10:04am Monday 31st March 2014
By John Light
DIG in for victory! That must be the rallying cry to our players. The next three games (at Woking and Barnet and home to Kidderminster) will determine whether the play-offs can be reached. We shall know in a week’s time!
These matches will all be about character, resolve, determination and desire. We have the ability, but can we add to that the all important winning mentality. It will be a real motivational challenge for manager Ady.
Following the long journey north on Thursday he was very cross the referee did not show mercy and abandon the game. The results show we are no longer pacemakers in the play-off race, and are now behind the front runners.
I share his feelings. Some years ago lightning caused fatalities in a match in South Birmingham. Living there I knew some of the players who participated.
At the inquest surface water was mentioned as a possible cause of death. There was plenty of that at Southport, and of course the conditions were the same for both sides. It was the element of danger that concerned me, as it did Stuart Broad, our T20 cricket captain.
Two cracking goals won the game for Southport, giving them a lead they never looked like losing despite the three Rovers’ substitutes (Wright, Klukowski and Taylor) all adding something to the Rovers’ performance and Wright was especially useful, his strength being of paramount importance in moving through the Southport swamp.
Perhaps had the conditions been anticipated he (Wright) would have been on from the start. Luke Rodgers is a player who likes the ball to run and conditions made that impossible.
Barry, Rodgers and Norwood were the players withdrawn, I would have kept on Nors. The great Brian Clough said – and we should never tire of quoting legends – “never substitute your leading scorer”.
We all know James can be exasperating but he can always cause problems. Unless he is injured keep him on the field! Who knows? He may produce a Norwood special.
It was not the night to criticise individual players, the conditions being so poor but one aspect of Rovers’ play in recent weeks worried me. Collectively the midfield is not functioning as a unit.
Players are caught in possession too often, leaving the back four exposed. The same thing happens when the ball is given away because of a misplaced pass.
How often in the Conference do you see teams given the time and space our midfielders seem to need? Paul Green, filling in on the left in place of Marcus Kelly, did well but central midfield was our Achilles heel.
Perhaps there is a case to be made for recalling Forbes and adding Brogan to the match day squad. They may feel they have something to prove and will add pace and vigour to the team.
As Ady looks to next season midfield must be one of his priorities. It is the engine room of the team and at the moment is misfiring. We need a warrior in the middle and some height in the middle.
Another area for Ady to think about is our away form. Fifteen teams have a better away record than us.
On our travels we are consistently below par. Is this not an area where character and resolve play a part, or are we still naive, and lacking the street wisdom to grind out a result? When it comes to contracts for next season these two problems must be considered.
The man-of-the-match award on Thursday was awarded by the travelling fans on the supporters coach. Sam Reid chaired a brief meeting and the nomination of Paul Green was readily accepted. His versatility and determination being ‘mentioned in despatches’. The convivial companionship on the coach and the expertise of driver Alan Boulton were the high spots of the evening.
There was one on field happening that is worthy of mentioning. When Barry left the field he was replaced by Klukowski, and it was to Yan he gave the captain’s armband.
It could have been by accident but I hope it was by design. Off the field Yan shows all the qualities of a captain and if he can show on the field leadership there is no one better suited to skipper the side.
It is horrifying to hear that FGR fans will have to pay £22 to watch the match at Barnet.
The new ground has to be paid for but penalising away fans should not be the way. It encourages mixing with the home fans which may not be a good idea.
I close by referring back to the next three games. We have the ability to win them but, as a team, do we have the resolve? The manager, looking ahead as he is, will be anxious to find out.
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