Mansfield – Gasheads Talk Back

March 26, 2006

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With the loan transfer window closing this week and nobody coming in, it is clear our management team are content to make do with what they have and prune and add where neccessary ready for next season. Any moves for short term fixes seem to be off the agenda of the Rovers management duo as they look at the bigger picture and the longer game.

This week also saw Jamie Forrester go out on loan to Lincoln, a rather strange decision as Lincoln are still our play off rivals. On the one hand, it is good to get those wages off our wage bill, but it does beg the question why have we left ourselves short of cover in that area? We have to have faith in our management to make the right decisions and we all hope this is one of them.

[image2] After poor form from Rovers in the last three weeks, the improbable but not impossible play off hopes received a jump start with a comfortable home win against Mansfield yesterday. The home side welcomed Agogo back after his three match ban and Rovers looked a different side for it. Was it because the three back to back losses made play offs look unlikely and thus reduced the pressure? Was it that the return of Agogo was all that was needed to inspire the players and re-install the confidence they have so obviously been lacking of late? Or maybe Lennie and Trollope read their players the riot act after the below par performances of the last week in an effort to get more from their team. The Rovers side fielded revealed few changes, save for missing Campbell who was too ill to play.

[image3] The home side were quick to set about their business, and it was clear from the way Rovers went at the visitors that they meant business. In the opening minutes a chance fell to Agogo, but the ball slipped away from him to safety to the releif of the Stags defence. Rovers continued to pile on the pressure and got their reward, when on 14 minutes Igoe picked up on a loose ball on the edge of the area, turned the ball onot his right foot and slotted home into ‘keeper Pressman’s top left corner to give Rovers the lead and net his first goal for the club. Within 3 minutes, the advantage was doubled as Igoe played a lovely through ball to Walker who ran on to it, pushed it past the keeper and gave the home side a 2-0 lead, his 18th of the season.

Rovers continued to press and went through a real purple patch where they looked likely to score every time they came forward, with Disley and Elliott going close and Hinton going on some mazey runs forward. Confidence was high now, with Igoe and Haldane working both flanks well. Moments before half time Rovers so very nearly made it three. Haldane picked up a loose ball from a poorly struck clearance, but was unable to beat the experienced Pressman when it all looked so easy from the stands. Agogo was clear and only needed a sideways pass, but with the goal looming Haldane saw his second goal of the season right in front of him.

[image4] Half time was scheduled to have a martial arts demonstration but sadly due to the ever worsening conditions it was decided to postpone this for safety reasons. We hope to see it soon.

After the break, it was more action, though the visitors seemed to have a bit more purpose about them now. They started to get quite a bit of ball, something Rovers denied them the first half, and were able to put some moves together to challenge Rover’s authority on the match. Even though they were enjoying much more posession now, Scott Shearer was rarely called upon to make any kind of a save and the Pirate’s defence looked comfortable. James Hunt picked up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Barker. Shearer did get called on to push away a Barker effort, but in the main could have brought a good book out with him to keep him amused for most of the game.

As the match wore on, so the Mansfield attack withered and Rovers started to play themselves back into the ascendancy, with some smart passing and moving. They seemed to win corner after corner and efforts went close from Igoe, Disley and Haldane. Agogo had a golden chance with Pressman stranded 15 yards off his line but just blasted it high, wide and not so handsomely over the corner of the upright. Substitute Ali Gibb had a chance to seal the match near the end as a rebound from a Haldane shot came to him, but he hit the shot just off target  to the relief of the Stag’s defence.

[image5] On a terrible surface worsened by the relentless overnight rain, both teams struggled to get a grip on the pitch let alone on the match itself, though it was entertaining and well managed by the officials. Sammy Igoe was voted man of the match, but in truth there were a number of players who were equally deserving of the award.

277 Mansfield fans maybe deserved better than they saw, but it was a tonic to Rovers to beat a team who have not lost in 8 matches. Only time will tell if it is too late to help get them into the play offs this season.

Gasheads Talk Back

After the match I spoke with Gasheads to get their views on what Rovers did well, what they could improve on and what nominations for man of the match.

Simon from Fishponds  said:

I though we looked the stronger side by far today. We went at them at the off and looked like scoring a hatful today. I dont think 6-0 would have flattered us. Sammy Igoe was massive for us and at the heart of many of the good moves forward, chipping in with a brilliant goal and a great pass for Walker. Definitely my man of the match.

Steve from Gloucester Road said:

Igoe was the main man today and showed the doubters exactly why our management wanted him. He was the centre of all the intelligent forward play and even chipped inat the back when needed. Haldane also showed a great attitude today and deserved a goal, though he has to be more aware of when his colleagues are in good goal scoring positions. Hinton impressed with some of his runs deep into their defence too. Igoe man of the match for me, though Haldane a close second.

John from Staple Hill saw it like this:

After a week with decent weather, it was typical that on a day off we would have such a miserable wet rainy day today. I though both teams coped well with the conditions and it was good to see Rovers keep a clean sheet at home. Shearer had little to do, but when called upon made good saves to protect his goal. Aaron Lescott used his pace to good effect today and supported the attack well. He let nothing pass and got Haldane away time after time with good early balls out of defence. As we have come to expect, Hinton and Elliott stood firm in defence, but for me the star man was Igoe who had such great vision today.

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