Slow and steady wins the race? by Ollie Neno
On the 30th September 2006, now Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez scored Chester’s second in a comfortable 2-0 home victory over the Gas, adding to an 18th minute strike from Kevin Sandwith.
The defeat meant Rovers had lost half of their opening twelve fixtures in League Two - around a time when it’s generally thought the table starts to take shape and teams can begin to be judged.
Scrambling around the depths of the bottom professional tier with only three victories to their name, things were looking bleak for a then Paul Trollope led Rovers, with escaping the unthinkable drop to non-league probably the most pressing thought in most Gasheads minds.
However, as we all know, the 06/07 season turned into one that every fan who was lucky enough to witness it will remember for an awful long time, and for all the right reasons.
Following that match at the Deva Stadium against the, now sadly dissolved Chester City, something clicked. Things started to fall into place. Players found form. A newfound confidence swept through the squad. The fans believed. What happened next, as they say, is history.
Having suffered a similarly poor start to this season under Mark McGhee, winless after five and with only two goals in the ‘for’ column compared to twelve in the ‘against’, it would be easy for us to let our heads drop.
But rather than looking across at other clubs for inspiration as examples of teams that have had a successful season after a bad start, such as Swindon last year who comfortably took the League Two title after winning only one of their first five, it’s easy to forget that our own most recent promotion began in such a downbeat fashion.
Now whilst it’s far too premature to claim that this current squad can achieve the same sort of heroics as the one back then, history shows that it’s also too early to write the season off.
For those of us who can’t regularly attend matches such as myself, heavy defeats to the likes of Morecambe and Yeovil at home naturally are a cause for concern, however the opinions of those hardy few who took to the Mem terraces for the JPT game suggests there is reason to be optimistic.
Undone by two cracking Ed Upson free kicks and a Sam Foley goal on the break as we threw everything at The Glovers, McGhee and most in attendance seem to feel that the 3-0 score line was one that was more than harsh on Rovers.
With two disallowed goals our selves before Yeovil had even opened the scoring, the first of which looks a dubious decision on the replays, it would appear that the bad luck from Wycombe followed us back on the coach and reared it’s ugly head again on Tuesday night! And anyway, when have we ever done well against 10 men…
Whilst I personally feel that the squad is still one or two players short if we are to make a real push for the Play Offs this season, which I think McGhee will address when the loan window opens, there’s still enough quality in the squad as it stands to win matches in this league.
Once fully fit and settled, Dave Clarkson should be a player who can prove to be a match winner for us in this division, having been successful at higher levels than this in the past.
We also have the likes of Danny Woodards and Garry Kenneth to return from injury in the hopefully not too distant future, the former of which was our player of the season last year and should shore up our defence alongside the impressive looking Cian Bolger.
More so than in any squad I can remember in the past, we also appear to have a nice blend of youth and older heads, most of who have a point to prove.
Nothing is decided in early September, so lets get behind McGhee and the boys, and hope that come May, this will be another season where slow and steady won the race.