Back to winning ways

After Saturdays result it was important that Rovers put the disappointment behind them and it is always a bonus to have quick chance to put things right after a defeat. This was even more important by the fact that this Saturday sees a break from the League programme and it is always good to go into any break on the back of a victory.

It was very clear at 7 o’clock that the crows was going to be pretty big although I was not sure if we would manage to get more than Saturday despite the free ticket offer as it was obvious that the following from Fleetwood could all be fitted on one coach! I have found out since that the home end was declared sold out and that quite a few had been turned away before the extra “away terracing” was made available to home supporters. Credit to the club for making that terracing available but surely the decision should have been made a bit earlier when it became obvious that the home end was nearing capacity but in the clubs defence if people are going to turn up close to kick off then there is a chance of problems although I am a bit bemused that a crowd of 10,088 should provide problems when surely the capacity is nearer 12,000 than 10,000. There of course is always a problem when the club advise to turn up early because the late problems are then caused by the famous Bristol traffic and parking chaos so really the club has a difficult task. Anyway hopefully there were very few who didn’t manage to see a game of football last night.

For those who were there when the team sheet came out the side showed only three changes (Come on Darrell only three!!) from Saturday with Ellis Harrison, Byron Moore and Christian Montano in the side at the expense of Ollie Clarke, Rory Gaffney and Charlie Colkett. Ollie Clarke unfortunately found himself out of the squad completely and Will Puddy was on the bench for the unlucky Mildenhall who I understand will have a four month lay off. I doubt many who play the guess Darrell’s team and formation would have guessed the line up with the unusual inclusion of 2 wingers.

Anyway onto the game and the thing we definitely didn’t want after Saturdays late defeat was finding ourselves a goal down within the first 5 minutes but that was exactly what happened as Ashley Hunter strode clear following a mistake by Clarke-Salter and finished superbly with a powerful drive from an angle into the far corner of the net giving Roos no chance. The thing I love about this present side under DC is that going a goal down is not an absolute disaster and based on our record this season might even be; in a strange sort of way; an advantage! Roos twice saved us from an even more difficult task but it is fair to say that we should have been leading by halftime had we the predators instinct as Montano; who was very bright on his return; put over two or three crosses that were crying out to be finished off. There was some good football played in that first half and really Sinclair and Matty taylor twice should have done better with half decent chances. It is sometimes criminal that for the amount of possession we have we don’t work the keeper harder although keeper Chris Neal also played his part to keep us out as did ex Rovers Loanee Cian Bolger who with Pond formed a formidable barrier at the heart of the visitors defence. We had three appeals for a penalty- one for a handball which I would have considered very harsh had it been given but have seen them given and two fouls on Sinclair and Montano where both looked strong cases to be given but turned down by the referee who was not endearing himself to the home crowd. We were very unlucky that at least one of them was not awarded.

To be completely honest , whilst Fleetwood’s pacy forwards could not be ignored, the second half was very similar to the latter stages of the first with us well on top and not deserving to be behind. Montano’s clever wing play and delightful low cross just failed to find Taylor and Christian then had what looked like a goalbound shot blocked and Ellis should have done better with a header before the equaliser finally deservedly came courtesy of a Matty Taylor header which really he couldn’t have missed after a pin point cross from the impressive Leadbitter. “Normality” resumed when Christian Montano got in behind the tiring defence and cleverly beat the keeper with a chipped shot to give us victory from being one down- my view of the goal was bit impaired and so it was difficult to see how it actually went in and whether the keeper was at fault but at the end of the day who bloody cares as it was well deserved . After that we were fairly comfortable to be honest and the defence contained the opposition well for a deserved three points in an overall good performance and a good game of football to watch. The only worrying thing was an injury to Montano on the touchline which saw him replaced to a huge ovation. Lets hope it was nothing serious although I would rate his chances of playing Saturday (if selected) as unlikely. I would describe this as a well earned victory that; like last Saturday; should have seen us score more goals but probably we were actually better last Saturday and lost! – such is Football.

Roos 7 Credit to this guy for the way he performed last night after Saturday’s mistake and really in many ways he won us the three points last night with two quality saves that prevented us going two down and faced with a real uphill task. His handling throughout was top class and although he didn’t have a great deal to do what he did do he did well and proved what I already knew that he is a fine keeper but like most keepers does have a bad mistake in him – lets be honest if he didn’t he would be playing in the Premiership.

Leadbitter 8
MOM Superb performance at both ends for Danny. Better standard of crossing than Saturday and his cross for Taylor’s equaliser put it on the plate for goal poacher supreme. Has he now proved himself enough to be a regular on the team sheet? You can never tell with DC but it certainly gives players the incentive to make themselves “undroppable”.- No can’t really use that word because anyone is droppable under the Gaffer.

Lockyer 7
Seems to be slowly but surely regaining his form and really continued on from Saturday without the mistake and got better and better as the game went on as the team did. We looked very strong defensively second half and maybe that was down to keeping the same defence.

Clarke-Salter 7
Overall was very good particularly in the air and it was good to see that he did not allow his early error for the goal to upset his game and like Lockyer he got better and better as the game went on and won everything that was thrown at him in the air. certainly one for the future and for me it is now to DC as to whether he allows the partnership with Lockyer to develop or goes for the more experienced Hartley but it is not good to keep changing your defensive partnership.

