10:48am Monday 27th January 2014
By John Light
ELEVEN matches, twenty-two points. Scott Bartlett as caretaker manager kick started the season into life and Ady Pennock has maintained a very healthy rate of progress.
Two points per- match which is what our team is achieving is bettered only by Luton and Cambridge. We are displaying play- off form.
Is it too late? We are seven points behind fourth placed Gateshead and have three games in hand. You can do the sums and I shall leave you to make your own assessment. Too many of my forecasts have been wrong.
What I am right about is the form of the team. They are playing exciting, exuberant football and most importantly look as if they are enjoying themselves. Al Bangura is playing like a man free from a ball and chain and plays an important part in moving the ball forward – very quickly.
Playing in an established Pennock pattern all the team know exactly what their role is, and everyone is playing with increased confidence. The defence was slow to settle on Saturday, allowing Chester some early chances, but with Hodgkiss settling in and Turley dominating, this shaky spell was not long lasting. Russell’s handling was impeccable and a clean sheet was kept.
The game was thoroughly entertaining with an energetic Chester side contributing much to an open, lively contest.
The referee deserved at least a score of nine in the NLP ratings, and the match merited four stars. The game was allowed to flow and the pace was maintained during a mini hurricane. All the players performed splendidly in atrocious conditions.
Full credit to everyone as well as groundsman Stewart Ward. It was not just the footballers who dealt with the conditions, the pitch did as well.
Lee Hughes was a joy to watch. A smile is never far from his face and he brings maturity and confidence to the team. His goals were beautifully taken and can anyone remember a player getting a standing ovation when substituted as Lee was late in the game?
His goals gave Rovers’ fans the opportunity to see his renowned celebratory dance. This can be described as a slim, trim Uncle Fester celebrating a lottery win.
The previous manager used to lament his young team could not ‘manage the moments’. This team can, and create them as well.
The week has seen two departures and a correctly circumspect manager indicated more to follow but wisely did not name names.
Good luck to both OJ Koroma and Reece. Some fans said OJ was never given a proper chance. Of course he did – every week in training in practice games and in behind closed door games against other sides. Make no mistake – you will be selected if you are good enough.
Reece goes with everyone’s good wishes. He never let us or himself down. This open ended move is a good one for all concerned and was made with proper co-operation between player and club. Reece praised the manager as a top man. You are too Reece.
One individual used the electronic media to say Reece’s move was pure player power, adding he should be made to stay and play out his contract. I suggest that gentleman knows little about football and less about life.
There was much to see at The New Lawn on Saturday. Jared or Hodgey as the manager calls him sported a new hairstyle, a name for which could be the Stroud/ Birmingham slick-back and there was some evidence that James Norwood’s barber had used the Brogan basin when giving him a short back and sides. Nors never fails to thrill and I am undecided as to what was the most spectacular – his goal or his new car.
Kids for free and the visit of the RSPB brought an extra dimension to the Carol Embrey suite which was buzzing from early on. Full marks to ‘Man of Kent’ and ‘Sledge’ known only to me by their forum names.
Collecting for Grimsby coach expenses was a fine idea. Saturday was a rewarding day but there was so much more to savour than just the match. On such days it is a privilege to be a Rovers fan.
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