The dream is a distinct possibility
Before the game yesterday I was thinking is this period at the moment actually better than 2007? I think the answer is Yes. Our club have rich owners like never before but the full effect of this has not yet been felt and by this I mean that the financial aspect of the takeover has not really yet had an effect on the playing squad so what Darrell Clarke has achieved so far in pretty well guaranteeing a Play Off spot with four games still to go actually exceeds the exploits of 2007 where we sneaked into the Play Offs at the last and yet however dramatic that was the feeling that we have achieved this with a squad that was mainly here last season and most had little experience of playing League Football IMO makes this the greater achievement. I would go as far as to say that the feeling I have at the moment is that I am lucky enough to be here reporting on these games feeling deep inside the greatest pride ever to be a Gashead. In all the 50 years of following the Gas I have always felt that I was following tin pot Bristol Rovers, a club full of tradition as a Family club but one whose chances of doing anything in the Football World was built on sheer determination and trying to achieve against all the odds and against everything that anyone else could throw at us. As I walked in the ground yesterday something has changed and it is not the faces themselves as I recognised most of the people around me but the actual feeling among those fans is different,there were smiles on everyones faces and the whole place reflects a team that have exceeded all expectations this season and a club that has been rejuvenated from the top and right down to the supporters. I would go as far as to so that since the 1950s there is no better time than now to be a Gashead and whether or not we actually achieve Promotion; be that through the Play Offs or Automatics; we are a team on the up, run professionally and if we don’t do it this season then we can actually approach next season with a new found belief.
So it was that we approached our 12th home game with an incredible 10 wins and a draw in the last 11 with confidence and yet with trepidation that this was the very sort of game where records come to an end and certainly a potential banana skin in the form of a team who have achieved recently themselves what seemed impossible months ago and that is another season in League Football.Only two defeats in the last 11 games where they have drawn against both Plymouth and Portsmouth and beaten Accrington meant that we were playing against a team who were far better than the team we beat 1-0 earlier in the season and based on recent results even better than the position they currently hold.
The team selection was not far off what I expected with Montano coming in for Lawrence in a more attacking line up with Danny Leadbitter retaining his place at right back and so I look at the performance through the individual performances yesterday.
Mildenhall 8 MOM
Probably should have done better on their goal but more than made up for this with a couple of wonderful point winning saves and commanded his area the best he has done for many a game as he was coming for and collecting crosses both unchallenged and under great pressure. His performances since his return have been one of the reasons we are where we are and IMO if he keeps this standard up he should definitely be offered another years contract.
Danny is now showing the defensive stability which his performances earlier in the season were not. Always a good attacking full back he is now doing his main duty (defending) very well and still contributing on the offensive. If only his crossing can become more consistent we will have a very good full back whose pace particularly gives him the advantage over James Clarke. He was very rarely beaten yesterday and some I am sure would have made him Man of the Match.
Lockyer 7 Another fine performance from Tom. His reading of the game is phenominal for one so young and his confidence is continuing to grow. Fantastic that he has signed a new contract (Mr Taylor now follow his example ) because even if we fail to hold onto him if he does leave it will be at our terms. I am sure if he had played at Carlisle we would now be three points better off because we certainly missed his talent that day. His passing,which i have always felt would hold him back has improved considerably and he now looks a fine player who can without doubt play at a higher level-hopefully League One with us next season if the Gods be with us for the rest of this season!
Not sure if he was at fault for the goal but everyone makes mistakes but generally this was Mac at his best winning the majority of aerial challenges and then getting rid of the ball safely. Marshalled the defence well and led by example.
Whilst some said that he was not helped by Monty I actually think it was the other way around as far too often Browner held the ball too long rather than pass to Montano early which meant he often received the ball under pressure. Generally defended OK and put in a couple of decent crosses. It is great news that he has signed a new contract.
Thought he was very good at times and wasteful at others which could be said about many of the players yesterday. Gives us that unpredictability in our play and is always likely to bring us a goal. His skill on the ball and ability to get into the box makes it well worth him playing and he was twice unlucky in the first half not to score. He did fade a bit in the second half but the fact he is so unpredictable means the defenders have to be wary and always mark him.
