By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Hello everyone it`s time again for something for the weekend. It`s certainly been a busy opening couple of weeks to the season so far and it will be no time at all before we are wondering where the start of the season went.
Having missed Saturday`s game against Torquay I was looking forward to the visit of Gary Johnson`s Northampton Town to see us get a first home win, find out what the weekend game was like with the added bonus of some ‘banter` with the small, portly Londoner. It was obviously disappointing to lose against Torquay but again it was going to be a difficult game with Torquay undoubtedly up for it and an expectant home crowd, the size and noise of which apparently shocked a few of our new players. Despite the result, most of the people I have spoken to and comments that I have read were generally pleased at least with the effort from the team and hoped that we would carry that on over the season.
As for Tuesday, it was the first competitive match I have had chance to see and I have to say I was happy and impressed with the level of effort and energy in the performance. To me it was a far cry from some of the insipid football we have played in the recent past. At time we lacked quality and did struggle a little bit after half time, but this is the fourth division and I do not expect us to be consistently good for 90 minutes and/or be world beaters.
Some quick thoughts running through the team, Bolger looked solid at the back, coming in for Smith with Byron moving to right-back (can`t really comment if Smith should have been dropped) and I was quite impressed with Lee Brown at left-back, got forward well and looks to have an excellent cross on him.
In midfield Gill and Stanley look comfortable on the ball and keep it moving. My only concern would be Stanley looks a bit one paced, with that pace being slow (he did however make a cracking tackle, tracking back near me so?). Anyinsah looked useful out wide before he tweaked a fetlock, which looks like it may be a bit of a reliable happening. My main criticism of the game and our set up was McGleish as the nominal left-sided player. Seemed a waste to me and I wasn`t sure what it was trying to achieve.
Up top Harrold lead the line well, but it appears will not be a ref favourite and will concede quite a few free-kicks deserved and un-deserved. It was also great to see a lively and dare I say it ‘interested` Joe Kuffour. Joe was a worthy man of the match and whatever the reason for his apparent renewed enthusiasm it will only be a good thing for Rovers.
It wasn`t a cracking performance by any means, but there are obviously things that still need to be worked on, kinks to be ironed out and understandings to be built. As long as we can pick up points in this early part of the season and keep with in touching distance as it were, then hopefully as the team becomes a better unit, then maybe we can make a real push for promotion or the play-offs.
Saturday see`s us travel to Moss Rose to take on Macclesfield and Paul Buckle has been talking about keeping our first clean sheet of the season, and of course if we do this we set ourselves up with a good chance of bagging our second away win of the season, before taking on Watford in the rearranged Carling Cup game. If we can tighten up the back as Mr Buckle hope against Macclesfield then we also have a good chance of knocking Watford out. In the opening few games we have had plenty of shots and there is always the likelihood that you will score when you create that many chances.
Hopefully I will be able to follow the Gas (and the other football this weekend) with the legend that is Jeff Stelling and his backing group. This may well take place in a local hostelry as I will want to watch the intriguing Arsenal v Liverpool game as a Liverpool follower and without access to Sky Sports this seems like the obvious and sensible solution (if you know what I mean), plus the girlfriend is attending an all day Hen do. This leads me to tell you that there won`t be a column next week as I am away for a few days concluding in another wedding meaning I miss the next home game.
If you are off to Cheshire I hope you enjoy/enjoyed the game, if not I hope you were all tuned in and everyone have a good weekend whatever else you get up to as it looks like the Sun is going to come out.
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips