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Club News


3 April 2015

By Nathan Bees

I am of the opinion that the Conference title won't be decided until the final day, but the Easter weekend could go a long way in determining who eventually goes on to win it.

Alfreton Town's dramatic late penalty equaliser against Barnet last weekend kept Rovers in automatic promotion contention, and with the opportunity to regain top spot tonight we are well placed. All the pressure would then be on Barnet ahead of their game tomorrow afternoon, which is something I am sure they could do without.

Grimsby won't currently feel the same heat as they have only just established themselves as genuine contenders, but they will undoubtedly feel nervy too if they know they have to win to stay in contention.

On paper all three of us will feel as though we have a winnable pair of Easter fixtures, however given the way this season has played out so far, you wouldn't be surprised if at least one team slips up.

It is going to be an interesting few days.

As Darrell Clarke has rightly reiterated several times over the last couple of months, all we can do is look after ourselves. He is absolutely right as it is easy to get carried away by what is going on elsewhere, so as a club we should focus all our attention on facing Chester this afternoon.

They may be comfortably positioned in mid-table with nothing tangible to play for, but they will arrive at The Mem keen to show a big crowd just what they can do. You can be sure our players won't be underestimating Steve Burr's side though, as they shocked us to claim a point in the reverse meeting back in November despite trailing 2-0 midway through the second half.

Whilst it was bitterly disappointing at the time, we now know full well that we cannot afford to take our foot off the gas against this Chester team. They may not have proven it often enough in recent weeks but they can pack a punch in attack, and that is something we will have to be at our best to combat today.

I am confident - as always - that we can win the game, but we have to strike the right balance between taking the game to our opponents and staying tight at the back. On occasion recently it has felt like we have forfeited one for the other, yet earlier in the season we seemed to have the perfect harmony between defence and attack.

It is easy for me to sit here and say we need to rediscover that fluid style of play and I know the players and coaching staff will be working tirelessly in a bid to achieve that, but it would be great if we could just in time for the run-in. We are a good side even when we aren't in top form, so imagine how formidable we would be if we hit our stride now and picked up some momentum.

The key to it all is having our experienced players stepping up to the plate and putting in the sort of performances we know they are capable of. Having Lee Mansell available after his two game suspension is a huge boost and I would not be surprised to see him start alongside Chris Lines in the middle of the park.

They did start together away at FC Halifax Town, but due to the state of the pitch and Manse's obvious fear of picking up a tenth yellow card, they couldn't play their natural game. Hopefully now on a flawless Mem pitch with no suspensions looming, the two of them can form a good partnership.

With Ellis Harrison and Jake Gosling back from international duty as well, Darrell Clarke has near enough a full squad to choose from. Both players have the potential to make an impact on the game, although I don't anticipate either of them starting as their youthful exuberance is probably better suited coming off the bench.

Abdulai Bell-Baggie is another who will want to make a positive contribution after signing for the club last week. From what I have heard he is a direct, pacey forward player - the type who would cause tiring defences all sorts of problems - so I imagine he too will be in line for a second half substitute appearance as opposed to a starting berth.

Either way, he must be hoping it is written for him to score the winning goal on his Rovers debut in front of 8000 Gasheads. What a way that would be to introduce yourself!

The atmosphere should be fantastic from the start this afternoon and if we get the result we all want, I can't wait to be part of the 2604 Rovers fans heading to Aggborough on Monday. What a day that has the potential to be with more of us set to be at the game than Kiddy fans.

I read a comment on Twitter this week that said it must be rare for a club below the Championship to take 2500 fans to an away game (as Grimsby are to Alfreton) and still not have the best following in the division on the day.

It is a great point and it tells you everything you need to know about Gasheads - we are faithful and true.

Come on Rovers, let's make this an Easter to remember.

Up the Gas!

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