By Nathan BeesThe win at Lincoln City last weekend was one hell of a result given the setbacks we faced during the 90 minutes.
Considering we had a soft penalty given against us and then conceded an equaliser for 2-2 just before half-time, we showed great mental strength to withstand home pressure in the second period and go on to deservedly score a late winner… after missing a penalty!
It was a thrilling game for the neutral but more importantly it was the perfect result for Rovers.
In the context of our season it could well prove to be much more than just 3 points as it will hopefully act as a springboard for further success away from home. We no longer need to dread playing away from the Mem as we’ve shown now that we can score goals and win matches, so confidence will be high heading to Southport next weekend.
Attentions first turn to tomorrow’s fixture at home to Woking, though, and the threat the Cards will pose after their excellent start to the campaign. Garry Hill’s men currently sit in the play-off places and come in to the game looking to put the defeat to Torquay United on Tuesday (their only loss so far) behind them.
Among the Woking ranks is a man who will be familiar to Gasheads having enjoyed (well, maybe not enjoyed) a loan spell with Rovers a couple of seasons ago.
Striker Scott Rendell has started the season in blistering form and is currently joint top of the leading scorers list, so he will be looking to do something he didn’t achieve in his time with us - find the back of the net at the Mem.
Rendell’s strike partner Giuseppe Sole has also begun the campaign brightly and is a dead ball specialist. Earlier this month he scored a terrific 35 yard free kick for Woking at rivals Aldershot Town and he will fancy himself anywhere within similar range against us I’m sure.
While we need to be wary of the dangers Rendell, Sole and the rest of their team possess in and around our penalty box, we should focus on our own game and believe we have what it takes to come out on top.
Both defensively and offensively we are improving on a weekly basis and you only have to look at the stats from our recent results to realise that.
At home, for example, our defence has only been breached on two occasions in five matches and it was Tuesday night’s visitors Nuneaton Town that notched the most recent one of the two.
Our 3-1 win over the Boro was more than comfortable overall but conceding a poor set-piece goal to a side that offered little in the way of attacking threat made life a little tense at 2-1.
Thankfully our collective response was outstanding and we reasserted our authority on the game by claiming a third goal through Jake Gosling. The Gibraltar international, on his return to the side, calmly slotted home with his left foot on a night of firsts at the Mem.
Gosling scored his first Gas goal, Tom Parkes got his first of the season with a headed goal after just two minutes and then the moment we have all been waiting for came along as Matty Taylor also got in on the act.
The striker took down a ball from Lee Mansell and leathered home his first Rovers goal at the beginning of the second period. Obviously we enjoyed and loved every goal we scored but there was particular delight amongst supporters when Taylor found the net and you could see it meant the world to him.
I have no doubt he will go on to score regularly now as he has all the attributes to be a very good striker for us. He is good with the ball at his feet, possesses good movement, makes intelligent runs and he’s shown in the last 7 days that he can set up goals and score them as well.
Darrell Clarke said on the day he signed that he would be a worthy Bristol Rovers player and I think we’ve all seen proof of that in his performances so far. Long may it continue!
The great thing about our goalscoring so far this season is that we haven’t been relying on just one man to provide them; ten different players have got their names on the scoresheet. That’s a major positive because if we had just one man scoring the goals and he suffered an injury we would be in big trouble.
As it is we have a goal threat from all over the pitch and over the course of the season it will be a huge advantage to us, especially if we can start converting more of the chances we create.
The most important thing, of course, is ensuring we pick up enough points to sustain a challenge and that means taking things a game at a time. I don’t like using football cliches but I think it is absolutely the right approach to adopt as we need to avoid looking too far ahead and taking our foot off the gas (if you pardon the pun).
With that in mind lets look forward to Woking and put all our energy in to getting a result tomorrow afternoon. Although I feel it will be a tough game I have every confidence that our improving team can record a positive result and add to the optimism that is growing amongst supporters at the moment.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!