By Nathan BeesI’m sure I can’t have been the only Gashead leaving the Mem last Saturday breathing a huge sigh of relief. Not only was it a hard-fought win but it was a necessity on the back of four consecutive defeats in both league and cup.
We displayed all the qualities that a successful side needs - spirit, determination and unity and, although it wasn’t our most impressive performance aesthetically, it got the job done.
They say it’s a hallmark of a good team if they can win games when they play poorly and whilst we can’t apply that to our inconsistent squad just yet it’s certainly an encouraging sign.
What’s more, there are other reasons why we can be more optimistic going in to our next few games as captain Matt Gill, right back and last year’s player of the season Danny Woodards, and centre back Cian Bolger, are all closing in on returns following long-term injuries.
The trio are certainly first team starters on their day and will provide additional strength and quality to the team. This will provide much needed competition for places to ensure nobody rests on their laurels.
We can all speculate as to where we could be now if we’d had a fully fit squad of players from the beginning of the season but we didn’t and the important thing now is to look ahead.
Mark McGhee didn’t work up until the August transfer deadline to sign Bolger to be back-up, he was brought in to improve our team. Woodards wasn’t given the accolade of POTY for no reason, it’s because he combines the defensive quality and attacking threat a top, modern day full-back possesses. We didn’t win more games with Gill in the side last year than without him by coincidence, it’s because he steadies his team mates and instills calm when it’s needed most - when we’re in front.
To have all 3 missing at the same time isn’t just gutting but a complete freak occurrence. Not many clubs can say that the injury lists they have had have been anything like as bad, or as lengthy, as ours this term.
McGhee, like all of us, will be delighted he can call on them again very shortly. I think only once we’ve seen our strongest 11 enjoy a run of games together can we form a fair judgement on them and our management.
I’m confident we can begin to develop some consistency now and I eagerly anticipate that happening, hopefully beginning tomorrow against Rochdale.
We travel to Spotland 4 points clear of the bottom of League Two whilst our opponents currently occupy a play-off place. Under John Coleman ‘Dale have picked up some good results so far although their home record isn’t the best considering their lofty position.
We didn’t return to Bristol from Rochdale with any points the last time we travelled north in 2011 but I’m sure Gasheads can remember our smash and grab during the 2006-2007 promotion season.
Former Rochdale striker and Gas legend Rickie Lambert netted against his previous employers in a 1-0 win that even now I’m not sure how we earned. We had our fair share of luck that day and owed a lot to the brilliance of Steve Phillips in the Rovers goal.
Lambo didn’t score many in his first campaign with us but he made a habit of grabbing goals when we needed them most and this particular effort was no different. I’d take a repeat of that result this weekend, with a different scorer, that’s for sure!
Beyond tomorrow’s clash we face another tough old away journey to play second placed Port Vale on Tuesday, before welcoming Bradford City to the Mem in a week’s time. Oh how our season would look so much more positive with 6 points on the board before we take on the Bantams!
Up the Gas!