Good all round Performance

After a great comeback in midweek at MK Dons it was another long trek up North on very busy roads to play against an Oldham side who; despite their lowly position; would have been boosted by their 2-0 midweek victory over the leaders Scunthorpe. After last Saturdays victory I did say that I would take three points from the next two away games but having got the solitary point midweek it was not now possible to get three points so really I was looking for the maximum three points yesterday although in all honesty I would have settled for another draw. Team Selection is always the first thoughts when we head into any game and particularly how many changes DC would make however yesterday he was already helped on his way by two suspensions (Ollie Clarke and Harrison) and I have to say that I would not have disagreed with a large number of changes for yesterdays game and when the team came through I have to say that the 5 changes made were not far off what I would have done after a hugely disappointing performance midweek where the fantastic fight back gave us a result which was far more impressive than the performance. I would have considered dropping Roberts, Lockyer, Brown, Bodin, Ollie Clarke and Harrison after their performances midweek and so it was no surprise that Roberts, Bodin , Ollie Clarke and Harrison were left out and in all honesty no surprise that Lockyer and Brown retained their place. I felt Clarke- Salter was the only player who really could have been considered unlucky not to be playing but I too would have brought Hartley and Boetang back in. Anyway it was nice to enter a game with what; on paper; looked a well balanced team.

The first thing that hit me when the teams took to the pitch was how tall the opposition were and as the game kicked off it became clear that they had a spread of tall players all over the pitch and it was not going to be the sort of game where we could or should hit long high balls and it would definitely be a challenge to get this game under control. I need not have worried because I was to witness our best first half performance since Sheffield United away. In all honesty it was a very good contest and Oldham had their moments and periods of ascendancy and really it was a battle between a team who switched play well and played to the full width of the pitch against a Rovers side who played a narrower game that was more direct. For me the midfield was the key area with us holding the ball well and for a change looking like a unit that all knew their respective jobs and did them well. Boetang was for me the outstanding performer as Oldham struggled to cope with his close ball control, physical strength and accurate passing – something I feel we have been lacking in a lot of games. It certainly worked well and he was well supported by the ever running and tough tackling Sinclair and the silky skills that both Colkett and Lines showed. The return of Hartley was also key as he gave a great exhibition of aerial power and rarely lost a ball. Both full backs were tested throughout by the Oldham attacks that were mainly aimed down the flanks and I felt Brown struggled at times but was good and compact in possession whereas James Clarke stood firm and was rarely beaten but didn’t get forward as well.

This was very much a match that followed a different pattern to most of the other games this season in that we had the rare luxury of a one goal lead given by another excellent Colkett finish and whilst we created more chances in the second half I actually thought the first half performance was better. I would say that the final 2-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of play on the day but it could just as easily have been 3-1 or 4-2 as Roos was excellent and produced a couple of brilliant saves whilst our chances tended to be poor misses .

Roos 8 Excellent performance throughout producing a couple of outstanding saves and backing this up with good handling and reading of the game which certainly showed how stupid the recent posts have been that questioned if Mildenhall should be reinstated. Roos is our number 1 keeper without a doubt and this performance was outstanding because it came after what could have been a confidence shattering performance in midweek. I had no doubt whatsoever that Tuesdays game was just a blip and that Roos is one of the top young keepers. For me he is a better all round keeper than any of the others we have had over the years and the only one that even comes close since the departure of Steve Phillips is Logan. In my opinion too much of opinions on keepers is based on whether they wave at the fans ie Andersen or are very spectacular ie Etheridge. Roos has the all round ability to be one of the best we have had but he will never be a waver to the fans IMO.

J. Clarke 7 Came in and did nothing wrong in a game that was difficult because Oldham played very much to the wings and it was essential that James stuck to his task and he did this well with a strong defensive performance that got better as the game went on. it always amazes me that he looks quite slow yet is rarely beaten in a race for the ball and is better in the air than Leadbitter. I have not seen enough of Roberts to compare them fairly but based on yesterday I would keep james in next Saturday or play Roberts rather than go back to wingbacks.

Lockyer 7 Couple of errors but much better than recent performances and lets hope now he can bring the consistency back into his performances. His distribution will never be the best but his other defensive qualities are a great asset and yesterday we defended well against a very difficult team to play against..

Hartley 8 Glad to see him back and would play him every game because you get exactly what is on the label and that is a calm physical presence with the ability to win most aerial battles and be an asset in both penalty areas. Very much hope his injury is not bad,it didn’t look it so hopefully the substitution was precautionary but at the worst at least we have a quality replacement. I wonder if it is possible to fit both in the team and whether Clarke- Salter could play left back if necessary.

