7:00am Friday 16th August 2013
By Jeff Bolitho
ROVERS got their season off the mark with a battling point against Scunthorpe at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Although a 0-0 draw at home would normally be viewed as a disappointing result, our crippling injury list meant it was a point gained rather than two dropped.
With ten players currently out of action, the last thing we needed was the loss of another player, but that is what happened to captain Tom Parkes as he was stretchered off after an accidental collision with just 18 minutes gone left him with concussion.
Tom Lockyer had to move into defence from midfield to fill the gap and the youngster showed maturity beyond his years as he excelled with a composed performance.
Fortunately the Iron were far from ruthless up front, although we did ride our luck with two of their attempts hitting the woodwork and another cleared off the line.
However, a point was well deserved as John Ward’s youthful team showed plenty of character and spirit and never let their heads drop throughout.
The one criticism was that we seemed quite punchless up front, despite another impressive game from Richards, who was chasing lost causes and harrying defenders right until the end.
We are clearly missing a more physical presence up front and the return of Harrold or Brunt cannot come soon enough.
O’Toole had a more subdued game than usual but the lack of experienced players around him may mean he has to curtail his attacking instincts to ensure the ship remains steady.
The likely return of Kenneth to the squad this week is good news as he will provide some experienced cover for the established centre-back pairing of Parkes and McCrystal.
But it seems we will have to wait another week for the likes of Gill and Brunt to make their comebacks so this Saturday’s Severnside derby at newly-promoted Newport County is certain to provide a tough test.
The experience of playing in such a fixture will be invaluable for our youngsters and if they can return with at least a point Gasheads will be making the return journey over the Severn Bridge with great satisfaction.
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