Rovers v Wrexham

8 Sep 2009
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Chris Greenacre
#1
This Saturday's fixture is the biggest of the season thus far with a relatively bumper crowd expected at PP. The dragons defeat midweek seems them having to beat us to have any chance of the play offs. Eastleigh are expected to win at home to Alty so defeat on Saturday would be a big blow to rovers. Eastleigh's other games apart from us are Woking & Halifax. But lets be positive. Seems a long time ago we drew 2-2 at the racecourse with Maynard & Mangan scoring.

GBs somewhat surprising changes last week bringing in Ridehalgh, Maynard & Higdon whilst not greatly improving performance, were enough to secure the win which is all that matters. Suspect therefore it'll be the same side & formation as last week - although I'd much prefer Mekki in the side if fit.

The issue as many know is that 4-5-1 with Norwood out wide may work away from home, but will it create enough chances at home in a game we need to win? Will Higdon get enough service? Will Norwood end up tracking back against a Wrexham side who will have to be positive (Kayleden Jackson a danger man for them whose pace will test Big Mac). One could argue go 4-4-2 and be positive, at home, with a decent crowd, and go for the win. But suspect GB will play a it bit cautious and hope we can sneak another narrow victory. Can't blame him to some degree. Wrexham though are a different challenge to Torquay and will be aware that the 3 games we have lost since Xmas, have all been at home. I just hope the 4-5-1 at home doesn't come back to bite us later in the game if we're losing, not creating much, and having to make changes and go 4-4-2 - could be too little too late. Lets hope not.

Prediction: Same starting 11 and the points shared. 1-1.
 
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15 Mar 2010
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Jason Koumas
#2
I fear that if we start with the same system and starting eleven as last week we will struggle and won't win the game, so I hope Brabin is prepared to make changes. If Higdon starts, I hope it is in a 4-4-2 with Mekki restored to the line up as Sparky suggests. If we do persist with 4-5-1 I would prefer Higdon to be benched and Norwood played as the lone striker, with GTF behind. The team we played last week did not have enough creativity to beat one of the better sides in the division in my view.

It will be interesting to see how Wrexham approach the game. I think they have no chance of the play-offs regardless of the result on Saturday, as they can only get 75 points at most which surely won't be enough to finish fifth. However, after two poor displays their manager will no doubt demand a reaction, and what better game to get it in than a derby with Rovers. Wrexham are a decent footballing side and will probably be quite adventurous, which is why I think we need a bit of pace and width in the side to exploit them. We certainly owe them one after the two previous games this season: at The Racecourse we were the better side and would have won but for some negative substitutions by the manager; we were hopeless defensively in the FA Trophy game, but the scoreline still flattered them somewhat.

I doubt that any of the competitors for fifth place will win all their remaining games, but you could argue that this is the 'easiest' of our three fixtures on paper and we surely have to take the three points to make the play-offs.

I think it will be a good crowd, but with a lower than anticipated away following given Wrexham's recent slump in form. I would guess 7,500, with 1,200 - 1,500 visitors from Wales.
 

Boz

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30 Sep 2005
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Iain Hume
#3
Wrexham's surprising demise at Guiseley means only a win will do for them, while Rovers really need a victory too, although this league is so strange I wouldn't totally rule out Alty getting something from their trip to Hants.

In my view, it would be very negative to go with the same starting xi as Torquay. We played about 30 minutes with Mekki replacing Maynard and although we were ahead when Adam came on, we held that lead, so arguably it wouldn't be changing a winning side to start with the last 30 line-up. The same issues of creating enough chances for Higdon and isolating Norwood out wide would need to be addressed by the manager. While I would rather one of the two suggested line-ups from RLC above, Brabin's pre-match remarks suggest Higdon will be starting.

I missed the FA Trophy game, but Dominic Vose, who got a lot of plaudits for the visitors that day has moved on. Wrexham are certainly capable of playing good football, but I wonder if they might opt for more of a spoiling approach, breaking play up and frustrating the home crowd, having seen others succeed with that approach.

