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Rovers v Cambridge

Boz

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Only 3 days since our last game, but the visitors are in the same boat and both sides should be buoyed up by midweek Cup wins. I'm never fond of the pre-Christmas home games, as we have a nasty habit of losing them; 1-2 to Gillingham last year being the most recent. I don't know much about our opponents, they've held their own since returning from the Conference and will be tough opponents.

I don't think Rovers have any new injury problems from the Oxford game. We've actually acquired a new player in Chris Shuker re-registering to play for us. I suspect that he'll feature very sparingly, but it does indicate what a downer Micky has on Baggie, who's hardly been given a chance. The Stockton-Odejayi pairing apparently didn't function too well, so expecting Fenelon to return, but aside from that, the same line-up as started Tuesday.

Wonder if there's any danger of the match being called off given the dreadful weather

Prediction: The timing means we'll struggle to hit 4k on the gate. I would expect a tight game either 1-1 or settled by the odd goal.
 
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I think the gate will be a bit higher than Boz predicts due to the feel good factor around the club at the moment and the novelty of Friday night football; unfortunately I won't be one of those attending, but I look forward to reading the reports.

I agree that it will be a tight game as Cambridge are in decent form, and we were showing signs of fatigue on Tuesday. I would actually expect two or three changes from the Oxford game, just to give a few players a rest.

A victory would be welcome, as our next away game is very tough and we will miss a game in the New Year due to the Swansea cup tie. The way we have been grinding results out in the last couple of weeks I am pretty confident we can get the three points.
 

Ian

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Confidence is high in the dressing rooms and between supporters. I think it will be a tricky game in tricky conditions, but we have resolve now so I'm hoping we can nick this one by one or two goals. I think Odejayi is playing quite well at the moment and is now scoring goals so I would probably leave him and Stockton up front. Stockton usually fades after the first 45 so a chance for Fenelon to come on and cause problems.
 
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For once, you feel Rovers SHOULD win this and will be disappointed if they don't. That shows how far we've come since Micky arrived. At least no-one is calling it a "must win" game.

Expect some surprises in his team, as usual. As RLC says, he'll probably rest two or three. Anyone with a niggle will be left out to reduce injuries.
 

Sparky

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As Boz indicates the situation with Baggie is bizarre really. I remember Micky saying when he came to the club that he was the only player he had coached before on the playing staff. Must have had some pre conceived ideas about him and not willing to give him a chance. A bit unfair maybe as Abbs was playing well under RE but thats the life of a footballer I guess.

Turning to the match I wonder if ex rovers loannee Ryan Donaldson will feature who is an important player in their attack but didnt play for them in midweek.

Given our recent form and being at home we have a chance but this will be no walkover. I'm going for 0-0 with the windy conditions playing their part. Wrap up warm tonight !
 

Boz

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1-1, conceded a late goal when Cambridge were down to 10 men and what sounds like a bad injury to Ihiekwe. While not as bad as the usual pre-Christmas fare at home, disappointing. Will be interested to hear the thoughts of those of you at the game.
 
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Disappointing to concede a late goal to 10 men - and from a set piece, but I'm sure there will be positives. It sounded like quite a battle and I look forward to the reports.
 
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We were second-best for long periods tonight. Cambridge were simply better than us on the deck, where their movement and ability to get first to the ball meant they enjoyed a lot more possession than us. In the air too, they seemed to win almost everything. Even in the second half when they withdrew the big forward and brought on a couple of smaller, pacier players, they always seemed to be bossing the game.

That having been said, they didn't actually create that much, indeed the closest to a goal in the first half was a wicked free kick by Ridehalgh which was clawed away by the keeper. Our main tactic in the first period was trying to get Fenelon in behind their left back, with only limited impact. The injury was another blow, sad to see a Rovers defender off on a stretcher so soon after Aimson's injury. Woodards came on and did OK.

Second half was similar to the first. We had a couple of flurries, the Cambridge took control, again without creating too much. On a breakaway, the erratic Ridehalgh centred for Cole who seemed to scuff his shot from where I was, but maybe he did place the ball in the bottom corner. Fenelon had a great 1 on 1 to tie the game up but smashed it a yard wide. Then came the red card and maybe the thought was that it was going to be our night, however undeserved. But we sat deeper, and deeper, and deeper....until a routine outswinging corner was powered home by the unchallenged Nelson. Sickening. We tried to press for a winner and had a couple of balls in the box, but it was too little, too late. Can't begrudge Cambridge a point, they were pretty tidy throughout on a foul night.

Rovers looked tired, especially Jennings and Power. The former took a bad wallop on the ankle in the first half so was maye a bit subdued as a result. Max just looked like he had lead legs. Ridehalgh was poor, Danny got forward but balls into the box lacked the subtlety against two big defenders. Oddjob was pretty poor, and the service to Fenelon too poor, too often. Laird got involved, but doesn't convince. The back three did OK (including Woodards when he came on), but we need some height in there. I thought OFW was our best player, handled well and a couple of good saves.