Brown 7
Another who got better and better as the game went on. Some of the movement and passing between him and Montano was a delight to watch although sometimes I wish he would pass the ball quicker to Montano. Kept things tight at the back and put over some good crosses

Moore 5
Nobody can fault his work rate but for me overall it was a disappointing performance more because of his seeming unwillingness to really take on and beat his player but did put in a couple of good crosses and I am sure he is a player who will get better if he is persevered with.

Sinclair 6.5
In this formation a player like Stuart is worth his weight in gold as it is always going to be difficult in a midfield two. You can always rely on Stuart running and running and what he lacks in footballing quality he makes up for in Blood and sweat. For me no matter what formation it has to be a straight choice between him or Ollie Clarke because neither are really creative players and the latter disappears from the game for long periods, so for me it would be Sinclair all the time.

Lines 7
Average first half and an outstanding second half. When he runs with the ball as he did so often in the second half there are few players better than him at this level and it is my opinion that he is now playing better than his first spell with us and he must now be one of the first names on the teamsheet. Some of his chipped passes or probing ones are a joy to watch. Unfortunately I think his booking takes him to 5 which if so means he won’t be on the team sheet Saturday. IMO it is a blessing that it is an FA Cup game he misses.

Montano 7.5
Not everything he did came off but he is exciting to watch and is well capable of opening up defences with clever passes and really he has the ability to put in a variety of crosses and last night he put in at least three low crosses that should have been converted. He also works very well with Lee Brown and some of their quick one twos were delightful. He also possesses a good shot and I really hope his injury suffered near the end is nothing serious because his work rate and ability to get back and cover and his overall performance last night deserves a run in the team- a luxury he has never been afforded.

Taylor 7
Worked hard and always looks dangerous with his quick turns and pace. OK his goal was put on a plate for him but if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win the lottery and he had to be in the position to finish it off and the fact it was a header was even better considering the size and overall aerial supremacy of the two Fleetwood’s centre halves. He could easily have come off with another hat trick with just a bit of luck as he was deprived by a couple of saves by the keeper.

Harrison 4.5
Totally subdued by the dominant Pond/Bolger partnership. For me Ellis is going through a very ineffective period and I must admit that after Saturdays performance I was very surprised he started as he had done nothing IMO to warrant a starting place and that was very much the case last night with another lack lustre performance that eventually saw him replaced by Gaffney. He should have done better with a header in the second half when well placed but sent it just over. Will he ever fully realise his potential? I am not so sure he will.

Gaffney 6.5
came on for Ellis and immediately started doing what Ellis had not and gave the Fleetwood rear guard something to think about. His quick feet and strong clever runs started to create space for others and for me ,even if the goals don’t come he is a better option than Harrison who flatters to deceive at the moment.

Colkett Not lomg enough on pitch
to mark but did get involved straight away and showed some good touches.

Easter Similar to Colkett not long enough on pitch
to mark or influence the game.

Crowd 8 Great turnout and beat the magical 10000 mark which was creditable considering there were only a few from Fleetwood.

Ref 6 Started off well and got worse is how I would describe a performance that saw too many decisions missed but in all honesty after last Saturday’s effort almost anything would have been acceptable!

Fleetwood 6.5 Much better team to watch than Peterborough and in the main play the game as it should be played. Some pacy players and their goal was as good as I have seen this season albeit a poor mistake from us.

DC Surprised most people I would imagine by playing two wingers which I would say had moderate success as it does put a lot of pressure on the two central midfield players but with both wingers being hard working it can be exciting to watch but it really relies on having a player like Sinclair in the middle to chase everything and close down players. I felt that the defence could have played about 10 yards further up the pitch in the first half as they had nobody to really mark as the two Fleetwood forwards clever movement saw them being able to pick up far too much of the ball unmarked and turn and run. Anyway fair play to DC for what was an attacking formation although I thought he would bring on Gaffney earlier as Harrison disappointed again. I am sure that finding ourselves in 5th position is beyond the expectations of most; myself included; so long may it continue and well done Sir DC!

So we move on to a break from league Football and on to the FA Cup and what will probably be a tough game at Crawley but one we should be well capable of winning. I believe Lines will be suspended and due to his lack of appearances so far I would not be surprised if Boateng is not allowed to play or if even he himself will want to get himself cup tied. That decision may be a sign on what will happen to him come January.

The players I would definitely play are


Leadbitter Lockyer ________ Brown

_______ _________ Sinclair Montano

Taylor Gaffney

I think I would go for the experience of Hartley against a rugged League 2 outfit but whichever I decided on I would try to keep the side the same for a run of games. (Checkatrade Cup or whatever its called excluded). The two other positions I would choose between any two of Moore, Colkett, Boateng or Easter or maybe even play Ellis wide right but at the end of the day would probably play Colkett and Boateng. If Montano is unfit then I would play Byron Moore. Who knows what is going through DC’s mind but our FA Cup record under him is not very impressive, in fact it is awful so lets hope for something better this time around. UTG

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