Bristol news Rovers' flaws exposed again as chance to make statement is wasted at Gillingham PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Sam Frost's verdict as Bristol Rovers succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Bristol Rovers burning chances and sliding to a dispiriting defeat? We’ve seen this movie before. There have been few occasions this season where the Pirates have been decisively outplayed. Instead, many of their defeats have left Gasheads wondering what might have been. Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Gillingham was no different, as the Gas were floored by a pair of John Akinde sucker-punches. Tuesday’s triumph over Portsmouth proved to be a brief journey away from the dangerous waters Rovers have been treading. Their profligacy has threatened to be a fatal flaw all season and it isn’t going away. Games cannot keep passing them by with spells of dominance and control going to waste. Read More Related Articles Tommy Widdrington defends Bristol Rovers' strikers after defeat at Gillingham Read More Related Articles Bristol Rovers player ratings as missed chances prove costly in defeat at Gillingham The task facing the new boss Whoever is employed to succeed Paul Tisdale, Saturday’s game proved to be a microcosm of Rovers’ season and a clear portrayal of the task at hand. With just 27 goals from 28 games, the Pirates's chance creation and conversion cost them once again. In the first half, they had enough chances and moments to be worthy of a two or three-goal lead without much complaint, as Tommy Widdrington's direct tactics found joy. In the second half, the channels of creativity began to dry up as the centre of the Gills defence firmed up, and Rovers were unable to shift focus to find a way to unpick the defence. Meanwhile, Gillingham created little but made their moments count. The priority for any team facing a Steve Evans' side is to match them in the physical battle, which Rovers did for the vast majority of the game. They went through periods of sustained attacks off the back of second-ball domination. Bristol Rovers Caretaker Manager Tommy Widdrington is interviewed after the match. (Image: Patrick Khachfe/JMP) They did the hard part, but in the big moments Rovers were found wanting. They hit the woodwork twice, blasted over and wide from good positions, turned down shooting chances and allowed a superb first half count for nothing. It is no wonder that defensive frailties follow. Veteran centre-backs tell Bristol Live playing in a team that struggles to score is nightmarish for a defender, because the stakes are much higher and every mistake feels like it is magnified. Jack Baldwin, for example, was superb for 66 minutes in the face of the bruising Akinde and Vadaine Oliver, but then one positional error was punished and Rovers were behind. Rovers defence is much maligned, and of course they have under-performed like the rest of this squad. But they deserve some sympathy. A more reliable attack in front of them would in turn fortify the defence. They are playing with little confidence. The Gas have shown themselves capable of coming back in games, but rarely late on. They struggle for composure and quality when chasing equalisers in the final quarter of the game, and so it proved once again at Gillingham. They enjoyed plenty of possession on the flanks at the feet of their outside centre-backs and wing-backs, but the balls into a penalty area packed with black Rovers shirts were lacking in precision.
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. He must also find a way to boost his team's savvy. Gillingham may have plenty of youngsters and loanees in their squad, but the nous of their manager is reflected in their play. Sometimes it manifests in ugly ways, particularly over-exaggerating contact and getting in the referee's face over the most minute of decisions. But they also know how to navigate through tricky games and tricky moments to get points their play might not deserve, qualities Rovers desperately need in the coming weeks and months.
James Daly of Bristol Rovers shoots.
(Image: Patrick Khachfe/JMP)
The league of seven With 18 games to play, it appears it will be four of seven teams to suffer relegation. Despite their defeat, Rovers remained two points clear of the drop zone as Northampton Town, Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion fell to defeats. Swindon Town found a last-gasp winner while Rochdale drew with Plymouth Argyle, but Rovers’ small cushion of safety remains. But they cannot tread water forever. Their rivals will certainly get their act together as the jeopardy becomes ever more real. It is vital Rovers start stringing together a run of points to pull clear and spare supporters a nerve-shredding run in. The target must be to win that seven-team mini-league. But they will rue the chance they missed to make a statement to their relegation rivals. The 1pm kick-off meant their opponents would have known their result before they kicked off two hours later. A big win on the road would have sent a message that Rovers were on the up and threatening to get away from their fellow strugglers, but that chance was wasted by a wasteful performance. Huge games await Promising performances without points will matter for nothing as Rovers enter what could be a defining week in their season. Tuesday sees the visit of Wigan to the Mem in a classic six-pointer, and the victor of that game will feel a lot happier about their prospects of survival. Four days later Rovers welcome Shrewsbury Town to BS7. Steve Cotterill has masterminded Salop’s excellent revival from his hospital bed and they have a nine-point cushion to the relegation and form on their side.
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And on March 2, the Gas travel to bottom club Burton Albion, who themselves have enjoyed something of an upturn since the arrival of Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink. How Rovers fare over those three games will have a significant say in where they will be playing their football next season, and six appears to be the minimum return required. The defeat to Gillingham, for all the fight and endeavour shown at Priestfield Stadium, has only upped the ante. The Gas cannot let the coming days pass them by.
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