By Nathan Bees
What a huge difference a win makes. Our points total looks healthier and I’m sure Rovers fans everywhere thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday evening.
Twitter has been a nicer place and it’s great to see many positive posts on the official forum too, because there has been plenty of criticism on there recently.
Fortunately most people realised they saw a comprehensive Gas victory and a good all-round team performance.
We all like a moan, I know I do, but if you’re happy to do so publicly then you should also be prepared to praise the team when it is deserved. In recent months I have been quick to groan on Twitter but I took great pleasure in tweeting positively last weekend.
It wasn’t a fortunate victory or an odd-goal game, we outfought AFC Wimbledon from start to finish and put them to the sword.
You may recall in a recent Fan Blog that I talked up David Clarkson and he justified being singled out thanks to his goal in the first half. It was a peach and a welcome reminder to those who may have doubted him that he has a touch of class with the ball at his feet around the box.
It gave everybody a boost when his strike hit the net and served to settle his team-mates and the Gasheads inside the Memorial Stadium.
Generally the atmosphere was terrific and the entertaining sideshow that was Wimbledon’s George Porter provided many laughs on the terraces. He spat his dummy out at every refereeing decision and it proved to be a schoolboy error - he was picked out by Gasheads every time he touched the ball.
There was vociferous chanting and booing in a bid to get on his back and it worked perfectly as he was totally ineffective for the duration of his time on the pitch.
Rovers supporters can make a huge difference when they intimidate the opposition, just ask Jennison Myrie-Williams who was slaughtered and hauled off in the first half when we played Tranmere Rovers a few years back, and we certainly nullified the threat of tricky winger Porter. He was substituted after an hour of the game - ‘job done’.
Tom Parkes scored his first home goal with a close-range header and Matt Harrold slipped but still managed to convert his late penalty (he’s better than Beckham!) to seal the victory.
It’s easy for results to blur reality and when you’re losing you understandably tend to focus on the negatives. John Ward’s belief has never wavered though and the facts are that a teenage striker is currently being played in midfield, two other forwards are being used out wide and we have one of the youngest back fours in the Football League.
When you look at it from that perspective, the team have done a very good job recently.
There hasn’t been as many wins as we would have liked but losing only once in 8 games is an impressive run considering how we are blighted by injuries and suspensions. It offers me great hope for the rest of the season.
Nobody will be getting carried away, one look at the league table is enough to keep even the most optimistic Gashead grounded, but if you can’t take confidence from our mini-run of form then perhaps you’re being a little harsh on our young team.
The Crawley Town meeting in the FA Cup second round tomorrow will be an interesting match up given the recent performances of both clubs. First and foremost the Red Devils are in League One and command respect, but they’ve been playing poorly recently and that should offer us encouragement.
John Gregory has this week been appointed as Richie Barker’s successor and he will look to reignite their season and get them to bounce back with an FA Cup win over lower league opposition.
On paper they will be favourites, and rightly so, but the form book goes out the window in cup competitions and we should fancy ourselves against anyone at home.
Both camps will be quietly confident and that should make for a good tie as it’s finely poised. We have an opportunity to progress to round three and land a Premier League side, so there’s plenty at stake. I think we’d all enjoy a new year trip to Anfield, wouldn’t we?
Keep dreaming ladies and gents and get down to the Mem tomorrow and support the boys, it should be a good one.