By Nathan Bees
There weren’t too many doubters among Rovers fans following our 3-game run where we had accrued just a solitary point having sandwiched a point at Morecambe with defeats against Rotherham and Northampton.
The faith in John Ward and the boys was justified with two superb home displays that saw promotion-chasing Burton Albion and Exeter City dismantled with ease. 5 goals were scored without reply and we are now 6 points better off in our highest league position of the season - 15th.
Whilst to outsiders that may not be anything to shout about it is an astonishing achievement for a side who were rooted to the bottom of the Football League at Christmas.
The transformation under John Ward has been clear for all to see and we are now going in to games looking strong, confident and capable of winning.
We are just 4 points away from the magical 50 mark that is considered an almost insurmountable total for the two clubs who eventually go on to get relegated and that’s testament to the progression the team have made. We can now start looking upwards as opposed to fretting about what is going on in the danger zone.
It’s always great to win football matches but it’s always a lot sweeter when you do it with the aplomb we have. We’ve made two teams who would be disappointed not to get promotion this year look incredibly average and have brushed them aside with ease.
I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m now going to matches with excitement and confidence, something I’ve not been able to say in what feels like forever. We arrive at matches with smiles on our faces and at the moment we’re leaving with smiles on our faces. There’s no better feeling.
The Exeter victory on Wednesday meant that the Grecians became the first side we’ve completed the double over this season. Only Saturday’s opponents Chesterfield and Torquay United, who we face on the final day, have the potential to be the other sides beaten by us home and away.
Paul Tisdale’s men were simply unable to break through our resilient defence and that’s despite the fact they boast the best away record in League Two. We shouldn’t really see any victory as a scalp in this division but considering our position in the table it probably is.
We were treated to two long range goals in the game - Ollie Norburn’s a fortuitous strike that somehow wriggled through Artur Krysiak’s legs and a thunderbolt from left-back Lee Brown.
For me it was one of the best strikes of the ball I’ve seen this season from a Rovers player but it can’t compete with the context of Norburn’s 35 yard stoppage time equaliser at Cheltenham, can it? The answer, I would imagine, is probably not.
Having said that Michael Smith’s pearler at Ipswich was a beauty and John-Joe O’Toole’s effort at Fleetwood has to be up there with the best too. I don’t think either of them match that goal at Whaddon Road but it doesn’t detract from the quality of some of the efforts we’ve seen this season. Hopefully there’s a few more left to come over the coming weeks.
Tomorrow’s game at the Proact Stadium will see us return to action less than 72 hours after our dispatching of Exeter but with the way we are playing at the moment that shouldn’t faze us.
The Spireites lost in midweek and will look to make amends in front of their own supporters but we don’t give much energy to fearing sides anymore. By the time 3pm comes around we’ll be ready to go again and I’m sure a good travelling contingent will head north to cheer the lads on.
Proud to be a Gashead.