I have given him a reasonable score not so much because of his passing which was at times poor but because he didn’t go missing and feel sorry for himself but kept going and tried to drive us forward. Quite often he broke up play and went on a few driving runs. He’s not at his very best but still well worth his place and surely we will see a goal from him soon. I have the feeling like last season he will score a very important goal.
Clarke 6.5 Still not sure about him alongside Lines as he does seem to me for long periods to just not be involved but did manage to put in a couple of crunching tackles and there was one vital tackle in the second half which prevented Yeovil creating a good opening. Really for me he needs to show more during the game and want the ball. His passing like others was very wasteful at times and for home games at the moment I would consider starting Easter alongside Lines as he looks fitter than Lawrence and certainly has the ability to play there.
Not his day but i would still start him on Tuesday to show some faith in him because he has been left out after playing well and could be a boost to him to retain his place after a game where not much went for him. Couple of good crosses and certainly tried hard. For me he has that shooting ability and pace that means he has to be watched and yesterday he was marked often by two players but that was also down to the fact that Lee Brown has the tendancy to hold on to the ball too long and not bring him into play enough.
Not his best performance by a long shot but still managed to do what he does best and that is score a goal. Eight in 8 games is a great return and he could well have had another couple yesterday had he been on top form. Still managed to produce a few moments of great skill and vision and even when not at his best defenders know what he can do and so have to keep a close eye on him and that can create space for others.
This was more like it from Gaffney . Gave everything and didn’t hide. Finally got another goal and unlucky on a couple of occasions not to add to that. His burst of pace that took him clean through in the second half was electrifying but in all honesty he should really have scored with the chip over the keeper. He certainly is a defenders nightmare because of his physical strength and quick footwork and his willingness to work hard and fight for every ball. I would say that DC’s ability in selecting players when others possibly wouldn’t is a great skill and Gaffers repaid the boss with an all action display.
Can consider himself unlucky not to start after his performance in the later stages of the last game and his point saving goal. Gave another good performance in the short time he was on and certainly whislt he is around ,like McBurnie, it will keep the other strikers on their toes.
To me he looks much fitter now than earlier in the season and I would really like to see him start in the midfield because he has that certain class about him. Some may say that he lacks the defensive qualities to play alongside Lines but I feel that his creativity and clever play would more than make up for this.
McBurnie Not long enough to mark
Did very well and tried to keep the game moving. Maybe a bit lenient at times but a good performance.
Great to be over the 10,000 mark and got behind the team although quiet at times which i think was really down to the tight position we find ourselves in and the nerves that are on edge but in all honesty who would swop this position for no nerves and just playing out the season like Yeovil or City!
Yeovil 6.5 Much better than the awful side we played earlier in the season that had all the markings of a team that were doomed to relegation. Passed the ball well and set up to contain and did that well. Played their part in a very exciting and nerve racking game. The better side deservedly won but Yeovil can consider themselves unlucky not to hold on for a point.
DC Another match won and a match where I felt he selected both the right team and set out with the right intentions from the start. A brave Manager who surely will go on to great things and I very much hope that it is with us. Could have made the substitutions earlier as Easter certainly contributed well in his time on the pitch but who could honestly criticise anything that this man does for what he has done for our club.
With the other results going our way who can predict what this season holds and put it another way who would have predicted when we lost to Stevenage in another home disaster earlier in the Season that we would win 11 and take 34 points out of the next 36 available points at home – absolutely amazing.
So we move on to Tuesday back with Promotion in our own hands and a very winnable but a very difficult game. There is a certain pressure with being in control of your own destiny and keeping it that way but when you think about it we are just four wins away from promotion and certainly have the squad to achieve it as how many other clubs could have Easter, Lawrence, Parkes,McBurnie and Harrison on the bench! That said each game comes with its own pressure and the secret is to take each game as it comes and after the result look at the other teams because who would have thought that both Oxford and Accrington would fail to win what looked like two easier games and that Plymouth would put themselves back in the race by winning at Portsmouth.
Stevenage on Tuesday will be intent on getting a result to make themselves mathematically safe and its not an easy place to go and yet we know if the team plays to its capability then we can return home with three points. There should be a healthy following up there so lets get behind them. The dream is a distinct possiblity. UTG