By Nathan BeesI know 1-1 was probably a fair outcome, but I left The Mem feeling pretty flat last Saturday.
On the face of it a 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle is not a bad result; they were top of the league at the start of the day and boasted the best away record in the division. However, the fact we were 1-0 up with just a few minutes remaining made the fact we only ended up with a point absolutely sickening.
Darrell Clarke’s second half substitutions changed the flow of the game and when winger Billy Bodin nodded us in front in the 79th minute, I thought we had scored what would prove to be the winner. For all Argyle’s possession around our penalty area they rarely tested Steve Mildenhall, so once we broke the deadlock I thought we were well on our way to securing a massive 3 points.
We had a couple of good chances to double our lead in the immediate aftermath of Bodin’s opener, but it just wouldn’t go in for us — Chris Lines slid a ball just wide of the post and Tom Parkes saw his header from a Lines corner clawed off the line by Pilgrims’ goalkeeper Luke McCormick. We looked like the side most capable of scoring the next goal if indeed there was going to be one.
So, when Josh Simpson popped up with a well struck 88th minute leveller for our visitors I crouched on to my knees scarcely able to believe what had just happened. I had already begun to envisage how the league table would look with us just 6 points behind Argyle in the automatic promotion places, and then all of a sudden we were back to square one with nothing changing other than the fact we had fallen further behind Oxford United and Northampton Town.
As always I stayed and applauded all the lads off the pitch at full time because they gave it their all and put in another great performance that so nearly toppled the league leaders, but I must admit I felt like we had just lost the game. I imagine they all felt the same too given how close we came.
I found it hard to be philosophical at the time as we had victory in our hands and lost it right at the last. However, now I have had time to get over the initial disappointment and put things into perspective, I can appreciate that it was a solid point against a really decent team. We can take plenty of positives from the fact we more than matched a Plymouth side that topped the League Two table before kick off, which sets us up nicely for a tricky trip to Accrington Stanley tomorrow.
Hands up those who just muttered the words: ‘Who are they? Exactly!’. We all do it, even though it really isn’t relevant anymore. Accrington have always been a bogey side for Rovers on the road — I don’t think we have won there before — and this season in particular they are looking very good indeed. In the play-offs and just four points behind us with four games in hand, they are serious contenders for promotion to League One.
All things considered we look set to be in for one of our hardest away games of the season, but we are in very good form ourselves and I have to say I am feeling pretty confident. I believe we can beat any side in the division on our day, and with the players full of confidence right now a victory at Stanley is definitely not beyond our reach.
We look resolute at the back and always pack a punch in attack, so we head north in really good shape. 3 points would be a huge boost to either side — for Rovers it would extend the points gap between the two clubs and keep us within touching distance of the top 3, whilst for Accrington it would obviously narrow the gap and hand them the initiative with a fair few games in hand.
I am not expecting a Gas invasion in the same way we witnessed at Oxford a fortnight ago, but from what I have read a large number of Gasheads are going to make the long trip to Lancashire to support the team. The lads repeatedly tell us it makes a huge difference when they see so many of us following them around the country, so hopefully we can do our bit once again tomorrow and help them do the business.
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!