Moving up the table with another win

It was fantastic yesterday to enter a home game with a win behind us which in effect eases a bit of the pressure that builds up for a home match where you have drawn or lost your last game. I always work on the basis of 4 points out of six is a good return whether you are talking home or away so to my way of thinking a draw yesterday would not have been a bad result. Port Vale came to us in fifth place so it was another tough game for Darrell’s boys but looking at Port Vales record you would see that “There’s no where quite like home” as they were up in fifth due mainly to a 100% home record having beaten Gillingham, Scunthorpe, Rochdale and Southend but looking at their away record of 2 draws and 2 defeats including a 4-1 loss at Bury I was feeling confident that we could give them a good game and no reason why we shouldn’t win.

When the team sheet came out it showed three changes on Tuesday but I was a bit worried where the goals would come from with Matty Taylor missing from the squad. Hartley returning for James Clarke was predictable but I would like to see DC keep the same defence for a run of games now as IMO it does not help a defence and goalkeeper to keep changing. Easter deserved a start and duly did and proved his worth and his class with probably his best performance for us and Bodin was left out which again for me was the right move as he has done nothing to really warrant a place this season . To be honest I am not convinced with playing both Ollie Clarke and Sinclair when we have other far more creative players but Dc does know what he is doing and has proved this time and time again.

The game went very much like many of the games this season with a first half where we missed good chances but fell behind and didn’t look particularly good and a second half where we played much better and then a last five minutes where there was a bit of nail biting due to not having killed the opponents off. It is a bit disappointing to see this running to the corner flag late in the game being taken to the extreme and Ellis is very bad for this as both yesterday and at Swindon he had a very good chance to kill the game off but lost it. Its ok in the last minute but when there is still 5 minutes to go it is stupid and Darrens reaction from the dugout seemed to indicate that he didn’t agree with it either!

Roos 7 MOM Magnificent all round display. Commanded his area again with his presence and confidence and for me he really looks the part now and his handling with a shot in the first half was excellent.

Leadbitter 7 Another strong performance from Danny. His touch does look awkward at times but compared to how often his pace gets us out of trouble he is well worth his position. It is strange that when Connor Roberts signed we were thinking he would be a certain starter but all he has really done is spurred our two full backs on to regain their form.

Lockyer 6.5 Didn’t do much wrong although there is still something missing from last season or maybe it is just we are playing against better teams . As a defending team we are struggling a bit from the off but maybe that is as much down to the midfield as the defence.

Hartley 7 Strong game from Peter and he does give us that extra bit in the opposition penalty area as well. For me he must be on the team sheet every game and give him a chance to build an understanding. Be very interesting what happens when Jake Salter appears. I very much hope that DC is not looking to regularly play three at the back because IMO we look much better with a back four.

Brown 7 Had a very good game defensively and did his best to support the attack whenever he could but his free kicks have not reached the accuracy of last season yet and that is the one time I cry out for Liam Lawrence!!

Lines 7.5 Another very strong performance although I am not convinced with the Lines/Clarke/Sinclair combination as just not creative enough. His long runs with the ball are now becoming far more regular and IMO he is now looking a classy League 1 midfielder and his ability to take the ball further is meaning we can get out quicker from the back and not playing so deep. I feel now DC needs to get a bit more width in the side to increase the options going forwards.

O Clarke 5 It seems stupid to say but after a very good game which he had at Swindon I would not start him because it is very often the case that he follows a good performance with a poor one and this was no exception. I think when Ollie and Sinclair play there appears to be a lot of gaps and Lines seems to end up playing the deepest although he is obviously our best option going forwards. Yesterday Ollie made a couple of good moves and one great shot but for far too long was not in the game.

Sinclair 6 Another booking which I think brings him to 5 and a suspension on Tuesday which when one door closes another opens and perhaps it will mean a start for Colkett or even a re emergence of Boetang. Again yesterday I felt that he showed a reluctance to pass the ball forward and in my opinion there is little use in passing then ball back on a regular basis to players whose distribution is not there strong point. He is a bloody nuisance though to opponents and I imagine by the end of a game they are fed up at the sight of him niggling away.

Easter 9 MOM Should have scored early on but blasted the ball over the bar from a good position but this was Jermaine’s best game in a Rovers shirt as he constantly got on the ball and got us moving. For me he would always be one of the first names on the team sheet. Good penalty to seal the victory. IMO he is absolute class on the ball and could play a midfield role with no problem whatsoever as he has instant control,can pick a pass but also is no slouch now fully fit. He is also pretty strong physically and lets players know he is around.

