By Nathan Bees
Unfortunately, as so often seems to be the case with Rovers, the last 7 days have not lived up to the joy of last Thursday afternoon’s Judicial Review verdict.
On the pitch we played out a lifeless 0-0 draw with Southend United at the Mem on Friday and followed it up with a poor 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night. If that wasn’t bad enough, TRASH decided to launch an appeal against the decision reached by Lord Justice Hickinbottom.
As a result we have dropped down to 20th place in League Two and face a further delay in building the UWE Stadium.
Thankfully the appeal has been turned down by the judge but TRASH now have another 7 days to go to the Court of Appeal, if they so wish. It remains to be seen whether they will choose to do that but given our luck you wouldn’t bet against it, would you?
In times like this there’s only one thing you can do: hope.
We all know that, despite our struggles in the last few matches, we will still be at the game tomorrow afternoon against Morecambe. We cannot go out onto the pitch ourselves and play in the quarters so all we can do is turn up, sing and hope that the lads perform to a level that will win us the points.
Bar the Dagenham & Redbridge shocker we haven’t lost too many games at home and it’s time for us to get back to winning ways here ahead of two big away games next week.
That’s not to say that I’m confident or happy about the way things are, mind you. I am as worried now as I ever have been - and that’s saying something. The fact of the matter is that we only have seven matches left to play and we cannot afford to be dropping points.
When we were in the bottom two last season it was at Christmas when there was still 20 fixtures left to play. It was a scary time and I can recall many people having resigned themselves to Conference football even then - but it was all still to play for.
Now we are dicing with death at a time that will almost certainly see us involved until the final day. There are only so many times you can get away with avoiding relegation before finally coming unstuck, so I just hope we have one more life tucked away somewhere.
I must admit to being very disappointed with our lack of movement before the loan deadline yesterday evening. The showing at Fleetwood highlighted several areas of real concern, both defensively and going forward, and the fact we haven’t brought anyone in to address it is worrying.
New faces would have given everyone a boost and that would have been perfect heading into the run-in. I have no doubt that the club tried to add to the squad but it is frustrating that we failed to do so when so many of the clubs around us in the table did.
Bury and Wycombe Wanderers (who we play next week) have made moves and Portsmouth managed to bring in Danny Hollands from Charlton Athletic.
Hollands is the type of midfielder who will be flying into a challenge outside his own penalty box one minute before trying his luck on goal at the other end 60 seconds later. It’s an astute signing and Portsmouth have given themselves a real chance of halting their alarming slide towards the relegation trapdoor by sealing his signature.
Pompey also took the decision to sack manager Richie Barker yesterday and have asked Academy boss Andy Awford to oversee first team action for the foreseeable future.
It could go horribly wrong because it will increase the pressure on their players but by the same token it could be the rejuvenation they need. I wouldn’t put it past the Fratton Park outfit to halt their slide in all honesty and that heightens the importance of our game there on Easter Saturday.
It’s funny really. Last summer people from both camps thought our end of season clash would be a promotion party but instead we’re fighting tooth and nail to steer clear of non-league football. Football is a mad world, eh?
3 points tomorrow will make things look a little rosier before we travel to Gigg Lane to play our game in hand. Obtaining them won’t be easy, though, as Morecambe are likely to visit the Mem with a defensive game plan similar to the ones Dagenham and Southend United deployed recently.
It may not be a pretty spectacle but that’s of minimal concern in the grand scheme of things. All any of us really want to see is for us to win a game, regardless of whether it comes courtesy of an own goal, deflected shot from distance or a toe-poke from 1 yard out.
Come on Rovers, it’s over to you now. Let’s get back to winning ways.
Up the Gas.