By Nathan BeesOur game-free weekend 7 days ago was horrible for supporters as we had to find something else to do to fill our Saturday afternoon, but for the team it was a timely rest ahead of the busy festive period.
Including the York City fixture tomorrow Rovers face five League Two games in 21 days, so it is important that the lads had a break to ensure they are fit and ready to go. It was a shame we didn’t have the chance to build on the 3-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers 10 days ago, but in the long run it will hopefully prove beneficial that we were without a game last Saturday.
With our batteries suitably recharged we can tackle our festive schedule head on, beginning tomorrow afternoon against one of the division’s strugglers. York have had a torrid season thus far and find themselves in the relegation zone on a paltry 12 points. They haven’t won in the league since September 5th and they have conceded 16 goals in their last four games, including being hit for six by Portsmouth a few weeks ago. To say things haven’t been going well for the Minstermen would be a massive understatement.
They appointed Jackie McNamara as their new manager in November and he proceeded to sign several players before the emergency loan window slammed shut, but up to now he has not been able to mastermind any kind of improvement.
It doesn’t mean we are in for a comfortable afternoon, though. We know from past experience that teams at the bottom can scrap their way to results when the pressure is on, and having had a significant period of time on the training ground with his players, McNamara will undoubtedly have York very well organised.
The inexperienced looking York sides dismantled by Accrington Stanley and Portsmouth recently are likely to be buoyed by the return from injury of three senior pros. For any side competing at the wrong end of the table it is important to have experienced players fit and involved as often as possible, so York will feel a lot more confident now Russ Penn, Dave Winfield and Luke Somerfield are back in contention.
We have played really well ourselves in the last couple of games and the mood in our dressing room will be positive ahead of kick off too. We have made our best start to a season in well over a decade and for that Darrell Clarke, his staff and the players deserve huge credit. I know it has been frustrating at times to see us lose so many home games, but overall we have performed fantastically. We are in a great position and there’s every chance we can go on to have a successful season.
When you consider the sides we were playing this time last year we have come a long way. It is important to bear in mind that we were a non-league club 12 months ago, so the fact we now find ourselves in the top half of League Two despite having a smaller budget than in previous League Two campaigns is quite frankly superb.
We aren’t the finished article — not by a long way — but we have a squad of players who are giving everything they have got to keep the club moving in the right direction and that is all we can ask for. With our continued support I genuinely see no reason why we won’t be in with a chance come the latter stages of the season.
Let’s get right behind the team tomorrow afternoon and make it back-to-back wins as we begin our festive fixtures.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!