Wasteful

After Saturdays big defeat it was a chance for Rovers to progress in the FA Cup at the expense of a League 2 outfit who probably deserved a replay based on their performance in the original match. Team selection saw a return to 4-4-2 with Roberts replacing the suspended Leadbitter and two wingers being Byron Moore on the right and Montano on the left with Lines and Sinclair in the centre and Gaffney replacing Harrison up front alongside Taylor. The out of form Harrison was not even in the squad which saw the return of Billy Bodin.

It turned out to be a match that in all honesty should have been a Rovers win at a cantor but turned out to be an entertaining 2-2 draw due to Rovers missing an enormous amount of straight forward chances and another “Christmas come early” defensive calamity show that always threatened to ruin our night. In possession we were very good and the football played was a joy to watch with only the final finish or accuracy of cross eluding them. The Crawley goal led a charmed life but still we twice managed to take the lead and twice we were pegged back with Crawleys only two real shots on target, such was our supremacy on the night and yet with the defence playing as they are at the moment it always seemed possible that this was not going to be our night and that Crawley would snatch an undeserved win at the death. Thankfully that was not to be and two goals a piece from the excellent Gaffney and prolific Matty Taylor was to provide a well deserved 4-2 win in extra time. Even in a very one sided extra time with a bit more better decision making and finishing it could easily have been 6 or 7-2 such was the dominance .

Roos 6 Very little to do other than pick the ball out of the net twice but both goals were down to poor work by his colleagues and he looked confident in what he had to do.

Roberts 6 Defensively other than a few moments in the first half it was an Ok performance and a player needs game time to build up his sharpness which he is not getting under DC. Overall I would say he is not as good as Leadbitter or James Clarke but maybe that is doing him an injustice because it is not easy to come in ,play reasonably and then go out of the squad completely and whilst DC’s tactics and selection work very well for the team and results there are several players who I think suffer from the effects of this and cannot be happy with their failure to get regular football.

Lockyer 6 Pretty solid in most of what he did but there are moments when he seems to shut off and these moments are all part of the way the defence as a unit look at the moment- unsure and shaky and a bit like the chocolates with a soft centre. Maybe the Captaincy is affecting his own game and I think a spell of relieving him of the duty may help him recover last seasons form.

Hartley 5 Has looked a bit shaky in his last couple of games and was at fault for the second goal when he should have headed clear without any problem. Trouble is he is really useful to have around at corners and the only defender who looks like scoring on a fairly regular basis. For long spells he looks composed and tough tackling but there seems to be the odd moments when he looks off the pace and slow to the ball. The trouble is that he had little to do in the way of marking last night as Crawley for the majority of the game offered nothing so maybe he was just losing a bit of concentration but like last Saturday he is missing balls he should be soaking up and maybe we have to replace experience with youth.

Brown 6 A mixed bag from Lee last night. Lots of good running from him but lots of poor passing and crossing too. For me he sometimes holds on to the ball too long and prefers to do things for himself rather than pass the ball earlier. He should have done for Hartley on the second goal what Montano is expected to do for him and that is cover when he goes to meet a ball and fails.

Moore 4 Subbed at half time and it was no surprise as he struggled to get into the game at all and to be honest apart from one run and a few moments of good defensive cover I really struggle to think of anything positive to say which is disappointing as I had high hopes when he signed but he is far from the player he was at Crewe a fair few years back.

Sinclair 7 In truth I could probably just “Cut and paste” my report for Sincs every match and it wouldn’t be far off. he epitises everything about a “Model footballer” great enthusiasm , spirit and a fight to the death- gives his all every game and never shirks a tackle and if he got cut I am sure you would discover blue blood. He is never going to be an amazingly creative player but brings other qualities to the fore that ensures the team ticks over and never allows the opposition settling time. I would prefer to see more forward passes and runs but can see the reason he is a regular when other more technically gifted players are not.

Lines 8 He mostly controlled the pace of the game with his long surging runs and was involved in most things that were good going forward and , for me he is the most improved player this season. He was badly at fault for the first equaliser and that is worrying following a similar mistake on Saturday and it would be good to see him try a long shot more often with a few less Hollywood passes. That said it is good to see a player who is always trying to move forward and play positive passes.

Montano 7 Works much harder now than previously and works very well with Lee Brown although I must say that he could prosper even better if Lee Brown passed the ball to him quicker rather than bringing it out himself. Some of Montano’s pacy and skilful approach work is a delight to watch but just as frustrating can be his final cross or shot. despite this he would be in my team every game because he is exciting and a bit of an enigma and will probably improve considerably with a regular involvement. One tremendous run from the half way line where he beat a number of players only to be stopped at the last second deserved a goal and he was unlucky not to score a couple of goals.

Taylor 7 Not at his very best but really didn’t need to be and did what he does best and set us on the way with a well taken header looped over the advancing keeper and accomplished penalty. Then there was an absolutely brilliant dummy and turn past a defender before setting up another chance that went astray. he could easily have scored four but two will do!!

Gaffney 8.5 MOTM Never stopped running and harassing defenders in what was his best performance in a while. The bonus was that he scored two well taken goals and could ,like Taylor have had four as the first half shot that hit the post should have been taken and the header was even easier. He really led the attack well and now must be given a run of games to build on it.

Subs:

Bodin 6 His footwork and skilful runs causes problems for defenders and he certainly gave the Crawley defence far more trouble than the struggling Moore and it was more like the Bodin of last season although he; like most of the other attacking players; missed relatively easy chances.

James 7 Finally came out of his shell and gave the sort of performance that promises an exciting future and maybe a natural replacement for Taylor. Showed good quality on the ball and tremendous skill with a run and shot that deserved a goal rather than coming back off the post.

Clarke-Salter 6 Surely he must start on Saturday as he looked again a quality player with his calmness and surprising authority considering his age and lack of experience. I wonder if he can play as the right sided central defender because if so he could challenge either Lockyer or Hartley as both are struggling for consistency of performance.

Crowd 6 Is watching England on TV better than watching Rovers? From my own point of view I find watching England on par with watching paint dry whilst watching Rovers wastefulness can be frustrating but never lacking in entertainment. With two more home games following I can understand people having to choose which games they can afford to attend however for those who did attend it was a good game to watch and a typical cup tie.
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Ref 6 Some poor decisions but we have had a lot worse.

Crawley 5 Made the most of two defensive errors but should have been disposed of far easier. They were totally overrun from the off and in all honesty were pretty poor and I am sure that Barrow will provide a sterner test even though they are two divisions below. if people think it will be an easier game just think back to last years FA Cup!

DC – No criticism whatsoever of selection or substitutions but I bet he was as frustrated as everyone else with the final decision making and over generous defending.

So we move on back to League games on Saturday and I hope that DC will set up the team 4-4-2 again. I would take 4 points from the two home games but I see two difficult matches that will need to see us take more of our chances if we are to be successful. I would not be inclined to change much from last nights team other than consider Clarke- Salter for one of the centre half berths and Bodin or Easter for Byron Moore. I would like to see Boateng on the bench but that means leaving out James and IMO DC must sort out at January to ensure we only have five loanees. UTG

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