‘We cannot keep chasing the game’

Stroud News and Journal: FGR fan John Light FGR fan John Light

YOU have read much of this before I’m afraid: poor start, rousing finish, fruitless corners, chances missed and, worst of all, cup exit again.

This is a re-written column. In the middle of Sunday night, I realised a sense of perspective is needed as our league position is fine and promotion or play-offs are within our grasp – but not if the same faults keep occurring.

Why they are so doing is a direct challenge to management and coaches.

Certainly everyone acknowledges the problem – now is the time to take action before all this season’s good work is undone.

Last week, I lightheartedly suggested an alarm clock was needed. Should I have said water cannon? To win a game, any game, you need to impose yourself as a team. This is not happening often enough of late.

"We cannot keep chasing games," said manager Hockaday after the game. Indeed not. Our poor starts are in stark contrast to our rousing finishes. Recently it has all been too little and, with soft goals being conceded, matches are slipping away. Silverware already is off the agenda.

It was 22 minutes on Saturday before there was a goal attempt from open play. Where was the cutting edge? Trinity were allowed to settle – players and crowd gained in confidence.

They played to their strengths and dug in. Forest Green did not. I was haunted all last season by a phrase I heard at Hayes. I must repeat it because it is still relevant.

"You are playing good football but not hurting them".

Our forwards are not scoring – in fact, our last two goals have been scored by our left-back, Chris Stokes. A telling statistic is that during the match against Nuneaton, all three forwards were substituted and on Saturday two were.

Does not this raise questions over selection?

Again this is another matter for the manager to sort out. Six crucial league matches f ollow in quick succession and 18 points are available. Few will be won if the recent form continues.

Last season, we played Braintree away after some poor performances. Five goals were scored. We need similar result, and I would settle for ten points out of the next 18.

There is the chance of six from the next two games against lower placed teams. Go out and earn them Rovers.

Some general points now. First the crowd.

Manager and players sportingly acknowledged the Gainsborough support as they left the field.

The contribution of visiting supporters was remarked upon in the postmatch press conference.

Was this an implied criticism of us? This was FGR Radio/ BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Bob Hunt’s question to Dave Hockaday. Always up front and honest in his after the game comments, he answered that sometimes supporters needed to stand up and be counted.

I thought the Rockwool did. Certainly after the final whistle, there were boos – but not during the game. The main stand are never the most vocal and on Saturday there was not too much to shout about.

My son is an experienced actor with much stage experience. He was told at the outset of his career that once people had paid for admission, they had the opportunity to praise and acclaim what they saw, but criticise as well.

In every performance, any applause has to be earned. There should be no let up. Are footballers told this? Now contracts. I have no problem with players not yet signing. They may well be ambitious and wish to play in the Football League. There is nothing wrong with this and hopefully that can be with FGR.

If not, they have the right to take their chance elsewhere as so many of us have done in our working life. Attitudes in the club should not polarise.

I am hoping that they do not but am worried that Oshodi lost the captaincy, giving way to Collins. The manager reassured us by saying the armband rested more easily with the more experienced player.

No cup progress this year means the all-important league challenge can be met without distractions – and the chance is there.

Our team performance must reflect the strength of the squad. In the cup, it has not; in the league, it so splendidly has. Long may the league performance be the norm.

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