Trollope Comes Of Age?

October 24, 2005

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Saturday’s home match against Wrexham was a pretty forgettable affair. For the football that is, until the last 3 or 4 minutes anyway.

We were privileged to have real Gas legends at the Mem, signing the new Rovers book. There is an article and pictures elsewhere on the site. 

Rovers were up against it as soon as the referee blew his whistle to start the match. As Aaron Lescott stooped to tie his bootlace, Rovers lost the ball from the kick off and were short handed in defence. Fortunately it came to nothing but it was an early warning.

Wrexham were fielding ex Gas loan player Danny Williams who was in no mood to be sentimental all afternoon and had a good game at the heart of the visitor’s midfield. Alongside him was Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex, who was also looking sharp and doing his best to cause Rovers problems.

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Rovers fielded a side with two changes with Campbell on the bench and Leary sidelined through suspension. The home side made an encouraging start and were playing a good passing game, with Agogo chasing every ball and giving the visiting defenders little time on the ball. Gibb was soon providing crosses but Rovers were unable to capitalise with Elliott narrowly missing with a headed effort from the right.

Wrexham’s Spender was looking lively and he nearly got the Dragons front man Ugarte in on 12 minutes and but for Shearer’s bravery and Lescott’s clearance Rovers would have been a goal down. Wrexham had clearly come for a point fielding a spoiling five-man midfield, but Gibb and Lescott were starting to get behind and get crosses in though the front pairing just couldn’t convert them into goals. Later in the half Ryan picked up on Wrexham striker Walter’s mistake to send Carruthers clear down the left. He got a good ball in for Disley who was breaking into the box but went down under a challenge from Wrexham defender Bayliss. There were halfhearted appeals for a penalty but the referee was having none of it.

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Rovers continued to make good approach play, but the final ball was not coming off quite right and it was looking less and less likely to be Rover’s day with both Walker and Agogo unable to get off shots that would trouble the Wrexham ‘keeper. Fifteen minutes before half time the visitors nearly took the lead but for tackles from Hinton and Elliott on danger man Ugarte, who was left needing treatment.

After the break Wrexham made a change to replace the injured Ugarte with Robbie Foy. The start was a very stop start affair with a lot of involvement from the referee for minor offences resulting in free kicks and disrupting the flow of play we had seen in the first half. [image4]

Just before the hour Disley lost the ball and when he tracked back in an attempt to win it back, took the heels of the Wrexham man and found his way into the referee’s notebook for the first booking of the afternoon. From the resultant free kick, the ball was floated over the Rovers defence and fell to Lawrence the Wrexham defender who gratefully blasted the ball into the Rover’s net for what may be his easiest goal he will ever score. It seemed harsh on the home side, who up to this point had made most of the running and whilst maybe didn’t deserve to be in front, certainly didn’t deserve to be behind.
As the game progressed, it seemed we had seen it all before, as the possession was good from Rovers in the main but lacking that all-important final ball into the box. Agogo went close with a curling shot, then Disley also had an opportunity to equalise but didn’t get sufficient purchase on his headed effort which flew wide.

Rovers were certainly looking the brighter side now and with 20 minutes to go the ball broke to James Hunt who had Ingham diving to his left to keep the visitor’s lead intact. Just after this Trollope made his first change of the afternoon, bringing on Forrester for Carruthers who had run his socks off. Soon after, Wrexham sub Foy went close with a stinging shot Shearer need all his athleticism to keep out. With time running out for the home side, you could hear the frustration in the crowd as Ryan over hit a cross, which cleared everyone. Shortly after, again Disley had a chance but sliced wide.

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Trollope decided he had seen enough and chose to make his second substitution of the afternoon bringing on Haldane for Agogo, who again had run his heart out for little reward. This was a decision that proved very unpopular with the home fans who booed what they thought was a bad choice.

Soon  after, Gibb put a cross in for Hinton who headed wide and was then replaced by Campbell. Almost immediately, Elliott looked to have scored but his header was somehow cleared off the line by the Dragons defender Spender.

With the clock now showing 87 minutes, it was now or never for Rovers and Forrester delivered a superb cross from the left right on to the head of Richard Walker for a Rovers equaliser to send the home fans wild.

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Rovers were almost immediately under pressure again themselves with the tricky Foy sending Shearer down for a low save from a shot from the edge of the box. With Wrexham really clinging on now, their frustration was obvious and when Jones pulled back Hunt as he broke from Rover’s midfield and then kicked the ball away, it left referee Pat Miller no choice other than to show the second yellow of the afternoon. [image7]

 

Despite everything, the crowd seemed to sense it was a game the Gas could still win and urged their team on. Deep into injury time, Rovers won a corner in front of the Bass end, and after taking it short Campbell delivered a sweet ball right onto the head of the unmarked Richard Walker for his second goal of the afternoon to send the fans into wonderland.
All in all a below average performance from the Pirates, but good character was shown to get the three points when they seemed so unlikely. [image8]

Since the game many have had the opportunity to reconsider their reaction to Trollope’s substitutions. Forrester added a new element late in the game down the left, and with Agogo having run himself into the ground, replacement Haldane’s running to the near post  left Walker with more space, which he was able to finally exploit. Trollope showed bravery with his choices and deserves the plaudits for seeing what many in the stadium could not when he made his substitutions.

Maybe it is time for people to trust his judgement after what turned out to be his shrewdness on Saturday. Even if he does not get the job full time, Gasheads have a lot to thank him for during his tenure, as attendances are going up and there is a new optimism in the air thanks to him, John Anderson and the renewed efforts from the squad who are showing their obvious faith in his abilities.

Young Pirates mascot for the match was Charlotte Matthews pictured with Junior Agogo.

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