By Nathan Bees
Rovers fans will have been delighted yesterday morning to read that winger Kaid Mohamed had joined the club on loan until the end of the season from Port Vale.
He’s an experienced player who has been involved with League Two promotion bids in each of the past two seasons, so he joins us knowing what is required to win games in this division.
I’m pleased we’ve signed a proven wide man, particularly one of Mohamed’s ilk, as we have lacked pace and power on the flanks for a very long time.
His directness and desire to beat a man has been admired by lower league fans for a while because when he’s on top form he’s almost unstoppable.
Knowing the type of player he is and the experience he has I feel John Ward deserves a lot of praise for being able to bring him to the Mem. His unsuccessful loan spell with Wimbledon before Christmas probably put off potential suitors from making a move this month but Ward must feel he can get the best out of him.
Having played for a host of West Country clubs to stay near his home in Cardiff, Mohamed won’t face the difficulties new signings usually have in settling and adapting to a new area. Touch wood, this means he can hit the ground running from the very start, beginning this weekend against Newport County - a game he already knows he’ll be involved in.
All in all I believe he is a positive addition to our young squad and I am looking forward to seeing him in action. Time will tell if he can rediscover his scintillating Cheltenham Town form for Rovers but judging by his interview he is itching to get going and show Gasheads what he can do.
No serious pondering needs to be done by Ward to work out where Mohamed will slot in as we have no senior wingers at the club.
Since Mustapha Carayol left to join Middlesbrough in 2012 we have lacked a genuine wide player and neither Ellis Harrison or Alefe Santos have shown the levels of consistency required to deserve regular first team slots.
Both young players have shown flashes of attacking flair in their appearances in the past 12 months but not enough for us to rely on them week in and week out.
Mohamed’s signing shouldn’t suggest to either player that they aren’t good enough to become Bristol Rovers first team regulars. The pressure is now off their teenage shoulders and this should help them to grow and improve at their own pace.
A period of time away from the spotlight of league football and learning from a player like Mohamed who has established himself as a feared lower league winger in recent seasons should be a positive thing for them.
There is still a void up front that urgently needs filling before the end of January. I like all of our attacking players individually and think that they contribute something to the team when they play but they have simply do not score enough goals.
I’m sure Ward, Marcus Stewart and Darrell Clarke think the same but for the good of our club we need to look past that and seek to improve the situation. The odd goal here and there from our strikers is not good enough and while it remains the case we can’t move up the table.
I have explained in weeks gone by that I think part of the reason we don’t score often is our formation with just one up front - it’s simply not attacking enough. However, we do waste a large amount of the chances we do create with wayward finishing.
Chairman Nick Higgs has announced this month that we will be attempting to sign 2 players so bringing in a striker is still very much a priority by the sounds of things. The sooner it materialises the better equipped we will be for the rest of the season.
Tomorrow’s meeting with Newport is set to be a cracker. It’s got rivalry, atmosphere and 3 important points up for grabs for whoever is brave enough to gamble for them.
Justin Edinburgh has moulded a good group of players together, including many who have donned the quarters in years gone by, and the blend of youth and experience is proving a success. They are gunning for the play-offs and tomorrow is as big for them as it is for us.
Their fans certainly think so; the Exiles have sold out their allocation of tickets and an amber army will descend on north Bristol intent on enjoying the day.
We rose to the challenge, on and off the pitch, when the 1000-strong Portsmouth support came to the Mem in December and now we must do it again.
When we lost 1-0 at Rodney Parade (a scoreline that did flatter us) we actually created a chance to equalise in the last minute despite putting in our worst performance of the season. If we can do that when we play badly then imagine what we can create if we play with tempo and ambition.
Enjoy it Gasheads. It’s not often that we get to play in big games in League Two.