By Nathan BeesLife is never dull at Bristol Rovers and the week since our 1-1 draw with Kidderminster Harriers last Saturday has been no different. We have said goodbye to another player, welcomed two new strikers and have seen one of our summer recruits finally play his first full 90 minutes in a Rovers shirt - just in time to feature against Chester tomorrow.
Got all that? Good.
I was halfway through writing this week’s blog before the flurry of transfer activity that took place yesterday, so upon hearing the news I had to start all over again last night. I am not complaining though as this is most definitely good news.
We have finally strengthened the one area that has really been holding us back this season and we can now, hopefully, push it up a gear. I have no doubt that had we been just a little more clinical in front of goal in the previous 20 games we would be sitting pretty at the top now because we have been strong elsewhere on the pitch. Our ‘goals for’ column has been the only thing letting us down.
Top spot is obviously a long way off right now but we give ourselves a chance to rectify our lack of goals and that stands us in good stead as we head into a busy period of games in the run-up to Christmas.
Let’s go back to Monday when we waved goodbye to a summer signing that everyone had high hopes for. Striker Jamie White was Darrell Clarke’s first addition in the close-season and as a result of his impressive strike rate at previous side Salisbury City it was widely anticipated that he would produce the same kind of form in the blue and white quarters.
Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. In his brief spell with Rovers he failed to find the back of the net and had to make do with a place on the subs bench most of the time.
While you could argue that White wasn’t given many opportunities to impress, it was difficult for Clarke to justify dropping other players to accommodate him as we have been picking up points. Clearly a lack of game-time prevented him from really developing full match sharpness but the reality is he wasn’t up to the required level of fitness at the very start, unlike other players in his position. From that perspective I don’t think he can have too many complaints.
It was definitely in the best interests of both parties to part company and move on. The fact White didn’t demand a pay-off from the club is testament to his professionalism and attitude because you can guarantee many players in his position will have sat on a wage until the end of their contract. Thankfully White is not your common modern-day footballer and I admire him for agreeing to terminate his contract with no cost to Rovers so he can get his career back on track.
I hope he is able to get back to the type of form he expects from himself at Sutton United. Good luck, Jamie.
With another forward departing it became even more important for us to strengthen and we did just that yesterday.
First through the doors at The Mem was Dagenham & Redbridge’s Bradley Goldberg, who has signed on an initial one month loan deal.
I must confess I know very little about the 21 year old but his goalscoring record at Conference South side Bromley last season was very impressive. He is described as a forward that likes to play off the shoulder, and that is good news considering the type of player our second signing is, as he is likely to have a few flick ons to feed off!
Nathan Blissett, the man who scored Kidderminster Harriers’ goal against us last weekend, has signed a loan deal that will become permanent in January for an undisclosed fee. I won’t have been the only one who was impressed by his energetic performance for Kiddy on Saturday - he was pacey, direct and at 6 ft 4 had an obvious aerial presence about him - and I am looking forward to seeing him in action for us.
He is a little bit different to any other option we have up front and he will bring a new dimension to our attacking play. With Matty Taylor and Ryan Brunt you know exactly what you are going to get as their style of play is easy to identify, but Blissett has the unpredictability factor that defenders hate. He can cause problems in the air and on the ground and that makes him a nightmare opponent for back fours across the division.
In theory it all looks rather exciting ahead of Chester tomorrow, doesn’t it?
It would be naive to expect the world from the team and our new recruits straight away but if it doesn’t give us fresh optimism and confidence then I don’t know what will.
On a personal level I am also excited to see another new face pulling on the quarters at the Deva Stadium this weekend, even though he has been a Rovers player for well over two months.
Angelo Balanta finally returned to match action after injury in midweek and impressed both Clarke and Marcus Stewart as we defeated Cinderford Town 2-1. It has been a long time coming but it seems the former QPR winger is now in contention for first team action, meaning he may well feature tomorrow afternoon.
He is a skilful winger and I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing him running at full backs and delivering crosses to his team-mates in the penalty area. MK Dons fans were raving about him following a couple of loan spells there and that was at League One level, so in the Conference a fully fit Balanta should prove to be a real match winner for us… fingers crossed.
And that, ladies and gents, brings me to the end of this week’s blog. Here is to 3 points returning to Bristol with the lads tomorrow evening.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!