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FAN BLOG

27 March 2015

By Nathan Bees

I would like to think last Friday's victory over Aldershot Town at The Mem shows we have got over the disappointing results we picked up in the previous two matches and are now back in business ahead of the six game run-in.

You would struggle to call it free-flowing champagne football, but who cares when you win 3-1? We were menacing in attack and well organised, and that was all that was required to claim victory. Jermaine Easter was outstanding on his debut, scoring a great goal and demonstrating a first touch that many players could only dream of, Chris Lines did well on his return to The Memorial Stadium and Will Puddy was composed in goal after earning a recall to the starting XI. 

I left The Mem in buoyant mood and felt as though we had been reinvigorated ahead of the final month of the campaign. It was exciting to see Easter in the quarters performing to the sort of level we all hoped to see from him and it added another exciting dimension to our play. The Aldershot defenders didn't know what to do with him; they tried man marking and being overly aggressive, but he just shrugged them off and continued to cause problems. It was fantastic to watch.

When you consider he is nowhere near full match fitness yet and will only get better the more games he plays, we have a striker on our hands who truly is a class above. It will be interesting to see how his partnership with Matty Taylor develops as well, because if he can free up more space for our number 10 to play his natural game then he will flourish as well. 

Factor in the incredible impact Ellis Harrison has been making off the bench, Nathan Blissett's one in three ratio since signing from Kidderminster Harriers and the fact goals have been spread throughout the whole team this year, we have plenty of firepower heading into the run-in.

The only slight concern recently has been that we have started to concede a few goals, and whilst that in itself is inevitable over the course of a season, it is uncharacteristic of our strong defensive unit. We have 18 league clean sheets, the highest in the division, and yet we have let in some sloppy goals over the last few weeks.

They are only isolated periods of slack defending within the 90 minutes, but it will have been enough to give Darrell Clarke something to think about. Our back four have been outstanding so I don't think there is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed, it is just a case of ironing out individual mistakes. 

All in all, we are in very good shape heading into what is a massive fixture against Macclesfield Town at Moss Rose tomorrow. The Silkmen have an excellent home record and will be looking to get one over on us after the 4-0 hammering we handed them back in December. 

They have gone off the boil somewhat in recent weeks and have slipped out of automatic promotion contention, but John Askey will have them fired up for our meeting in front of the BT Sport cameras. 

On paper it looks like our toughest remaining fixture so if we can come through it successfully then we can go into our Easter weekend double header full of confidence. That isn't to say our other remaining matches won't be difficult - I said a week or two ago that you cannot underestimate anyone at this stage of the season - however we are one point off the lead for a  reason and that is because we are currently the second best team in the division.

With tomorrow's game being a 12.30pm kick off, we have the opportunity to go top and put Barnet under even more pressure than they already are. If they know before their game [away at Alfreton Town] that they cannot afford to slip up, then it could weigh on the minds of the players starting the game and influence Martin Allen's tactics. 

It is a scenario that could continue next week as well, given that we play on Good Friday and Barnet don't play until Saturday. That and the fact they have 24 hours less than ourselves to recover for the Easter Monday round of fixtures could give us a big advantage.

You may think that is clutching at straws slightly but I wouldn't mind betting it has an impact. At the very least it makes life that bit more difficult for Allen's side, although it is fair to say they will be happy with the fixtures they have left between now and the end of April.

I have a feeling the title race is going to go right through to the final day of the season and while that will mean it is a nerve-wracking few weeks for the three sides involved, I am thoroughly enjoying being part of a promotion push for once. 

Let's see how we go at Macclesfield, the first of our six remaining 'cup finals'.

Come on Rovers, come on you blues!

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