Three points would have given us some breathing space, but a point was a bonus in the end. The lads need a break as there's been lots of intense football in the last month.

Merry Christmas, one and all. Let's hope we finally turn the corner in 2015.
 
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Thanks for the report TT. It sounds like a re-run of the Oxford game to be honest, only we did not quite get the breaks on this occasion.

I think we must take heart from the fact that, even against apparently superior teams, we are showing enough spirit and resolve to take something from the game: that is six unbeaten now, and only two defeats from thirteen.
 
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I think we must take heart from the fact that, even against apparently superior teams, we are showing enough spirit and resolve to take something from the game: that is six unbeaten now, and only two defeats from thirteen.
My feelings exactly. We are creeping up the table, slowly but surely, although if York draw at out-of-form Bury and Carlisle beat Northampton, we are back in the bottom two. We just have to be patient. The next few weeks, with the flurry of games, the Swansea tie and the opening of the transfer window, will be very interesting.
 

bigmart

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A poor 1st half in difficult conditions which was just shaded by Cambridge, after we started bright in the 2nd half they got on top of us and were causing us quite a bit of trouble. The goal came a bit against the run of play but it was good to see Cole come on and score as I thought Odejayi was very poor.

The red card was thoroughly deserved and we really should have increased the lead as Fenelon put a good chance wide, hes the only player in the team with real pace and his movement is good but his finishing is poor. To concede so late and yet again was frustrating to say the least but we should still have won right at the end but after a good turn Cole shot over when he should've buried it. although we didn't deserve too win.

We need to keep the momentum going and pull away from the bottom 2, January will be interesting with all the loan deals up, could be quite a bit of movement especially if Micky can get some out the door too.
 

Ian

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Mentally, we are a mess when we are leading. The whole team drops back and invites pressure. No matter who is in charge and what players are on the field, it's been happening for years and is really frustrating. Yesterday's result was disappointing getting so close to three points, but in all fairness, a draw was probably the least Cambridge deserved.

They were a strong, physical side and I agree with TT64, we looked jaded and I think the number of recent games had certainly caught up with us. We started poorly and really weren't in the game for 20/25 mins. Cambridge are strong and pass it around well but they do lack a goalscorer. Both teams were fairly toothless upfront although Fenelon and Stockton should have done better with their chances.

Can't grumble too much though. We are improving slowly and we've had an excellent December so far. Like RLC says, we are showing more resolve now and are a lot more competitive in games, so the results will come.

There really wasn't a standout Rovers player for me. Jennings battled hard again in midfield, Laird had an OK game but is a bit lightweight for the physical encounters. Defensively we were good, I just wish we could defend set pieces!
 

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With so little time remaining when we were pegged back to 1-1 it felt more like a defeat than a point gained. In fairness a point was most probably all that we deserved, as Cambridge were in charge for long periods of the game. As in the Walsall game we can under more and more pressure as the game wore on, seating deeper and deeper and an equaliser felt more and more likely. When it came it was an absolute disaster with Holness and Ridhalgh deseperately waiting for fon Williams to collect the ball and when he failed to do so Holness was under pressure to put the ball out for the corner from which they equalised. Again defending set pieces had cost us dear particularly as today York's point at Bury and Carlisle's home win copnsigns us back into the bottom two. It's clear why Adams wants taller players as we were beaten in the air time and time again. Fenelon again looked theatening up front, Odejayi is a complete waste of space although Stockton scored when he came on he lacks mobility. MOM, by a country mile, Steve Jennings. He has to be a must for a permanent move in January.
 

Boz

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Back in the bottom 2 again should emphasise that there is a long battle ahead to secure our L2 status. I do feel that Micky makes things harder sometimes, by freezing out players rather than using the full squad; Baggie and Richards should be on the bench ahead of Kirby and given Woodards looks decent at this level, yet only got a chance when Ihiekwe injured.
 

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We may be back in the bottom two but at least we are not too far adrift as we have closed the gap considerably.
 
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Back in the bottom 2 again should emphasise that there is a long battle ahead to secure our L2 status. I do feel that Micky makes things harder sometimes, by freezing out players rather than using the full squad; Baggie and Richards should be on the bench ahead of Kirby and given Woodards looks decent at this level, yet only got a chance when Ihiekwe injured.
I think you overstate this case, to be honest. All managers will have their favourites and less-than-favourites, and the two players you mention were regulars in a team that was rock bottom. How many goals has Richards actually scored this season ? Fewer than Odejayi from more appearances, actually.

The two players probably don't do enough without the ball to satisfy Adams, with the style and system he wants to play. The same reason why Mourinho got rid of Mata from Chelsea despite his obvious talent, and uses workhorses like Ramires instead. Your argument that 'he is a decent player, therefore he must be involved' is a bit simplistic I think.

