Gasheads Talk Back – Notts County

March 12, 2006

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Yesterday saw a below par performance from a Rovers team clearly missing the trickery and pace of Agogo and lacking the punch needed to take all the points and continue the push for this season’s play offs.

With the pitch looking more like a golf course, Rovers were always going to be up against it with Agogo suspended for three matches after his kick out at Peterborough earned him a straight red card. Lack of match action after last Saturday’s Oxford game fell victim to the weather also di not help, but bad went to worse as the news filtered through just before kick off that Scott Shearer was suffering back spasms and had to be replaced by Steve Book at very short notice. It was looking like it was not going to be Rover’s day.

As if to prove the prediction right, after the opening exchanges, the visitors broke away and a long sweeping pass from just inside the Rovers half fell nicely to the head of Chillingworth, who headed over a stranded Tony Book to put County into the lead after just five minutes.

The rest of the first half hour was really a toothless affair from both sides, with County not really displaying much ambition to go any further in front. Striker Andy White, a target of Rovers some years ago, was really very poor and displayed all the qualities of the same player featuring on loan for Kidderminster last week at Forest Green. 

Finally with 30 minutes played, Rovers seemed to spark into life. Hunt was starting to win some midfield ball and Haldane started to cause the visitors problems in the defence. Walker was working his socks off, but getting little reward for his efforts, and Campbell was starting to break through. Rovers continued to press the game for the rest of the first half but went in a goal down at the break.

Rovers started the brighter after the break and 8 minutes in Lewis Haldane got the home side level. Haldane picked up the ball on the left flank. Confused, and convinced he was going to be flagged for offside, he stopped and looked up. Urged on by over 6000 Gasheads, he stepped inside and shot high into the ‘keepers left hand corner to level the scores. From here, it looked like the home side were going to go on to take the spoils, limiting County to very little of the ball and battling for everything.

Then disaster struck. With 74 minutes on the clock, Rovers had a free kick in a good position. County defended the kick well and released the ball down their left side to find Steve scoffham, on as sub to replace the lacklustre White minutes earlier. He beat both Bass and Hinton for pace and coolly slotted home past Book with just 15 minutes left for the Pirates to get something from the game.

 Despite a lot of huffing and puffing, throws and free kicks, Rovers just didn’t have enough in the locker at the end to even get a point from the game. This result severely dents Rover’s play off prospects and once again left fans frustrated their team were unable to win at home.

Gasheads Talk Back

After the match, I spoke with some fans to get their views on what they felt Rovers did well, could improve upon and who their man of the match candidates may be.

Alan Clarke travelled up from Bognor Regis in West Sussex, to watch the match, his first time at a Rovers match. “A disappointing display today from a team I have been hearing great things about” he said. ” Rovers seemed far too one dimensional with just Walker up front. I thought there were some good individual performances, but sadly it just didn’t seem enough to make those into a good team performance. My favourite player today was the captain James Hunt, and I was impressed with a superb goal from the youngster Haldane.”

Steve Cooper travelled up with his son Joe from Salisbury. The last time Steve came to see the Gas was that fateful night against Peterborough in our relegation season, but it was Joe’s first trip to a Rovers game. Despite this, Joe had done his homework via the internet and already knew who to watch for the Rovers side. ” I have been following Rover’s progress on SKY highlights since it was decided we were coming to this match. I am very impressed with some of Richard Walker’s goals, which in my view would not look out of place in the Championship”, said Joe. “I am really disappointed I have not seen Agogo play, as he looks an exciting polayer from what I have seen. I thought Hunt was man of the match, he seemed to be doing the work of both him and the number 20 Disley, who I thought had a very poor game.”

Dad Steve had the following observations. “Rovers limited County to just three actual attacks of significance, its such a shame that out of the three they managed to get two goals. Every time County did go forward, they seemed to have a lot of space to put the ball into, whereas when Rovers attacked, County closed them down very quickly and effectively. I thought Rovers attack was just not sharp enough on the day, and the bench looked like it offered no alternative in the way of attacking options. Despite that, it was a good turnout but if Rovers are seriously to try to get a play off place they need some reinforcements, maybe via the loan system.”

All in all, another day where we have made it hard for ourselves and not been helped by fate either. Plenty of work to do in preperation for the Oxford match on Wednesday, weather permitting, and then again on Saturday at Shrewsbury. 

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