By Nathan Bees
There was a sense of disappointment amongst Gasheads walking out of Valley Parade on Tuesday evening but there was no anger that we had lost.
A 4-1 defeat is never easy to take but there was a media pressure that should Rovers get a positive result, a play-off place was within reach. That, unfortunately, must have been felt by the players as well and we were a mere shadow of the side that has comfortably dispatched of the league’s best teams in recent months.
Yes, the loss of John-Joe O’Toole has played a significant part in that, but the unfortunate injuries to Ellis Harrison and Oumare Tounkara, on top of the long-term absentees we’ve already got, proved too much for our young squad to overcome.
Bradford were strong, creative and in control of the match from the outset - it just wasn’t going to be our night.
Whilst we all felt slightly gutted that we’d lost our chance at the play-offs, we couldn’t be too upset. The boys have been magnificent since the turn of the year and John Ward has transformed us from relegation certainties in to an upwardly mobile top-half team.
Ward’s remit was to do whatever it took to keep us in the division and he achieved that with aplomb, guiding us to the top of the form guide. It was difficult to envisage any sort of survival over the festive period when we were bottom of League Two, so in my eyes we’ve already overachieved in relation to the progression we’ve made.
I’d urge any Gashead who departed Bradford expecting more of the boys to sit down and take everything into consideration. It wasn’t a good performance - John will know that and the players will know that.
What we must take from the game is the reality that we aren’t quite the finished article yet and that the belief we were ready to gatecrash the promotion bid was slightly naive. It was a step too far for us this year but that’s not to say it will be the same in 2014.
The spine of the team is in place and if we can add to that with a few new additions over the summer then there is no reason why we can’t be celebrating like Gillingham are in 12 months time.
For the remaining 3 games it makes our role as supporters a little easier. We no longer have the sickening fear of relegation or the anticipation of a play-off push. Now we can just go to the game to enjoy watching the boys in blue and white play football - what a novelty that will be.
Some complain that the meaningless games at the end of a season are not exciting but we’ve seen what Rovers can do when the pressure’s off, so why shouldn’t that continue now?
Goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall has already claimed that good form at the end of one season can carry on in to the beginning of the next, so there is still motivation within the squad to go and win football matches.
Factor in those fighting for new contracts and there are plenty of interesting things to watch develop over the coming fortnight.
Life’s never dull as a Gashead so let’s enjoy the relative peace and quiet before it all fires up again over the summer and in to August!
Up the Gas!