By Nathan Bees
After the disappointment of seeing our game with Bury postponed last weekend I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing the Gas back in action tonight against Burton Albion.
Friday night football is unusual around these parts but as occasions they carry more excitement than a standard Saturday fixture. 3pm on a Saturday afternoon is when the majority of league fixtures should be played - that’s the way it’s always been and I hope it doesn’t change any time soon - but once in a while an evening game makes a refreshing change.
We have already played one Friday night home game this season and it was an absolute cracker. 6 goals were shared with York City in the FA Cup first round and it had everything an entertaining game of football needs: attacking football, wonder-goals and goalkeeping howlers.
It didn’t send Gasheads home happy because we’d have traded an enthralling game for a boring 1-0 win if we had the choice, but it certainly made for a good spectacle. If we can share the same thrill-factor of that game but still come out on top tonight I’ll be over the moon.
Aside from our clash with the Brewers tonight, I’ve been a little annoyed with the Alan Gow - Eliot Richards comparisons on our official forum recently.
I suppose it was inevitable given the two players were swapped in the same loan deal but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating to read.
For a start they are different players; it would be unfair on either player to directly compare them as they possess different qualities. Secondly, Eliot’s not here anymore and Alan is. Why do we keep obsessing about players no longer with us?
In all honesty it is way too early to make any real judgements on Alan Gow at Rovers and Eliot Richards at Exeter as both players have only played a couple of games for their new clubs.
However, I said last week that I thought we had the better deal and my opinion has not changed. Alan has something that Eliot has never really been able to muster in his Gas career and that is consistency.
He has proven he can reach a certain level of performance on a regular basis with Exeter City and he left the Grecians as their top scorer from an attacking midfield position. We should be excited by that.
People could argue that Eliot had shown greater levels of consistency this season, and tentatively I would agree, but he didn’t provide the goalscoring touch that we had been expecting him to deliver.
You can point at the fact he was being deployed on the flank behind a lone striker but he was still presented with several gilt-edged chances from that position and missed them. The open goal at home to Exeter and the free header from 4 yards at Morecambe spring to mind as being the worst.
Allow me to repeat what I said this time a week ago: Eliot Richards is not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. On his day he can be a game-changer but he just didn’t show it often enough in the blue and white quarters.
Like I suggested before, moving to a new club in a different environment may be exactly what he needs to kick on and truly establish himself in the Football League. I hope it is.
But, for the good of the team, let’s leave that to one side now – at least until the end of the season. We have some important games coming up and while these online debates may not be read by the players involved it isn’t sensible to sway other fans into having a negative perspective on our latest transfer dealings.
Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet and I hope that is the case tonight. If all goes well we can head into an away double header with renewed optimism.
Those two trips see us play teams at opposite ends of the league table but there’s absolutely no doubt that both games will be equally difficult.
Travelling to Scunthorpe United on a Tuesday night is an unenviable task at the best of times but when they are flying high in second place it becomes even more daunting. Still, we held them to a goalless draw at the Mem with a depleted squad earlier in the campaign and that should inspire us heading to Glanford Park.
Four days later we face the comparatively short trip to Northampton Town, who sit bottom of the entire Football League. Chris Wilder will have them scrapping and battling for every ball and if we don’t match them in terms of effort we will come unstuck.
We can’t afford to let that happen because if they build up a head of steam it drags all the clubs around us back down towards the bottom two. 3 points are always well received but if we could get them over a relegation rival then that would help us out massively.
There’s no need to worry about those matches just yet though. Burton Albion lie in wait for us this evening and all that matters in the next 12 hours is making sure we come out on top.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!