By Nathan BeesThere really isn’t a lot I can say today that I haven’t said many times before over the last few months.
Inconsistency and individual errors are costing us dear and, as a result, we are not justifying the hype that we can finish in the top seven. My opinion on the matter fluctuates; one week I go home thinking we are good enough to beat any side and go on a great run of form, then other times I leave a game fearing we aren’t strong enough to be serious contenders.
There isn’t anything to be scared of in this division. We compete with every side we come up against and 99% of the time you watch us play and think: ‘this could go either way’, which is both concerning and encouraging in equal measure. It suggests that we aren’t a million miles away from being a good team at this level, but the fine margins in both penalty areas are what’s letting us down.
At the moment we are relying solely on Matty Taylor to find the back of the net and whilst he’s doing a really good job, he can’t do it all by himself. Our defenders aren’t chipping in with any goals and our midfielders aren’t contributing anywhere near enough either. Considering the number of chances we create and set-pieces we earn, that really isn’t good enough.
We were undone at Crawley Town last weekend primarily because we didn’t defend well in the first quarter of an hour, but also because we didn’t convert enough of our clear goalscoring opportunities. It was a similar story at The Mem on Tuesday night. Stevenage scored an early goal as a result of sloppy defending, defended in numbers from then on and hacked many of our shots off the line, then got a second goal from nothing in the second half.
It is so frustrating because I don’t think we were deservedly beaten in either game, but we didn’t do enough to warrant 3 points either.
Darrell Clarke has come out and told his players in no uncertain terms that he will not stand by and label his side ‘nearly men’ forever. He wants to finish in the play-offs this season as he has faith in his squad and is incredibly ambitious, so watching the lads commit the same errors over and over again will be driving him mad.
I think we are more than capable of putting a run together that would see us sneak into the top seven over Christmas, but only if we can cut out the silly errors. Defensively we need to get back to how we were earlier in the campaign as that is what is going to give us the platform to go on and win games. Going 1-0 or 2-0 down before starting to play is going to see us finish in the bottom half, not the play-offs.
It would be a huge confidence boost to get back to winning ways at Exeter City tomorrow afternoon. Another huge number of Gasheads will descend on St. James’ Park and a good performance would restore faith and confidence heading into Tuesday’s meeting with Wycombe Wanderers.
Paul Tisdale always makes his side incredibly difficult to beat, which means we will need to be on our game from the first whistle to get anything. A quick start is exactly what we need, because we don’t often lose when we lead in games. An early goal would give everyone a huge shot of confidence too, and could be exactly what we need to get ourselves going again.
Let’s see how we go.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!