By Nathan BeesI think goal-scoring hero Michael Smith epitomised the feelings of everyone connected with Bristol Rovers when previewing tomorrow’s clash with Wycombe Wanderers: ‘We won’t need any motivation for this one’.
He is of course referring to the fact our original meeting at Adams Park in August was abandoned after 67 minutes due to thunder when we were leading 3-1. Wycombe’s Health and Safety Officer believed lightening had struck the away stand and that it was in the best interests of the players and supporters to abandon the game.
A Lee Brown goal and an Eliot Richards brace were ultimately chalked off as a result and our first 3 point haul of the season was snatched away from us.
It’s likely to have had a detrimental effect on our season beyond what we originally thought likely and the players involved are still angered by the events of that day over 3 months ago. But, what better way to relieve the frustration we’re all feeling by allowing justice to prevail and claiming a resounding victory?
Mark McGhee and the team will be doing all they can to instigate that reality tomorrow afternoon and our manager believes we’re in a much stronger position now than we were back then.
It’s also fair to say we’ll be better equipped than we were a mere 7 days ago against Bradford City, as influential forward player David Clarkson is fit after missing the last two games with injury.
Tom Parkes, who was stretchered off in the dying minutes of our 4-0 defeat to Port Vale, has recovered miraculously enough to travel with the squad, whilst Matt Gill and Matt Lund are also back in contention for starting berths. Include Danny Woodards’ return and the signing of Guy Branston and we could soon be seeing the strongest 11 players from our squad taking to the pitch.
The 3-3 goalfest against the Bantams at the Mem last week is a good foundation for us to build on heading in to December and it means we can now concentrate on pushing back up the table.
Although Gasheads left the ground disappointed that we couldn’t hold on to our third lead, we could all appreciate the effort and commitment the players showed in the performance.
The one negative aside from the fact we didn’t win was the red card Wayne Brown was mistakenly shown following the ruck that took place in the final minutes. A late challenge by Seanan Clucas on James Meredith resulted in a mini-melee where although a fair bit of shoving took place, there was little evidence to suggest any red cards should be brandished.
We all feared that may be the result of Seanan’s foul but the referee baffled us all by not showing a card his way and instead dismissing Brown and Bradford’s Nathan Doyle. Whilst Doyle’s punishment was rescinded on appeal, Brown is forced to sit out this weekend’s game as we are unable to oppose his red card as it was the result of two bookable offences.
The team spirit in the squad is clearly still high despite the defeats we’ve suffered in recent weeks and that has to be encouraging as we look to resurrect our season.
When an impressive loanee like Tom Eaves feels at home here you know that there is still a good atmosphere amongst the players and, if we continue doing our bit in the stands, there’s no reason why together we can’t turn things around.
Reclaiming the 3 points we unfairly had taken away from us last time we played Wycombe will be the perfect start. To those going, help cheer the boys on to victory!
Let’s do it Gas.