Hatters Report – Gasheads Talk Back

February 19, 2006

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Nearly 6000 fans saw Rovers go into a two goal lead yesterday and then crumble during the latter stages to hang on for a point, leaving home fans infuriated with their home form once again.

The Hatters, struggling close to the bottom of league two, never gave up the fight despite being two goals down away from home. The early exchanges were quite srcappy, as is the norm at the Mem, with a number of Rovers players recently complaining about the pitch being quite firm and bumpy. Whilst the visitors barely threatened, the home side took almost half an hour to get going before they made anything like a reasonable assualt on the Stockport goal.

The breakthrough finally came in the 36th minute, when a Richard Walker header trickled over the goal line, albeit helped by the fumbling of the County ‘keeper Spencer. When the goal was awarded he was furious and argued with the referee and assistant and ended up kicking the ball away, earning himself a booking for his petulance.

Rovers were finally in the ascendancy now, with the pick of the chances being Hunt’s fizzing shot just wide of the post and Walker going close once again with a headed effort which struck the post.

Half Time – Rovers 1 Stockport 0

Within five minutes of the re-start, Rovers went further ahead, after a flick from Walker in front of the Bass Terrace came off a County defender and the linesman on the near side flagged for a handball, giving the referee an easy decision to award a penalty to the home side. With the recent decision to keep Richard Walker as Rovers penalty taker, he made no mistake and doubled Rover’s lead, scoring his 16th goal of the season, leaving him currently second highest scorer in league two.

[image2] Despite the mounting pressure, County and indeed their very vocal fans, just wouldn’t give up and on 68 minutes forced a goal having beaten the offside trap. Rovers were just not convincing enough, despite carving out the better breakthroughs and as the away team used all three substitutes and made the tactical changes they needed to, the determination started to shine through as the home side tired. Singh was menacing down the left for County and caused Rovers many problems as they piled on the pressure looking for the equaliser. The Rovers defence seemed to be holding firm, but with the visitors winning countless corners and free kicks, it only seemed a matter of time before they would equalise.

Then came one of the game’s most controversial incidents. Rovers broke and the ball fell to Agogo. He dribbled his way into a good shooting position and on the second bite of the cherry the goalward shot seemed to strike the Stockport defender on the arm or hand. The nearside linesman gave nothing and the referee waved play on. It brought almost every Gashead to their feet in disbelief, as it seemed the officials were the only people in the stadium to not see what appeared to be a blatant hand ball, which should have been a penalty to the home side and surely the end of any resistance the Hatters would have left to offer.

[image3] Then came the second incident which will be debated for quite some time. As County forced the play a save from Shearer fell to le Fondre with just two minutes to go, he seemed to handle the ball into the net. Again, none of the officials saw anything wrong and so there it was, Rovers undone yet again by a late goal, and a debatable one at that.

A mention must go to the Stockport fans on the day. They were magnificent, all 350 of them and if anyone deserved anything from the day it was them. As for the penalty that never was, having been at Edgeley Park back on a cold December evening and seen Rovers awarded a dubious penalty, I suppose these things are cyclical, but the fact remains, after the late loss to a poor Cheltenham side on Tuesday, what was on display yesterday was not  what Gasheads were looking for after the midweek robbery.

Gasheads Talk Back

I spoke with Gasheads after the match and here are a few of their comments.

Phil from Bradley Stoke said; ” Despite Rovers being the home side and going two goals in front they never looked like they were in control of this match. Once again, we had to rely on the rock of the defence and my man of the match Steve Elliott who was everywhere.”

Richard from Filton said; ” We looked like we had been on a coach joureny for a few hours as we didn’t seem to get going for over half an hour. We simply must start bossing visiting teams at home and not letting them get into us like they are doing with annoying regularity. My man of the match was Richard Walker who absolutely ran himself into the ground, and I thought he was going to bag a deserved hat trick.”

Steve from Horfield said; “Having seen Rovers doing so well on the road this year, it is frustrating to see us so poor at home so often. Most of our home wins just haven’t been convincing enough for my liking and I just wish Junior would pass the ball more, as I am sure we would get more goals if he did. I thought Elliott did really well today and he deserved better than the disappointment he had to endure today.”

Mike from Yate added; “We showed once again how weak our midfield can be at times today. With so many passes going astray and the ball coming straight back, the defence were put under pressure again and again, and it was only a matter of time when we were going to concede. I was disappointed today at just how weak the midfield was at times today and how poor our distribution was. I thought Walker was the consumate professional today and got was his hard work merited in the two goals he scored.” 

Richard from Hanham said; “After what I saw here Tuesday night and today, if we really want to challenge for promotion we are making it hard for ourselves. On the evidence of both Tuesday night and today’s performances, I am now not so sure we will make it.”

Andy, also from Yate, summed up how most felt; “Having watched Rovers versus Stockport, I’m feeling a little numb after the 2-2 draw in which the Gas in some ways, squandered 3 points but were not helped by the refereeing officials whose performance, I felt was absolutely appalling. The Gas were certainly not playing as they have done and errors in the midfield need sorting out quickly if we are to stand any chance of making the play offs. I’ve heard some criticism of Scott Shearer, personally I think he is a good goalkeeper that is being left exposed because of defensive errors and it is always easy to blame the goalie for any points conceded. What is unforgivable about this particular match was the blatant ‘handball’ by Stockport in their box which the assistant could not have failed to see and should have resulted in a second Rovers penalty.”

Interviews with fans take place after games home and away that I attend. If you would like to take part, please make yourself known, or send us your views of the match how you saw it here.

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