Good win over tough opponents

Well although it looked unlikely it was sure to happen sometime – that I would actually agree with both the team selected and the squad as a whole. It happened today with only one change from the side which had won so convincingly last game and the only change being Harrison in place of a disappointing Gaffney and I agreed totally with that although I would not have disagreed if he had kept the same side. The bench for me was also spot on with Gaffney, Easter, Lawrence, Moore, Roos, Colkett and James Clarke. The only change I might have considered was Mansell for Colkett. Anyway after last weeks 4-1 win over Coventry I would have been satisfied with a point today and defeat on Monday giving us a four point haul over the holiday period. The fact we now have six points from the two games means in my mind that the game Monday is a bonus game and after our defeat; or the manner of the defeat at Shrewsbury; is a great place to be in.

The performance today against what is not an easy team to play against really sums up for me what has been a pretty good season so far and a very respectable top ten position. In many ways it makes DC’s job in the Transfer market that much more difficult with not so much who he brings in but rather who he gets rid of. I have little doubt that three players is the least we need to continue to improve as a team but that probably means allowing at least that many to leave, maybe more. I can see little point in retaining McCrystal or Gosling and would probably add Luke James and one of the Goalkeepers to those allowed to look for other clubs or in the case of Roos and James allowed to return to their parent clubs (I am not sure if they can under the new rules regarding loans where they have been loaned for the season. Even with that we still have Mansell and Sinclair neither of which were in the squad today.

A lot could depend on whether we can retain the services of Matty Taylor. if we do then I would be looking for a goalkeeper, centre half and centre midfield but in a perfect scenario I would be looking for competition at left back and a tall strong centre forward so maybe two on loan and three permanent signings. This in turn would result in having to lose at least one more and this for me would be James Clarke. My biggest worry is that we will set out our stool by losing some players before we see any come in and then we struggle to get any players in.

I see it didn’t take long for Boetang to get a new club and ironic that we could see him at the Mem in our next home game. Let’s hope that one doesn’t come to bite us on the ass. Anyway back to todays game. For me there were four players who all had a call on Man of the Match and with Mattys two goals being the difference in the result it would have been easy to give it to him however for me Ollie Clarke gave by far his best performance in a Rovers shirt and just edged the others with Leadbitter and Hartley also just missing out.

Puddy 7 – Despite not having a lot to do he gave a competent display and in all honesty the best game I have seen him play for us. Quick off his line and and handled one high cross excellently under pressure and pulled off a couple of good saves. His distribution both in terms of kicks and throw outs was excellent through the entire game. He has done enough to at least deserve a game on Monday and whether he gets that will depend on whether DC already has a signing up his sleeve.

Leadbitter 8 His best all round game this season with excellent defending and speedy attacking runs down the right which time and time again caught the Dons out.

Lockyer 7 – Kept his cool well and had to be at his best to keep Wimbledon at bay and restrict their scoring chances. Their strikers size gave them a huge advantage but for the first time in a while we looked solid under pressure , yes there was the odd slip up but on the whole our central defenders held their own and what they didn’t win in the air they made up for on the ground.

Hartley 8 – Kept battling from the first minute to the last and won his fair share of the aerial battle despite giving a few inches in height to his opponent. It really was an intriguing battle and I am sure DC would have been delighted at his centre halves performances and the leadership shown by Hartley and possibly make him wonder if a tall centre half should be his priority or somebody to push Lee Brown for his place. Personally I would still go for a tough tall centre half to push both our centre halves for their position.

Brown 6 – Struggled big time today for me particularly with his distribution where he far too often took the extra touch and therefore the service which both Montano and Moore received was very much restricted. Far too many of his passes or crosses were overhit and he is really struggling for form at the moment though I felt improved defensively as the game went on.

Bodin 7.5- The confidence he has got from his hattrick last game was there to see and some of his touches today were sublime. His silky skills really are a joy to watch and how he makes time and space for himself really is a bit special. I have the feeling that Billy will score a similar number of goals to last season and if he does then that means we are in for a sparkling second half of the season.

O. Clarke 8.5 MOM – I have been very tough on him at times but today was ;for me, his best all round performance for the club. he battled for every ball but not only that but when he won some fierce challenges he was always willing to strive forward with the ball and wasted very little today. If he could replicate this more often then we would not be needing to look for a defensive midfield signing but due to his inconsistences I feel we should be looking for a good signing but on todays showing Ollie could push them and maybe it could even be Chris Lines who is pushed for his place.

Lines 7 – Laid on the second goal with a surging and probing run and just got better and better as the game went on. Striding through the midfield there is not a better midfield player but he sometimes lets himself down with an over ambitious pass but today he also cut out a lot of danger with timely interceptions and with Ollie Clarke performing much better they looked a good combination.

Montano 7 – Tried hard all the time he was on the pitch despite finding it hard to get the ball in the first half as far to often Brown took an extra touch and then looked for a long ball rather than give Monty possession. He closed down opponents well and created a couple of the better opportunities in the first half with clever passing and was unlucky after a great run through took him past and clear of defenders but he just delayed his finish a second too long and a defender blocked the opportunity. He was today up against Fuller who is one of the better full backs at this level and his performance was very much restricted by the fact he had a winger to contend with in both Montano and
later Moore and personally I hope DC sticks with this tactic of starting with Bodin and Moore and then having Moore on the bench to come on. We look a much better team with width and that can work home and away.

Taylor 8 – Two cracking goals and should have been four but showed great general awareness throughout the game and was really a handful. I really hope we can keep him because I don’t think any amount of cash is going to bring us the amount of goals he could score this season.

Harrison 7 – Without getting particularly good possession overall I felt he had a good game against some very good defenders. First half we took a long time to get really into the game and combat the high ball or should I say stamp our game and get the ball on the ground. Ellis tried hard and IMO was a little unlucky to be substituted.

Moore 7 Held the ball well and added a bit of pace to the side. I feel he is worth keeping particularly if DC now sticks with 4-4-2 where we look a much better side.

Gaffney Nole
Couple of good runs.
Lawrence Nole
Would habve liked to have seen him for a bit longer to see what he can offer the side but hopefully he will get more opportunities to display his talent

Crowd 7
Another great turn out.

Ref 5 Typical of most of the referees we get with a lot of just plain bad decisions mixed with some OK refereeing.

Wimbledon 6 They play very much a League 2 style but do it very well and are one of the most physical sides in both attack and defence and provide an aerial threat at both ends. In truth looking after the game they didn’t really look like scot=ring but probably missed the pace of Lyle Taylor upfront which may have troubled our defenders more.

DC Pretty well got it right today but now what does he do for Monday? With such a short time to recover I can see every reason for making changes but also can see reasons for leaving alone as most players seemed comfortable again today within the formation but of course the other question is does DC already have some signings lined up like Northampton who today signed Boateng until the end of the season. Personally I would restrain from making changes based on what science tells him and pick the same team or like for like within the formation unless there is the unlikely event of him bringing better players tomorrow..

Happy New Year to all you Gasheads and may 2017 bring more of what this past year has given us.

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