Gas Gossip: Bristol Rovers manager John Ward must prioritise signing a proven striker

Bristol Rovers FC

Bristol Rovers FC

First published in Gloucestershire Sport Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , assistant editor

ROVERS returned from Torquay with a creditable point but still remain perilously close to the relegation zone after a disappointing defeat at Rochdale.

It was important not to get beaten by the Gulls in the Boxing Day encounter as they are below us in the table and would have climbed above us with victory.

A decent performance saw the Pirates dominate large spells of possession and it turned out to be a game we should have won.

We overcame an early setback after the referee awarded the Gulls a penalty with just six minutes on the clock. It looked a harsh decision as Clarkson was adjudged to have handled a free kick but the team was undeterred as Harrold levelled matters with a powerful header.

Unfortunately we lacked the killer instinct to return with all three points but a point away from home and a spirited display deserve praise.

The same could not be said from Sunday's trip to Rochdale unfortunately, as the Gas were unable to turn their first half superiority into goals.

It was never going to be easy playing away at a side chasing promotion, but a lack of clinical finishing and some slack defending combined to ensure we returned empty handed.

Both fixtures highlighted the need for a proven striker to be recruited in January.

Harrold battles well but is not the answer and we have seen little of Brunt as he has been struggling for fitness all season.

None of our other players has emerged as the key 20 goal a season forward who could turn close matches into victories.

That type of player has to be the priority for Ward and his recruitment will be key to our hopes of staying up.

The New Year's Day game at home to Cheltenham now has a 'must win' feel about it as Rovers lie in 21st place, just a point off the relegation zone, before Saturday's rescheduled trip to Crawley in the FA Cup round two.

Happy New Year to all Gasheads - let's hope 2014 sees us climb the table and building work on the new stadium commences.

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