By Nathan Bees
In the last 2 weeks Rovers have enjoyed the Fairytale of New York with a 3-1 win over Rotherham, a stoppage time winner to defeat Barnet in front of a season’s high of 8500 spectators and a last-kick equaliser away to Cheltenham to claim a battling point.
We remain unbeaten in 4 matches and we’re now 3 points clear of the relegation zone. It’s been a pretty good 14 days I think it’s fair to say!
Buoyed by the previous victory at Fleetwood, and the news regarding the Sainsbury’s planning application, we headed to Rotherham in good spirits. It was always going to be a tough game against a side who are fighting to earn promotion to League One and I don’t think too many Gasheads could have predicted we’d beat them as convincingly as we did.
We were solid defensively, absorbing everything that the Millers threw at us, whilst applying our own pressure with quick paced counter attacks.
When debutant Ryan Brunt was fouled in the penalty area the opportunity was ours to head in to half-time with an important 1-0 lead and Lee Brown duly converted for his first goal of the season. When Claude Davis was sent off a couple of minutes later the game was as good as over, not that we knew that at the time.
It was a nervy half-time interval in anticipation of a Rotherham onslaught in the second period but our fears were soon shown to be unfounded as they didn’t trouble our back four at all.
Encouraged by this we went on to score a second through Ellis Harrison - his first senior goal - and Joe Anyinsah to wrap up the points. David Noble did pull one back for the home side but it didn’t tarnish what was a superb result.
We were in complete control of the game and we looked a real team. The togetherness of the players on the pitch, as well as the 400 supporters who made the long trip north, was clear for all to see. There was a real sense, for the first time in a long while, that we were all in this together.
Our toughest test of John Ward’s return to the club was to come 6 days later as we welcomed European football icon Edgar Davids, his goggles and his Barnet side to the Memorial Stadium for some Friday night football.
Whilst the Bees weren’t riding high at the top of the division having spent large sums of money like our previous two opponents, they arrived at a packed ground as one of our relegation rivals. 3 points were vital to both sides and there was an expectancy everywhere, deliberate or not, that we should win the game.
With our largest home league attendance since hosting Norwich City in League One a few years ago, Ward’s men were having to deal with new pressures as they entered the field of play.
The question on everybody’s lips was: how will they deal with it? Nobody was sure as Ward’s men played without such pressures in the previous two games away from home.
As it turned out we had nothing to worry about, although it did take a while for us to get the job done and claw ourselves out of the relegation zone in the process.
When Harry Crawford cancelled out Fabian Broghammer’s opener a minute from time, it seemed for all the world that our only reward for another spirited display was a single point. That was until Ryan Brunt slid home an injury-time winner to lift the roof off the Mem and send Gasheads home delighted.
It was probably a little harsh on a Barnet side who played some tremendous football but, as we are all very aware, football is a results business and that’s exactly what we got.
The name of the game on the back of our third successive win was maintaining our form heading in to two tricky away games with Cheltenham and Oxford.
We always take fantastic followings to both Whaddon Road and the Kassam Stadium but the recent feel-good factor around the club was always likely to inspire even more to attend. There were 1400 Gasheads at Cheltenham and you could hear them from the first minute until the last, just as you’d expect.
Unfortunately the home side took the lead on the stroke of half-time and managed to hold on to it for the next 45 minutes.
However, that didn’t see them home as in the last few seconds of additional time, Oliver Norburn smashed home a screamer from fully 35 yards to rescue a deserved draw.
Emotions were running incredibly high, so much so young striker Tom Hitchcock jumped in with the fans after the ball hit the back of the net! It’s for goals and celebrations like that that make the effort and money we invest in football worthwhile.
‘We have our Rovers back’ reverberated around the ground and we had smiles on our faces as we exited. What more could we have asked for in the circumstances?
Another army of blue and white will descend on Oxford tomorrow afternoon hoping to see the boys earn another positive result to drag ourselves further away from the dreaded drop zone.
As our gaffer says, we need to guard against complacency now and not get carried away with everything that has gone on in the last few weeks. We need to remember that Oxford have play-off ambitions this year so we’ll need to be on our game once again to get anything from it.
Having helped the lads pull the game back from the jaws of defeat on Tuesday evening at Whaddon Road, we need to do our bit again tomorrow to ensure we get the 3 points this time. More of the same passion and spirit please Gasheads!
Let’s continue to do this together.
Up the Gas!