MATCH REPORTS: Bristol Rovers vs Cardiff City (EFL CUP)

This game could be described as a typical hard working performance but in all honesty not a game for the purist or in fact a TV audience and as such my report will be shorter than usual due to the fact that so many would have seen the game on tv and my main aim is to deliver a service for those who cannot see the game. Cardiff on paper were formidable opponents even taking into account they made 6 changes and for that reason it was very disappointing to see such a sparsely filled Memorial Stadium for a game that the prize was a visit to Chelsea in the next round. It was no surprise to see the way Darrell set the team up but to be fair the plan worked out to a tee and whilst it was very poor entertainment for a TV audience it returned the required result and to be fair for all the lack of possession we did create the better scoring opportunities and there were a couple of scrambles in the Cardiff six yard box that should have produced goals. I can only recall Cardiff creating three chances in the entire 120 minutes and it was hardly surprising that paul Trollope was shouting for the entire match!!
Mildenhall – 6. One very good save and also reacted very well for the rebound off the post as if he was as slow as some make out then that shot would have hit him on the way out and ended up back in the net. One fumble at a cross just before the 90 minute mark was the only blemish on his performance.
Leadbitter – 5. For me only an average display, could not fault the effort but too often the control or the final ball was woeful. Has pace to burn but now needs to work hard to improve other aspects of his game.
J. Clarke – 9.MOM Outstanding all round display. Strong in the air and a composure in possession. This was his best game in a Rovers shirt and he was unlucky not to score a goal as well which would have been well deserved. If we do go back to 4-4-2 he will be very unlucky to lose his place and for me would just edge Leadbitter out of the starting line up if we do go more attacking against Oxford.
Lockyer – 7. Not at his best against an awkward opponent and i wonder whether having to captain the team is just too much at this stage. He still showed moments of undoubted class in what was a pretty good defensive display from the team as a whole.
Hartley – 7.5. For me this is the ideal candidate for a captain. He looks a natural leader of men and apart from a couple of lack of pace moments he played as if he has been a regular member of the team rather than a player who has had little pre season. It is good to see a centre half who lets opponents know he is there and marks closely. Better than Parkes defensively and also better in possession than McCrystal I am sure he will prove a great addition to the team.
Brown – 6 Not involved as much as usual but that was more down to an unusually low amount of ball down his side . When he had to he defended stoutly but he certainly missed a “partner” in midfield to bring him into the game and he looked far more his normal self when Montano came on and we came into the game more. 33% possession in the first half really shows what type of game it was and why as a unit the defence took most of the honours.
O. Clarke – 6. Hard working display but passing too often let him down and lacks the presence to actually want the ball. That said he did get in some good tackles and justified his selection in a team that fought for every ball in our half.
Lines. 8.5. The only midfield player who actually wants the ball and makes himself available to receive it. Some good driving runs in possession and rarely gave the ball away. Add to this an absolute screamer of a shot that rolled back the years and you have a performance which was very close to man of the Match. For me Chris was the main reason that as the game wore on the amount of possession we had increased but if we are to challenge at the right end of the League we are going to require consistency from him and a couple of quality signings to impose ourselves on the games.
Sinclair. 7 A typical Sinclair performance, full of energy and running and pressurising Cardiff from the first minute. Was even better when he pressurised further up the pitch and showed that he can play at a higher standard but whether he can keep a regular place will depend on signings made and also0 whether Darrell wants to play a three or two man midfield. He was really made for how DC set the side up last night. it wasn’t particularly good to the eye football wise but very effective.
Taylor. 7. You have to feel sorry for our forward players who have to chase four defenders around all game with little in the way of back up in the opponents half. Looked very sharp in possession and always wi8lling to look for the ball and then hold on to it. Some of his movement was sublime and he looks well up to league 1 class and will surely be scoring goals on a regular basis if we can get in a couple of quality players to enable us to show a more attacking approach.
Harrison. 7. Battled for everything and against a big uncompromising opponent he more than held his own particularly in the air. The same goes for him as Taylor in that he had to waste so much energy chasing opponents around with little chance of winning the ball and so low a percentage possession held by us in the first half.
Gaffney 4 He is struggling at the moment but is willing to chase lost causes. in all honesty other than probably tiredness on Harrisons part I could see little reason for this substitution. I very much hope that he can regain form and prove himself again.

Bodin 5 Another who will suffer if we play this type of game too often as he is not what I would call your usual DC sort of player as regards work rate but has the talent to be an asset at League 1 level. He is very much a luxury player who can turn a game on its head but because he is creative there is also an element of risk about him.
Montano 6. Thought he did well when he came on and has the skill to beat opponents and Lee brown suddenly became more prominent when Christian came on. Shame his shot was a little high when he created space for himself and there was also an excellent low cross that should have been converted. I hope Darrell can sort out a system that gives him far more game time this season as he is an exciting player who can do the business at League 1 level. 
Referee 6 Had a good game.
Crowd 6 Disappointing turn out but hardly surprising as All Ticket matches and on the TV do not go together. With the Police presence it seems so stupid that at least home supporters cannot pay on the day.
DC Hardly an entertaining selection but one set out to complete a project and did just that. Certainly the players give 100% for the manager and totally follow his plans.
So Chelsea here we come and hopefully a crowd similar to the size of the Total gate last night will follow us to Stamford Bridge for a great night of football.

For the team we move on to a very important League match on Sunday. I am sure Oxford would have been laughing to see the match last night go to extra time and also the amount of work we had to put in to get5 the result. I very much hope that Darrell will select a more attacking team on sunday and a signing or two today would go down well but not expected!!! UTG

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