By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Arrggghhh! Well we certainly lived up to being consistently inconsistent against Cheltenham, following up a good away win with a disappointing home defeat. Once again we were forced to make changes due to injury and this led to another formation change.
This change did seem to annoy many a fan with one up front at home. Of course we did have one up front, but I think that is far too simplistic as to say how we were trying to play. From what I could see we were trying to play the now popular 4-3-2-1 formation with Campbell and Stanley sitting and Carayol, Richards and Anyinsah to support Zebroski up top. If it had worked, there certainly wouldn`t have been moans about one up front at home. For me the problem was with Zebroski as the ‘one`. He is definitely a handful as a centre-forward, but he lacks touch and control. The ball seems to hit him and go places and thus didn`t and doesn`t bring the three who are supposed to be in support of him into the game. I think if Harrold had been in that position as the main guy then he may have brought Richards, Carayol and Anyinsah into the game more. As it was they seemed lost and isolated most of the time which also doesn`t help the defensive side of the game.
Now we were poor and there are no arguments from me on that score, but I was very disappointed to hear boos and ironic cheering at points in the game. I have done it myself in the past and I may very well in the future. The reason it disappoints me is we are still a relatively new squad of players and management and our record sees us at Won 4, Lost 4, Drawn 3 in the league and we sit still only three points off the play-off places and some of the reactions I have heard and read make it sound as if we were being cut adrift at the bottom of the league. There is still plenty to play for and as I have said in previous columns, if we can stay in touch going into the second half of the season then I hope we will be in a position to really push on. I have always thought Rovers fans were generally patient and would put up with quite a lot before getting agitated like they did in the previous game. I certainly don`t think I have heard the sort of negative reaction to a new Rovers team and manager this early in their tenure. Maybe some of the reactions are a hangover from last season and going down in a whimper, some from the managers statement about lowering expectations. At the end of the day though we are a fourth division team with fourth division players like 23 other teams. If you look at the results most of the teams have been trading results with each other and there are no real runaway teams. I also Guarantee that if you traded a couple of away wins for home ones then you would not hear (or at least not a s much) those reactions.
It was also frustrating to pick up more injuries and it now looks as thought Danny Woodards will be out for a period of time along with Scott McGleish and this certainly doesn`t help us get a settled team. If we can get a settled team, I think most of us would agree that, that would probably help consistency issues and any push to the upper reaches of the league.
This Saturday sees us travel to Oxford and it looks as though we have sold just over a thousand tickets and so should have a good travelling support to hopefully roar us on to victory. Again depending on other results a win could see us push up on the play-offs and no one would moan that we are currently 15th. I would say just remember our promotion season under Paul Trollope and Lennie Lawrence and the first two-thirds of the season that were hardly spectacular. Oxford is certainly one of the games I would usually make the effort to go to as it is generally a good day out and I always have good memories of trips there, but alas I am a bit short of cash at the moment as I will be moving house again next week and I need money for deposits and bits and bobs. This is also a way of saying I won`t have an article next week due to being busy moving and so I should be back in a fortnight with hopefully six points under our belts.
It does also look like I will miss yet another game. This time the Dagenham & Redbridge game on the 29th October as for my birthday my wonderful girlfriend is taking me (although I will be driving) to London for the weekend as for my birthday she bought me tickets to see The Arctic Monkeys at The O2. Hopefully when I`m back writing this in a fortnight I won`t be a Mardy Bum.