Brown 6.5 Not at his best but still had a reasonable game and kept going. In the first half in particular he was involved a lot going forward and did very well but does look a bit dodgy when attacked at pace and Oldham seemed to pick the flanks out as their best hope of success but perhaps that is just the way they play.

Sinclair 8 Outstanding effort and could have been my Man of the Match and maybe others choice with which I couldn’t disagree. Won lots of the ball and gave a simple pass and kept the game moving. For me yesterday could have been the day when DC found his best midfield unit and I very much hope that he keeps this quartet together for the next game. Stuart does give the side something which is quite rare and that is a consistency and by that I mean even if he has a poor game it is at a level that means he gives something to the game whereas most players if they have a bad game give very little to the game. A heart of gold and if he continues to play with the other three in midfield will be worth his weight in gold.

Lines 7 Unusually first half was better than second and in my mind the midfield yesterday had a bit of everything about it and in the first half these qualities shone through the performance of the four midfielders and they complemented each other excellently. Chris set up both goals with his set pieces .

Boateng 8.5 MOM Outstanding first half and in my opinion for the first hour he stood head and shoulders above anyone else on the field. Power , skill on the ball and the ability to hold onto it under great pressure . Showed for me just why DC signed him and had he scored after two delightful step overs and turns it would have been a classic goal. Some will disagree but for me it is to watch skills like he shows that is worth the money paid to travel up and down the country watching this club and is the sole reason I gave my Man of the Match to him and not Stu who was also outstanding yesterday.

Colkett 7.5 Another great finish from a player who has everything in terms of ability on the ball and the eye for a pass. Is a perfect foil for both Lines and Boetang and now has three goals to his name. He has the great ability to pick a pass whether it be long or short and always wants the ball and to go forward with it. Another player who could have been Man of the Match.

Taylor 5.5 I am sure Matty will be disappointed not to have another two goals on his tally . Not at his best and will still be wondering how,after rounding the keeper, he did not finish off or on the other occasion lob the keeper who was in no mans land. On saying that I am sure Oldham would have loved to have had a striker of his quality.

Gaffney 6 Cannot fault his workrate and skill on the ground to hold the ball and his running of the lines however he does not really look like he is likely to score a lot of goals although I would still pick him as the best partner for Taylor. Holding on to Taylor could be our toughest task come January but a priority in my opinion is to get another strong physical striker in to support him.

Subs:
Clarke-Salter 7 Slotted into the defence well after Hartleys injury and scored with a brilliant header that Hartley would have been proud of. At last we seem to have real competition in defence other than I am not sure we have an adequate replacement for Lee Brown. The two Chelsea youngsters are a real coup for Darrell Clarke and I am sure just a little help from Wael.

Moore 6 Looks good and calm on the ball and gave us the width to hold up the progress Oldham were making down the lines.Yet again a perfect substitution at the right time by Darrell. I am sure that we are going to see a lot more of Byron.

Montano 7 Did the same as Byron Moore but is more direct, a little more unpredictable and deserves to get a good chance as he does make the team more exciting with his direct running but also his ability to cover Brown. Loved the way he was kissing the Club badge to “not so supporting” home fans which was great to see when you consider he does not always get the most in the way of playing in the side. It was interesting to hear that most players would say he is the worst when not selected and that is what you want in many ways because for me nobody should be happy to not be in the team.

DC Got everything right in my opinion and I am sure he would have been delighted to see his originally selected line up produce a good first half performance. His substitutions were perfect again and at just the right time to stop Oldham progressing down the flanks and also to get fresh legs on as others tired. I admire the way he says it as he sees it after a game and his opinion is always honest and frank which cannot be said for many Managers. Great praise has to be given to DC and his staff for the position we are in at the present . Amazing is the word I would use.

Crowd 8 Another good turn out that looked more than the 900 and certainly sounded like more with good vocal support that was rewarded with arguably one of our best performances.

Ref 7 Good performance but the same could not be said for the linesmen who were poor. Only criticism would be that he took a long time to get things moving at times but overall the best we have had in a while.

Oldham 6.5 Elements of their play were very good and the general height of their players makes them a difficult team to play against. The interesting thing is that they are a very mean team defensively and yet we could easily have scored two or three more goals had we taken relatively easy chances. I have to say I couldn’t really see how they had beaten Scunthorpe and they looked in need of a quality striker.I think, they will however be good enough to finish mid table and will trouble a lot of teams with the way they play and the physical side of their players.

So we move on to a very difficult game against a team who you just don’t know what you are going to face. Peterborough are well capable of beating anyone but also more than capable of not turning up. I would be quite happy if DC keeps the same side selected today or would have no problem if he gave Monty a start with Byron Moore on the bench to come on. I would take four points from the two home games as being a good return but winning at Oldham yesterday has given us a bonus with the home games coming up. UTG

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