By Nathan BeesRight, so I have just about thawed out after being frozen in the snow, sleet and hail that fell during the Accrington game last weekend.
I have a cold now so I’m not completely over the experience of being stood on an open terrace in such horrid winter conditions yet, but I have put the 1-0 loss behind me.
I was very disappointed at the time because we didn’t see the Rovers team we have so often had the pleasure of watching in away games this season. There was no real pace or flair in any of our attacking play and the minute we got into the final third we couldn’t muster a worthy shot, cross or killer through ball to trouble the home defence.
With that in mind we couldn’t really complain that we lost the game. I certainly don’t think Accrington were a lot better than us as it was a close game for long periods even though we had little punch in attack, but they were that bit more threatening going forward and it paid off for them.
Sean McConville scored a goal that was essentially just a cross that everyone in the Rovers team seemed to leave until the very last second, by which point it was already nestling in the bottom corner. From that point of view we were unfortunate because it wasn’t a well-worked goal or a piece of individual quality; it was a complete fluke. However, our defending should have been a lot better than it was and that is ultimately the reason why we conceded.
On the long journey home I dwelled on our lacklustre showing. I came to the realisation, though, that it was a positive sign we were all so frustrated with the performance and result. We now go into every away game thinking and believing that we can win — or draw at the very worst — so when we don’t achieve it everyone feels quite flat.
Fundamentally I think it is a good thing because it shows just how well we are performing this season, but it is important that we don’t get too down when we experience a poor result.
It isn’t the end of the world to lose narrowly away to a side who are in the play-offs, have lost just once at home all season and will likely be a few points clear of us after playing their four games in hand. Was it frustrating? Yes. Is it a disaster? No.
All things considered, we shouldn’t be too down going into tomorrow’s clash with AFC Wimbledon at The Mem. We have shown we are capable of responding positively to setbacks and there is no reason why we can’t do the same again tomorrow in front of our own supporters.
Neal Ardley’s side have been on a roll since our Boxing Day stalemate and now find themselves flirting with the play-off places. They lost at home to lowly Yeovil Town last weekend which has halted their progress somewhat, but they have a good squad of players and will fancy themselves to put in a good performance against us tomorrow.
Sides like Wimbledon will see Rovers as the side they can most easily catch over the coming weeks because, of the top 7, we are the only ones not to have any games in hand. From that point of view Adebayo Akinfenwa and co. will be bang up for it, as they will see it as something of a 6 pointer.
Okay, it may be slightly too early to label it a genuine 6 pointer, but there is no denying it is a crucial game for both teams. We can pull further away from a side pushing to break into the play-off places if we win, and the Dons will gain ground if they win.
It is the latest in a long line of difficult fixtures against sides in the top half of the table for Darrell Clarke and the lads, but we have acquitted ourselves well thus far and should feel confident about our chances.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!