John Light's exclusive FGR online column
THERE was a magic moment at the New Lawn on Saturday. It occurred about 4.45pm. Manager David Hockaday turned round and with hands above his head applauded the main stand crowd. Two minutes later he was doing the same again. I knew we had a team, now we had a crowd as well.
Excitement and exuberance prevailed; press box etiquette was ignored. I was on my feet cheering. The reason for all this joy being unconfined was simple. The dam of expectancy had been broken. In those few minutes we realised what the team can and will do.
The second half against Woking showed exactly that. There had been patches of promise in the other games and of course we were still unbeaten, but at half- time the prophets of doom were out in force. The first half had been gruesome. The players walked off grim faced – they knew it too.
"We talked about getting back to basics," said manager David.
He added:"I did not have to rant and rave. The players themselves knew we had been very poor."
So what happened to change the game so drastically? Most importantly Rovers played at a quicker tempo.
There had been too much passing between the back four and Woking had been allowed to regroup or worse still just sit back and wait. They easily absorbed whatever Rovers had to offer, a fine Turley header being the only threat.
Forbes emerged for the second half and his positive approach added so much. Playing the holding midfield role, his incisive interceptions, quick passing and surging runs gave Rovers an extra dimension. Collins was thrown forward to support the forwards and with perpetual danger man James Norwood getting the ball more quickly - Rovers were asking all the questions.
A goal had to come and the ever improving Aaran Racine combined with Magro Vieira followed a James Rowe corner. But would it be enough? Marsh and Taylor arrived as substitutes and their combination brought the winning goal.
No sooner had the cheering died down when Norwood set up Taylor for number three. Now we knew!
"Judge me on my team," said Hockaday some time ago. Well now we can. A strong staring XI a strong bench and an ability to raise their game when needed had in the second half thrilled us all.
I had a gracious post match conversation with Gary Seward afterwards. He thought Woking had died. I knew what he meant but would have put it differently. Rovers killed them off.
Then came Kidderminster. I cannot pretend I was there, but how I wish I had been! Both team and fans excelled themselves. Noisy support matters and the rapport between manager and fans is good to see and long may it continue.
Never has there been a stronger squad, allowing the manager to rest and rotate players. With four games in 11 days this is essential.
All the players came here with their eyes and ears open. They knew what part they would have to play and look how well they are doing it. All seven strikers are needed and have played a part.
As a crowd we are beginning to play our part also, especially those who went to Kidderminster. A 1,000 home fans for Saturday? Surely this can be achieved.
Finally, praise for James Norwood. After two poor away performances he was the match winner on Monday. He has the ability to entertain and excite. More of the same please James. Like the team, there is no limit to what you can achieve.
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