Good afternoon all and welcome to everyone reading this on the Rovers website.
Saturday sees us at the beginning of what are three very important fixtures for us. It will be a different mindset for the players in these next 3 weeks as I am putting pressure on them to deliver results , whereas in the last week or so we haven’t been expected to achieve wins and therefore the message to the boys was that the pressure was off. Players react very differently when they have pressure on their shoulders but I know now that the squad we have can handle that pressure and hopefully that will show in our performance today.
The last 2 games have been fantastic in terms of performance and effort, however the result has not matched it. Football is a cruel game and we have seen that on Saturday at Maldon. Going down to 10 men that early in the game and then conceding twice when we were by far and away the better side was a kick in the teeth. Some of the players have said if the same scenario would have occurred 6 weeks ago they would have gone on to lose 6 or 7 nil. So the response from the players when we conceded the second was superb. I was delighted for Julian and Ash to score to bring us back to 2-2 as their performances individually deserved a goal. They both played an integral part of what was a great team effort. After securing a well deserved point it was heart breaking to see an attempted cross sail into the top corner in the 90th minute to rip that point away from us. The players were gutted and rightly so, however I expressed how proud I was of them for a monumental effort. Our passing at times was a joy to watch and be part of. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve and that was certainly the case.
To that end we were gutted when it was confirmed that Ash Hawkins and James Stevens couldn’t play in the Grays game on the Monday due to their registration forms being delayed in the Christmas post. I honestly feel if they were in the side then we would have won the game. Defensively we played brilliantly , with Nick Skelton in particular having an outstanding game. We created chances but as has been the case we just haven’t been clinical enough in front of goal. Again though there were far more positives than negatives and we always knew it would take us a few games to sort the teams positional awareness out and change to a style of play that fits the personnel we have.
Saturdays game against Waltham Abbey is another tough one. No one at the club needs reminding of what happened the last time the two teams played and there is certainly a wrong to be righted today. I was not shocked to see Abbey involved in two 3-2 games over Christmas as their matches always seem to deliver goals. Steve Cawley is a player who we will need to be aware of. He has a great midfield goalscoring record over the last few years and someone who I have always been impressed with when I have seen him play.
Player wise we will be without Scott Keys for what looks like the rest of the season with a serious knee injury he suffered at Tilbury. He is due to have an MRI scan in 4-6 weeks to see the extent of the damage. We wish him all the best.
Other than that we have a clean bill of health and now have Ash and Stevo fully available which is a massive plus. Max Drury came into the squad last week from the reserves and I was hugely impressed with his performances against Maldon and Grays. He was up against probably the 2 best left wingers in this league and stuck to his task and came out of both games with an enormous amount of credit. Hopefully the Reserve team players can take heart at this and continue to try and push their way through into the first team.
2011 is now behind us and we can push on in 2012 .
All the best