By Nathan Bees4 points from two League Two games is by no means a bad return, but I left The Mem on Tuesday night disappointed that we hadn’t managed to beat Notts County.
While the Magpies have some good players and kept their shape well during the game, I felt a though we had done enough to score a goal and claim a first home league victory since August. It was a contest of few real goalscoring opportunities, but we were the only side interested in attacking and were unlucky not to get a winner.
The returning Billy Bodin struck the crossbar with a shot that looked destined to hit the back of the net, and both Mark McChrystal and Jermaine Easter went close with efforts that drifted narrowly wide. We had 13 corners, numerous free kicks in dangerous areas and forced goalmouth scramble after goalmouth scramble… it just wasn’t going to happen for us.
Those sorts of games are always frustrating because you get an inkling at half-time that it is going to end in disappointment. Everyone could see that County had no intention of committing men forward and a goalless draw was inevitable unless we could find the luck that eluded us in the first half. By about the hour mark I turned to my friends and said: ‘this is going to be 0-0’ and lo and behold that was exactly what happened.
It wasn’t a case of us being flat like some may have expected given the energy zapping 100+ minutes we played at Mansfield Town last Saturday; we actually kept the ball a lot better and looked more of a threat in the final third. The only difference was we took the few chances we created when they came at Field Mill but couldn’t get our finishing quite right on Tuesday.
Given the number of goals we have scored recently I am confident it is just a minor blip though. With bottom of the table Newport County our visitors tomorrow, it is a great opportunity for us to get back to winning ways and, hopefully, score a few goals.
Warning: County are not going to be pushovers. Their results have steadily improved since John Sheridan took over as manager a few weeks ago and that is underlined by their impressive midweek win at Wycombe Wanderers. Last month opposition supporters were saying Newport were the worst side in the division, but under Sheridan they have steadied defensively and are beginning to pick up points.
Anyone who thinks it will anything other than a really tough game are in for a big surprise. People tend to get carried away (and possibly a little arrogant too) when they see that we are playing a team at the other end of the table and automatically think that a 4-0 win is a given. Thankfully Darrell Clarke and the team are not of such a mindset and will definitely not be underestimating our Severnside rivals. You have got to remember that nothing is won on paper; you have to earn each and every point in professional football. We all remember drawing at Dartford and Alfreton Town last season, don’t we?
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t be confident about our chances tomorrow though. We can beat anyone on our day and if we play as we have been recently I genuinely do think we will win, but we are going to have to work damn hard for it.
We have struggled to score goals at home because teams come to The Mem and keep men behind the ball. Newport may do the same, in which case we may find it difficult once again. However, I think we showed enough on Tuesday to suggest that with a bit of luck on our side we can break teams down on our own patch, so we just have to keep plugging away until it comes. An early goal would be fantastic as Newport would have to come at us a little bit, but if it doesn’t we may have to bide our time and remain patient.
Given that it is our first Saturday home game in a number of weeks I am hopeful of a good crowd, especially as we are facing a team considered a local rival. Derby games always have an added spice to them which should make for a good atmosphere. We never disappoint when it comes to getting behind the lads, but I fancy we will be in even better voice than normal with a decent away following to bounce off.
3 points please, Gas.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!
Twitter - HarddToBeatt