By Nathan Bees
Walking out of Whaddon Road on Tuesday evening I didn’t really know what I thought about the point we had just picked up.
So many times balls were played across their 6 yard box begging to be tapped in by someone at the far post but playing just the one up front meant that there were a lack of bodies on hand to score.
Having said that, you just have to look at our matchday squad to see that we are decimated by injuries and suspensions right now. John Ward could only name 5 substitutes, all of whom were kids, and strikers David Clarkson, Eliot Richards and Mitch Harding were having to be deployed in midfield positions.
It’s a desperate time - the team is having to be changed every week and we’ve not once had a fully fit squad to choose from. With that in mind a point away from home isn’t a disaster, especially when you consider that Cheltenham Town had a very strong squad available to them.
I’m sure most philosophical Gasheads will have travelled back down to Bristol feeling proud of their young team but frustrated not to have seen us pick up a much-needed victory.
It’s a horrible situation to be in.
We need to start winning soon to avoid being cut adrift from those above us, but what can you do when [deep breath] John-Joe O’Toole, Chris Beardsley, Alefe Santos, Ryan Brunt, Mark McChrystal, Garry Kenneth, Jim Paterson, Danny Woodards, Seanan Clucas, Fabian Broghammer and Ollie Clarke are/have been injured?
That’s 11 players we don’t have available who could all stake a claim for a regular first team spot.
Those who are citing the tactics as the main reason we are failing to win matches clearly aren’t taking into account the bigger picture.
Don’t get me wrong, I would much prefer to see us take games by the scruff of the neck and go all out to win them rather than sit back and hope to catch the opposition on the counter attack, but could it not be considered sensible to play more conservatively with a young, inexperienced team?
Senior professionals are missing and teenagers are having to take their place, it wouldn’t be fair on them to demand attacking football and leave them vulnerable to being picked off by experienced opponents who have the know-how to win football matches.
It’s a difficult balancing act for Ward and his coaching staff and I don’t envy the decisions they are having to make at the moment.
It’s not for me or anyone else to tell Ward how we should be playing, he should be left to do his job and we all know that whatever decision he makes has been made with the best interests of Bristol Rovers at heart.
Football supporters these days believe they know more than professional managers which, when you think about it, is ludicrous. The vast majority of fans have zero experience in the game and yet preach about playing football this way, that way etc.
Of course we all gain an understanding of what makes for effective football and thus form opinions on tactics, formations and the like, but do any of us really know as much as a man like John Ward, who has been in football management for over 20 years? Of course not.
Every decision is made having considered all options and I hope we continue to support him, it’ll give us a much better chance of turning things around.
A win tomorrow would provide everyone with a timely boost. We’re not a million miles away from having enough about us to achieve it. On paper it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a goalfest but there’s no reason why it cannot be the fixture that hands us our first home victory in 3 months.
A weekend win please, Gas.