And anyway, Baggie can't defend set plays.

Broadly, there has been a dramatic upturn in results in the last two months, which suggests the current manager is getting most things right, most of the time.
 
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Boz

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I think you overstate this case, to be honest. All managers will have their favourites and less-than-favourites, and the two players you mention were regulars in a team that was rock bottom. How many goals has Richards actually scored this season ? Fewer than Odejayi from more appearances, actually.

The two players probably don't do enough without the ball to satisfy Adams, with the style and system he wants to play. The same reason why Mourinho got rid of Mata from Chelsea despite his obvious talent, and uses workhorses like Ramires instead. Your argument that 'he is a decent player, therefore he must be involved' is a bit simplistic I think.

And anyway, Baggie can't defend set plays.

Broadly, there has been a dramatic upturn in results in the last two months, which suggests the current manager is getting most things right, most of the time.
It would be wrong to conclude that just because players were regularly featuring in a side that's rock-bottom that they were entirely responsible for that state of affairs. While I certainly wouldn't claim that they would transform things, it is an option that ought to be considered. Richards had a reputation when at Exeter of getting goals from off the bench. Baggie has changed games coming on as a sub; at Rotherham last season for example. Doubtless is January, Richards will be heading south-west and Baggie lining up chances for Ched Evans at Pools and in my view, both will be a loss.

Baggie can't defend set plays?? On last night's evidence neither can Holness and that's his job and Micky keeps selecting him.

Of the players Micky has brought to the club so far; Jennings was a no-brainer. Had the Edwards-Butler team made more effort to keep him, then I don't think our position would have been so dire. Thompson and Fenelon seem like decent loans and Gnanduillet had his moments, but we desperately need a wide player and if Thompson isn't to regain fitness a calm and commanding central defender. I hope that we're not going to be dredging in a stream of Port Vale rejects come January.

Certainly you would expect a manager of Micky's experience to do better than a rookie like Edwards. However, in his time with Rovers we're averaging 1.25 points a game. Continue that until the end of the season and we'll end up with 50 or 51 points, which may not be enough to keep us up.
 
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At risk of being caught in the crossfire between Boz and RLC, I'd say the truth was somewhere between their views. You do wonder what Richards and Baggie could have done given a fair chance (they were hardly our worst players under Rob), but we'll never find out. However, Micky has at least found the makings of a settled, effective team. If he can hang on to Thompson, Jennings and Fenelon, and bring in a couple more players to help out in the middle of the park, we should finish the season safely. However, although Micky has clearly made progress, it's been steady rather than spectacular and I can understand Boz's frustration that we are back in the bottom two. It's by no means a given that we will not get relegated. It will mean a lot of hard work and more luck than we've had in the past two years to see us climb out of the mire.
 
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Certainly you would expect a manager of Micky's experience to do better than a rookie like Edwards. However, in his time with Rovers we're averaging 1.25 points a game. Continue that until the end of the season and we'll end up with 50 or 51 points, which may not be enough to keep us up.
You are excluding cup ties in that figure, which is unfair as they have all been against decent opposition and we have won several of them. I can only repeat that under Adams we have won 5, drawn 6 and lost only 2 (and we should have got at least a draw from one of the defeats, away to Luton). Extrapolated to league games, that is an average of 1.6 points per game which would definitely keep us up. And you also take no account of the fact that those results have been achieved with 80% players inherited from Edwards; Adams has had very little ability to re-shape the team in the way he wants to. Even if we are relegated, Edwards, Butler and probably Johnson should bear most of the responsibility, not Adams.

I agree with your comments on the loanees, but I don't see the logic in your comment regarding 'Port Vale rejects' as we have brought in players from a variety of sources so far. My comment regarding Baggie was a joke, but in terms of his ability as a wide man, Adams is not the first manager to question his consistency and his defensive capabilities, which I think is why he is not involved more. As for Richards, he spends too much time outside the eighteen yard box for a team that was struggling to score goals a couple of months ago and his goalscoring record is poor. Generally, I am just surprised you are not more grateful that we have been given a decent chance of survival when relegation looked a certainty under Edwards, and focus instead on a couple of individuals who, while showing occasional signs of promise, are hardly club legends. Players come and go in football, but the future of the club is paramount.

Anyway, have a good Christmas and hopefully we can pick up a surprise point at Burton and beat Northampton.
 

Ian

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It was always going to be a slow and steady improvement. He can't work miracles, we were that bad. We have to be realistic. We have improved and we are doing so steadily. He's doing a good job in the circumstances.

Bell Baggie certainly doesn't fit the big physical players Adams wants and neither does Richards which is why we are probably setting more of Odejayi much to certain supporters' bemusement.
 
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