ROVERS turned in an improved performance to secure a draw against promotion-chasing Bradford on Saturday.
The players rallied round after demoralising defeats to Rochdale and Port Vale the previous week and clearly heeded the manager’s words. McGhee had accused some of not putting in the necessary effort in those sub-standard displays but supporters were at last rewarded with a more committed performance, dispelling fears he had ‘lost the dressing room’.
Unfortunately defensive weaknesses cost us dearly as three crucial points were to prove out of our reach. A solitary point is not good enough at home as it keeps us just one point above the relegation zone.
If you score three goals at home you should expect to claim victory but sloppy defending from a corner and a cross led to two of the Bantams’ goals. Kenneth seems to have lost his commanding, no nonsense aura that impressed everyone when he came into the side. Better organisation and marking are needed if we are not to give soft goals away and pile pressure on ourselves.
McGhee sprung his weekly selection shock by picking Smith in central midfield alongside Clucas, while Norburn, one of our best performers this season, was left on the bench. The manager seems intent on tampering with the side each week and experimenting with players’ positions, but now is not the time to do it when we are in a relegation battle.
The loss of goalkeeper Etheridge, who was recalled by Fulham last week, is another blow but Walker could not be blamed for any of the goals.
On the plus side, goals from the ever-impressive Eaves, Smith and Branston on his debut after arriving on loan from Aldershot showed that we can cause teams problems. Sadly it was not enough to win but will give us hope that we can climb out of trouble.
The trip to Wycombe on Saturday would be the perfect chance to get back to winning ways to avenge the controversial abandonment at Adams Park earlier this season. Three points would not only ensure justice is served but most importantly lift us up the table by a couple of places.
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