starting line up was understandable based on his recent performances but in truth Easter looks even less likely to score!

Lines 4
At least when he came on he tried to hold the ball and run at Pompey but he appeared far too late to influence anything.

Montano 4
At least he had a couple of shots which was more than many others however poor the shots were. The game was over when he came on as a contest so for all the subs it was mission impossible.

Crowd 8
What can you say as a negative against nearly 3,000 travelling support. Some teams would love that for a home game but it was sad that such a fantastic following was rewarded with such a poor performance from the team.

Ref 3
Mr Kettle has a bad reputation as a poor referee and he lived up to it by missing much that went on. The only positive that can be said is that he made no game changing decisions. The quicker he retires and we don’t have to put up with his general refereeing the better.
Portsmouth 8 A side with very good players possessing something we lacked so badly yesterday- a bit of pace all over the pitch and a definite game plan that worked. On yesterdays performance they should be in the top 3 but the fact that they aren’t at the moment leads me to think that we made them look much better than they actually are.

DC
A bad day at the office for him and the team. I understand he said that the players didn’t play to the game plan which IMO is even worse than just saying he made a mistake and got the game plan wrong!!For once I was very surprised that he didn’t play with wingbacks but wonder if that was due to James Clarke being unfit (was he?) but surely he could have played McCrystal. His selection of Liam Lawrence after his last performance and the fact he left him on the field so long,his failure to make substitutions earlier all add up to him being to blame for events just as much as the players.

I very much hope that this was just another blip and that next Saturday we can regain a bit of pride. I worry that our January recruits do not possess the necessary qualities to actually improve the team as I was expecting an injection of pace with the new recruits but they probably lack that quality in abundance!! The last two results have proved to me that we are not good enough to get automatic promotion as our results against the better teams backs this up and the question now is are we good enough to pick ourselves up from two below par performances and get to winning ways against in what is definitely an easier run of games between now and the end of the season.

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