By Nathan BeesWhat is the best way to atone for an opening day home defeat? Win your next home game - something we did with absolute ease last Saturday.
The way in which we overpowered Barnet was fantastic to watch and it proves the two away victories that preceded it were no flukes. The side that pipped us to the Conference title in April arrived at The Mem and simply had no answer to what we threw at them. Our 3-5-2 formation saw us dominate possession once again and we had both the desire and the quality to make it count.
You cannot have too many grumbles when you win 3-1. The goal we conceded was a blot on our copybook, but in the grand scheme of things it was nothing more than a minor irritation. It came from nowhere and was not indicative of generally bad defensive play; it was just a lucky deflection that fell kindly to an opposition player. The likes of James Clarke, Tom Parkes, Tom Lockyer and Aaron Chapman were superb all afternoon and, pleasingly, they will only get better the more games they play together.
At the other end of the pitch things could not have gone much better. We scored three good goals through three different players and created plenty of other goalscoring opportunities. Jermaine Easter and Matty Taylor will take huge confidence from netting their first goals of the campaign - just as any striker would - and it will hopefully be the catalyst they need to start firing on all cylinders. They have both looked sharp in the last few games and I think an awful lot more is still to come from them, as well as team-mate Ellis Harrison.
It all bodes well, especially as our whole squad are proving they can make a positive contribution when they are on the pitch. Both Jake Gosling and Billy Bodin will have given Darrell Clarke food for thought as he finalises preparations for tomorrow’s game at Leyton Orient, as both players came on and had massive impacts on the Barnet win.
Gos had the difficult role of coming on to replace the impressive Dan Leadbitter (who picked up a massively frustrating hamstring injury 30 minutes in), but he settled into proceedings quickly and was at the heart of most of our attacking play. He doesn’t have the pace Leadbitter has (but then, who does?); his game is based on popping up in pockets of space and making things happen, which is something he did really well.
Bodin entered the match in similarly difficult circumstances, as he came on when we were 2-0 up and had just 10 minutes left to play. Whilst he will have been happy to enter the action with his team in front, there was no real need for us to commit men forward and thus we were not really going to play to his strengths.
He probably then feared the worst when Barnet went on to pull a goal back in the 85th minute. His involvement in the play that went on to restore our two-goal advantage, however, showed that he didn’t let it faze him.
Initially Bodin was dispossessed outside the box, but the tenacious striker won the ball back and made his way down the right wing. He then played a clever pass in-field to Chris Lines and, well, we all know the rest! Linesy drove into the box and laid the ball into the path of Taylor, who calmly fired past goalkeeper Graham Stack.
It put the game to bed, which was the most important thing, but it will also have given Darrell something to think about. All members of the squad have the ability to contribute and the performances of Gos and Bodin sends a clear message to those who currently have their hands on a first team shirt: we are good enough to take your place.
It means nobody can rest on their laurels heading into tomorrow’s fixture at Leyton Orient.
I look forward to every game, but I am particularly excited for this one as we go toe-to-toe with another side in very good form.
Orient boast an unmatched 100% record in League Two thus far and they will fancy themselves on their own patch, regardless of the fact they are playing a team who have won their last three matches. That could play to our advantage, though, because if we can nullify their offensive threats and quieten the inevitably buoyant home crowd, their players may begin to feel the heat. After all, when you are top of the league the pressure is always on; the fact the season is in its infancy doesn’t change that.
I am confident we have more than enough about us to cause Orient problems, and if we take the game to them as we did against the likes of Luton Town and Yeovil Town I don’t see any reason why we can’t come out on top. It will definitely be our toughest test so far, but we can go into it full of belief given the way we have bounced back from our opening day disappointment.
We have already sold over 700 tickets and with many likely to decide to travel tomorrow morning, a Gas following in excess of 1000 could well be cheering on the lads at Brisbane Road. Fingers crossed we will be celebrating a positive result that sees us move into the top 3 as we roll into September.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!
Twitter - @HarddToBeatt