The clinical v the wasteful

So we entered into the final away game of the season barring a miracle and the trouble was that out of the permutations required to take the challenge to the last day i always felt that it would be us who would let things down and probably that was exactly how it should have been because it has been a great first season back in League 1 but overall our away form has been disappointing and in truth we are not good enough to be in the top seven and I base this on the lack of overall quality in the squad. This is not being harsh but truthful on a group of players who have given everything to the cause and have been the best Bristol Rovers side in probably twenty years. For this reason I do not feel that now is the time to break up the side but rather to mainly add quality to it in the form of six quality signings. This would be on the basis of retaining Lumley and Sweeney but adding two quality central midfielders, an additional winger and up to three strikers. Before anyone says we won’t make eight signings – we have to!! We only have eight players contacted for next season but even if we retain most of this seasons players you have to remember that with the stupid loan rules that exist you need a squad of about 26-28 players to get through to the New Year.

Anyway back to the present and yesterdays game – it was a sunny but chilly day and the best I can say about proceedings was that it was an end to end game that in all honesty should never have had more than one goal in it and it was farcical to be sat watching the team four goals down when Peterborough probably only mustered seven shots in the game and we probably had far more chances than them. There was an element of bad luck about the ways thing went but there were times where you just didn’t think that the ball was ever going to go into the net with goal line clearances, richochets, good goalkeeping and a bad penalty miss which was probably the turning point of the game as who could say how the game would have evolved if we had scored and made it 1-1. It just seemed it was a case of ; unlike previous years; it just was not destined to happen however what made yesterday far worse was the news that Millwall were two down early on and later Southend were behind as well. The two players who have really transformed our season turned out to have their worst games for us yesterday with Lumley being at fault for the third and possibly should have kept out the first and Sweeney being very poor on the vital second and fourth, Two well struck late goals by Gaffney were the least we deserved overall in what really was an end to end game with Peterborough being very clinical when presented with opportunities

Lumley 5
First time he has looked anything but invincible! It will be interesting to see how he reacts to very poor goalkeeping on the third goal where the shot went through him and a pushed out save from a free kick in the first half and lacked the overall authority of previous games but he was entitled to a below par performance but did make a couple of good saves.

J Clarke 5 For me he lacks the quality but tries hard and did make some good forward runs but was beaten for pace too often.

Lockyer 5 Ran ragged at times and looked anything but quality on the ball. It was back to some of the pre christmas performances from Tom and personally I would have brought on Clarke- Salter or Partington. We looked like we would concede every time Peterborough ran at us and at one stage I really thought it was going to be 5 or 6 nil based on how por we were rather than how good Peterborough were.

Sweeney 4
His worst performance by a mile. Like Lockyer he was run completely ragged and just was not at the races from start to finish. Signs of what were to come appeared in his performance early on and was badly at fault for the key second goal where he always looked second best in attacking the ball and ended up with a stretched tame header that gave the Peterborough player all the time and space in the world to chip the hesitant Lumley.

Harris 4.5 Not a good game but really was under the cosh at times and gave the ball away far too often. Perhaps showed yesterday that we could do better in the summer to get somebody else in to challenge Browner for the left back spot.

Moore 5.5
Flattered to deceive and floated in and out of the game. Looks good at times and retains possession but defensively he is not as good as Monty and you just keep thinking that he is a player who has the ability but does not let loose and plays within himself. Won the penalty when challenged awkwardly.

Lines 5.5
Looked good in possession without the final ball matching his on the ball authority but when not in possession was completely over run and out numbered by lack of a partner in he middle.

Sinclair 4 In my opinion you just can’t play with a midfield central two if Sinclair is one of them because it just lacks organisation and quality and that was very much the case yesterday where Peterborough held the edge. I really think we should be looking to strengthen the overall ability and quality in the middle during the summer with two signings of quality to provide much sterner opposition for the midfield berths
. Remember that in the first half of the season we had Boateng and Colkett challenging as well as Mansell and Sinclair but since Christmas we have been light in that area of the pitch which has become very noticeable with Ollie Clarkes injury.

Bodin 6
Had the ability to control and bring down balls that he just shouldn’t have been able to. Always looked a handful but not quite coming off on enough occasions. Billy is another with the definite quality to be in a side challenging at the top end of League 1 but we need some more with quality and class which probably won’t come cheap.

Harrison 4.5
I am afraid that this was another case of Ellis just not being good enough. Not sure why he took the penalty when Bodin has been our regular spot kick taker recently but hit his shot far too close to the keeper and it was a good save. I won’t say bad penalty because if the keeper had dived the other way it would have been looked on as a great penalty. It is performances like this which really puts me in two minds as to0 whether we should try to retain Ellis. I would definitely keep him in preference to signing Luke James but I just don’t see him as becoming a 15 – 20 goal a season man. That said I would probably just edge on giving him a one tear contract but would not want to enter next season with him being my first choice striker pairing – that I am afraid to say would be down to two new quality signings and possibly a third as well.

Easter 6
No longer a striker but still oozes class in his ability to hold the ball and pick out players. Most things that were good went through him in some stage and if we can keep him on a one tear deal at possibly reduced wages then I would keep him because at least he has the ability of a top League 1 player and the experience to keep the ball moving.

Partington 5
Didn’t do a lot wrong but I really do no understand why James Clarke was started in preference to him. if there was a criticism of DC for this season then mine would be that he makes far too many unnecessary changes and that we don’t get a chance to see much consistency in the individual players
Gaffney 6.5 MOM
Two goals, both well taken and a bustling twenty minutes that you wonder what would have happened if it had been longer.
Broom 5
Average and didn’t really add anything to the team.

Ref 5

Crowd 5
It was very much a case of deja vous at away games for the travelling 900 fans with little to really inspire the crowd with us never really being in a position of superiority score wise and looking for a long time that we would be on the end of a rout in what was basically an end to end game with one team being clinical and the other wasteful.

Peterborough 7 Absolutely clinical. Able to play with no pressure with nothing on the game for them. Took their chances is really all that could be said about them as defensively they looked no great shakes just that we were worse and overall were a mid table team going through the motions and given the time and space to play in what at times felt like a pre season friendly.

DC This is not a day to criticise the Manager for an overall below par performance but rather to thank Darrell for producing what has ben a very exciting first season back in League 1 from which hopefully both the players and the Management team will have learnt a lot. There have been plenty of ups and downs, controversial incidents, terrible refereeing, great goals and some mighty poor ones conceded but who in their right mind could complain with a top ten finish when only three years ago about this time of the year the players were distraught on the Memorial Stadium pitch having been sent down to Non League for the first time in our history. It is for this reason that next Sunday we should turn up in our numbers and praise the efforts of this team and our up and coming Manager.

So we move on to the last game and a well deserved rest. UTG

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