ROVERS had a mixed start to life in the Conference Premier, with a positive display at home to Grimsby on Saturday that was followed by a poor midweek defeat at Barnet.
Fans turned out in force for the first game to show that their support for the club had not wavered following relegation out of the Football League, with a crowd of more than 7,000 packing into the Memorial Stadium to watch a fixture that was also shown live on BT Sport.
We were encouraged by a display full of energy and commitment, qualities that were missing too often last year.
The Pirates also played some neat football at times against a Mariners side that is expected to be among the promotion contenders. The only thing missing was a bit of quality up front and more creativity to supply chances to the strikers as the game ended in a 0-0 stalemate. The return of Ryan Brunt to lead the line is a boost but he looks short of match fitness and needs more games to build up his sharpness.
Defensively we looked solid, as apart from a couple of half-chances Grimsby did not manage to create anything clear-cut and we were never under too much pressure. Midfield looked an area where there were improvements on last year; Sinclair caught the eye not just with his beard but as an all-action player who was constantly chasing and harrying opponents and was always keen to find space to receive the ball.
His efforts were well complemented by the equally industrious Mansell and if we can add more quality in the wide areas we should look a more potent attacking force. Despite failing to score, it was an enjoyable game to watch and a solid point to get the campaign underway was a satisfactory return.
The lack of firepower and creativity was also apparent at The Hive on Tuesday as Rovers slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Barnet, highlighting the urgent need for reinforcements to strengthen the squad.
The Gas will be looking to bounce back with their first win of the season away to Altrincham on Saturday.