Bristol news McCormick becomes talisman but return of Jaakkola has restored Rovers' character PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Anssi Jaakkola's injury created huge problems for Bristol Rovers, but he may have returned just in time to help push the Gas to safety
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! If 2020 was a bad year for Bristol Rovers, the club's fortunes in 2021 have done little to lift the gloom. They have been left in need of heroes to escape relegation from League One. But on Easter Monday, the Gas resurrected their hopes of survival with a rousing 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers, where a new hero completed his emergence as the Pirates' new talisman. Luke McCormick deservedly took the headlines with two brilliant goals, but stood the full length of the field away from where the Chelsea loanee celebrated his crucial winner was the man Rovers' have missed only slightly less than Jonson Clarke-Harris this season: Anssi Jaakkola. Jaakkola was sidelined for almost four months after Paul Tisdale's risk of playing the Finland international at Leyton Orient in the much-maligned EFL Trophy in December badly backfired. Read More Related Articles Contract decisions, relegation battle and Joey Barton’s summer plans – Bristol Rovers Q&A recap Read More Related Articles EFL boss sets date for return of full crowds for Bristol City and Bristol Rovers Joe Day – a January loan signing from Cardiff City – and Jaakkola's understudy Jordi van Stappershoef have shared the gloves since. Both have had good games and bad games but, crucially, neither have the command of the box or the presence in the team that 34-year-old can exert. The former Reading stopper's return at the end of March was a vital boost to a Rovers side that has won just five games since the turn of the year and staring down the barrel of relegation. The Gas have needed an injection of character. The breakthrough of McCormick as an all-action midfielder equally capable of a match-winning challenge or goal is undoubtedly a a boost, but the presence of a goalkeeper like Jaakkola cannot be underestimated. Purely on a skill level, Jaakkola is a fine operator who ranks among League One's best in his position, but his recovery from an Achilles injury and return to the XI has brought a level of communication, intent and accountability back to a team that has been due a tongue-lashing or two from the stands this season. Read More Related Articles Joey Barton set for triple injury boost ahead of Bristol Rovers' clash against Northampton Read More Related Articles Luke McCormick on how Joey Barton and divine intervention is guiding Bristol Rovers Goalkeeper and goalscorer are perhaps the most important roles on the football pitch, and this year Rovers have been without their best players in those roles from last season. Clarke-Harris' inevitable exit to Peterborough United last summer was not mitigated appropriately in the transfer market and Rovers' top scorer this season is left-back Luke Leahy. And for more than half their games, the Gas have been without Jaakkola – who the squad voted to be vice-captain before the start of the season.
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. Based on those facts alone, it is no surprise Rovers have had a struggling defence and attack amid a gruelling relegation battle.
Bristol Rovers' survival could be worth more than just League One football as Gas heroes emerge
Gas boss Joey Barton, in advance of Jaakkola's return from injury, said he had been struck by the keeper's presence on the training ground and said he had the ability to put points on the board single-handedly. One cannot disagree. His name on the teamsheet alone instantly lifts this team to a higher level. He has the sought-after ability of bringing poise and ease to the defenders in front of him. While he is yet to have a brilliant performance laden with top-class saves in the three games since his return, it is the little things that have made such a difference – the decisive punches, the quick-thinking to spark counter-attacks, the lack of errors and the fact he is demanding of his teammates.
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Zain Westbrooke was on the receiving end of a rocket from Jaakkola on Monday for his poor delivery, and that is just what this team has needed – a character willing to take responsibility and demand better from a team that has greatly under-performed expectations. He is going some way to filling the void left by the 7,000 Gasheads typically at the Mem prior to the pandemic. Rovers remain in deep relegation trouble with six huge games remaining, but Jaakkola's return has instantly made them harder to beat and stamped out some of their flakiness. He might have arrived just in time to push the Pirates to a great escape.
Source = PremierLeague-News.Com