Gaffney 7 For me without scoring he is leading the attack well. Showed good body strength and no shortage of pace yesterday, retaining the ball well and bringing others into the game but what wonders a goal would do for him. At least now he looks a player who can play at this standard which earlier in the season I had the feeling he was just not good enough.

Harrison 8 His best performance this season based on the second half and the great header he scored in the first half. The goal probably made his game yesterday because I think had he not scored when he did he could well have been substituted at half time or just after. Wish he would think a bit more when he runs to the corner flag. That is two games running he has done that when he has had a good chance of running through on goal.

Subs

James 5 Not really sure about him. Seemed to have the stuffing knocked out of him by a poor challenge but IMO not a winger and maybe I was a bit surprised that with Taylor out he was not given a chance up front. There is something about him and I do hope we get a chance to see exactly what it is.

Moore 7.5 Like Easter at Swindon he came on and made a big impression with his pace and his intelligence (Perhaps that is a poor word to use having heard Chris Lines on the radio say when the word intelligence came up that it could only have been Mildenhall or Puddy!!!and also DC’s comment over if a drone had hit any of his players on the head!! Won the penalty and very unlucky with a brilliant chip that deserved to go in. Surely he must start soon and if he does I would like to see Montano on the bench so as Moore can run himself out in the first half and Monty can come on as he tires.

Bodin 5 Should have done better with one chance but for me he needs a rest and bring Monty back in to the squad. He seems to be short on confidence and certainly not anywhere near the player he was last season however you know that opponents cannot afford to leave him unmarked anywhere around the area but is he too much of a luxury? Would be interesting one game to see Monty on one wing and Moore on the other.

Ref 7 Best game I have seen Mr Kettle have. tried to keep the game going and definitely the best performance from a man in the middle for a while.

Port Vale 6 It’s very early days and based on yesterday I would say that they are in a false position and just an average mid table team. That said they did play some good football at times and look dangerous but there again when you go 1-0 down there is always a chance that you are going to go 2 down and then its pretty well game over on most occasions.

Crowd 7 Pleasing to see that we got just over 9000 and the target now must be to get up to the 10,000 mark for the next home game although I think the only way we will do that is if we manage 4 points from the next two difficult away games as poor results have a pretty big affect on the gate. As they say it is far easier to lose fans than it is to get them back.

DC Well we got three points again so DC must have got it right though I am not convinced with the lack of wide men but IMO this is more important in home games. When you look at the squad we have and the players that don’t even get in the squad let alone the team you have to admire the way Darrell has built his team and I honestly can’t remember the last time we had such a strong squad. I’m not one for the tinkering after winning but when I think back to the boring John Ward, the pretty clueless McGhee and most of the other Managers we have had since 2000 we really are in good hands and the way we are building the back room staff up as well we are certainly heading in the right direction. There is the camp who think that the use of three substitutes regularly means he gets it wrong to start with especially as we have regularly been chasing a 1-0 deficit but IMO at least he is willing to make brave decisions and stand and be counted and there is obviously a great team spirit to constantly get back in games. It is this team spirit which IMO is really down to the Manager. With 27 players and Jake Salter still to come it is not an easy position to find yourself in. Certainly it presents less chance of anybody selecting the same team as DC which was difficult before we had so many players and definitely more points to debate.

So with another 3 points under our belt and up to 9th in the table we go into a very difficult away game against one of the highly fancied sides. Chris Wilder’s team struggled at the start but are now picking up pace and picked up a useful away point at Scunthorpe yesterday and this being on top of four consecutive wins that has seen them beat Peterborough, Wimbledon, Gillingham and Oxford and start the game a point in front of us. We will have to keep the prolific Billy Sharp at bay and they also have Leon Clarke but he did not appear on Saturday so maybe he is injured. Simon Moore in goal will face us for the second time this season having played for Cardiff against us so he will be well aware of the danger Chris Lines presents! I very much hope we don’t see a repeat of replacing Hartley with James Clarke as we need to keep the same defence to hopefully stop the run of early goals. Dc as always will have a difficult selection if Matty Taylor is fit and personally despite Ellis’s goal and improvement I would start with Gaffney who I think partners Taylor better. At least now Ellis is really making a fight of it and it is a good position to be in. UTG

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