Prediction: with their recent down-turn in form, numbers travelling across the border may slump and I doubt will exceed Chester's 1526 in a crowd of around 7k.
Rovers poor home form against top 8 sides is matched by Wrexham's poor form on the road against the top sides. Sparky's prediction of a draw would seem to be backed by the form-guide, but is an outcome which wouldn't greatly help either side.
 

Ian

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21 Sep 2005
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Aldo
#4
I think Higdon will play so let's hope we play to his strengths. Get the ball out wide and get some decent crosses in. He's a handful when played properly. Our home form is still a worry but let's just hope for the remaining few games we push that aside and get the points we need. It certainly won't be easy and I think it will be close contest but one we can win.
 
8 Sep 2009
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Chris Greenacre
#5
Rightly or wrongly I'll be amazed if Higdon doesn't play, unless he is injured. I'm sure most agree that his record speaks for itself and if given chances, he will put them away. The concern is who will supply them in a must win game.

Boz makes a fair point in that the same starting 11 as Torquay does look negative. But GB can be stubborn and to be fair, 4-5-1 has worked a lot since Xmas. But agree Mekki should be in the side as I'm not sure who else can create much.
 

Ian

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21 Sep 2005
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Aldo
#6
Thinking about it, I think Higdon might prove a handful for the Wrexham defence. I think we need someone with that physical stregth to cause them problems and put pressure on their back four. It worked for Guiseley by ruffing them up a bit. If we allow them to play, it will be a lot more difficult.

It may not be pretty but at this stage who cares.
 
15 Mar 2010
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Jason Koumas
#7
I don't think playing a 4-5-1 is a problem per se, it is the personnel that are used. Norwood works his socks off in the lone striker role and drags defenders all over the place; Higdon does not. I know Higdon has got a decent goalscoring record at his previous clubs, but he barely contributes over the ninety minutes unless a chance literally drops on his head (which he will generally finish, in fairness to him). Sticking Norwood on the wing also inhibits our top goalscorer and nullifies his attacking threat.

That said, I think Higdon will start tomorrow.

I maintain that if we start with exactly the same tactics and eleven as against Torquay we will struggle tomorrow. Getting a smash-and-grab victory away to a struggling side is not the same as having to prize open a much better side at home.
 
5 Dec 2015
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Bobby Hutchinson
#8
Pretty much a nap Higdon will start and I've no problem with that.
We know he wants service and for me Ridehalgh's return is welcome, especially if at some stage of the proceedings we have Mekki on other side. Not knocking Hill but his effectiveness in opponents half isn't as great.
If we win I will say I looked forward to the game.
At the moment I'm not really... if you know what I mean!
 
1 Oct 2005
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
#10
Well, that's it. All over for another year. Our lack of consistency lets us down again. Full marks to all our rivals. We just don't deserve to go up.
 
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M

Mal

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#12
Fat lady sings methodology is the only straw clutching I can do. Anyway, I think Cheltenham are the first team for a long long time to go straight back up. Every other relegated team has taken at least two seasons....

I know I have said Brabin should have more time but he does seem to lack tactical nous and motivational skills.
 
15 Mar 2010
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Jason Koumas
#13
Hugely disappointing and simply not good enough. I thought we actually deserved a point for the battling second half display, but the overall performance was nowhere near the standard required for a game of such importance. The first half was awful and I believe the manager's selections were largely responsible for the poor display,

We started quite brightly but an uncharacteristic error from McNulty gifted Wrexham a goal. From that moment onwards we showed a lack of composure and our play was disjointed, lacking quality. We spent the majority of the first half punting balls in the direction of the lazy, static Higdon and there was no real pattern of play. Starting Higdon in a 4-4-2 was theoretically fine if we played with width and got good quality balls into the box, but we did not do this.

Shortly after half time Higdon was rightly substituted and was not too happy about it. If he is not prepared to put a shift in in a game of today's importance he can have no complaints about the crowd's reaction in my view, and can leave the club if he is not prepared to get himself fit and show some effort. After GTF and Kirby came on the performance did improve. For the remainder of the half we battled, without playing particularly well, but gifted Wrexham a winner just after forcing a deserved equaliser. Conceding immediately after scoring is another bad habit we have picked up in recent weeks.

We have heard a lot from the club about the behaviour of the fans this week. Well, the fans got right behind the team and played their part today, but the players did not show up and the manager's performance was inadequate. As Ian says, any team that loses nine games at home is going nowhere and the club need to sort the home form out next season if we are to achieve anything. The Everton manager is losing his job for eight home defeats, and we have lost more. Brabin should be asked serious questions about our unacceptable home form.
 
8 Sep 2009
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Chris Greenacre
#15
It's no secret to anyone that the home form has been our undoing - and GB hasn't been able to fix it.

Losing today was bad enough but compelling was Welling who beat us a couple of weeks ago at PP, losing 4-0 at Chester and being relegated. Sums it up.
 
Likes: Ian
1 Oct 2005
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
#16
I know I have said Brabin should have more time but he does seem to lack tactical nous and motivational skills.
That's my concern if we keep him for next season. You need to be a good man manager to get the team to play well and keep all the squad happy. I have my doubts. Now we have blown it, I'd like to see him show some faith in the youngsters and give them a chance in the next two games.

For me, the issue is - Will we do better next season given that we have a settled squad? Or would we be better starting again by bringing in a new man with new ideas/methods and players? Either way, MP needs to decide now. If he waits until October, it may be too late. After working closely with GB for nearly a year, MP must know better than any of us how he operates, so I'm prepared to back any decision the board makes regarding the manager.

Fat lady sings methodology is the only straw clutching I can do. Anyway, I think Cheltenham are the first team for a long long time to go straight back up. Every other relegated team has taken at least two seasons....
Actually, Bristol Rovers did it last year, but Cheltenham are the first for years to go up automatically. Good luck to them, they deserve it. After bringing in a very good manager in the middle of last season, they still went down from League Two. Then they started this season badly, but the club's faith in Gary Johnson was ultimately fully rewarded.
 
8 Sep 2009
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Chris Greenacre
#17
I don't think he's up to the job but I'll be amazed if GB is fired. Since xmas overall we've done well. But the home form all season has been abysmal. I think MP will demand a top 5 finish next season
 
8 Sep 2009
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Chris Greenacre
#18
Higdon was clearly not happy with the SWAs ironic cheers so doubt we'll see him again this season.

That chance he had at the kop end summed us up. He didn't know what to do when he should have put his foot through it. Toothless like the rest of the squad (apart from Norwood).
 
15 Mar 2010
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Jason Koumas
#19
Our wage budget was £1.1 million this season, way higher than the average for this division and several times bigger than Dover's or Braintree's. It was also substantially bigger than Cheltenham's and Wrexham's. I would guess only FGR and Eastleigh had bigger budgets. And despite that, it seems we won't even make the top five, perhaps missing the play-offs by some distance.

If Brabin leads us to nine home defeats with that kind of financial advantage should he really be here next season ? In my view, he should not. As well as destroying promotion chances, poor home form is absolutely corrosive to supporter confidence and if Brabin stays I would imagine season ticket sales will be down next season. It is not simply the number of defeats, but the uninspiring manner of most of the home displays that has been a major concern. We have only won four games this season by more than one goal - an incredible statistic.
 
15 Mar 2010
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Jason Koumas
#20
Higdon was clearly not happy with the SWAs ironic cheers so doubt we'll see him again this season.
His display today reminded me of Myrie-Williams' 'performance' against Oxford last season. His attitude has been disgusting since he arrived and hopefully we have seen the last of him.