Gillingham v Rovers

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Ian Goodison... who else!
Another cup final... Result will depend largely on who's fit.
 

Sparky

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Lets hope Lowe and Koumas may return as no one else appears able to score !

I'd take a point from this one setting us up nicely for Sheff Utd on Monday. Gillingham have goals in them through Cody McDonald and big Akinfenwa so defence needs to be at its best.
 
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Lowe and Koumas have apparently both travelled down, so hopefully at least one of them will play (preferably Lowe if I was forced to choose).

We must take something from this game and I agree a point would be a good result. In fact, I think two points from the two Easter games would be a decent return, as our fate would probably remain in our own hands, albeit we would have to beat Bradford on the final day to survive.
 

bigmart

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Have a bad feeling for this game think we will lose 1 0
 
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On Tuesday, there was effort and commitment without leadership, penetration and finishing. If we can get Lowe and Koumas back, we should be OK. We really have missed Robbo too (last season's vintage, I mean).
 

Ian

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At this stage of the season, losing a player who scores all your goals would be disastrous. Let's hope he's fit and ready to go. Draw for me.
 

Boz

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I don't think Lowe has been at his best in the last month or so, maybe carrying an injury for a bit and the partnership with Cassidy hasn't developed, but he's still our most important player and I hope he's fit to start. Koumas, if available, may best serve our cause by coming off the bench for this one, as he's unable to contribute much defensively and Jennings isn't 100%. Brown deserves another start, so if Lowe is fit I'd drop Kirby and move JLAA back to the wide position.

Gillingham got hammered last time out and their manager is threatening to ring the changes. It's a game where we need a strong start if that happens so we can take advantage of any bedding down period for the home side. Don't really have a feel for how this will pan out, but would settle for a draw.
 

Sparky

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Disappointing result this. Was never going to be easy and after hearing bits on the radio it sounded like we did ok especially in the 2nd half before they scored. Sounds like Cassidy had his chances but again was found wanting.

Again with only Lowey capable of scoring if he doesn't, no one else does.

Goodi went off injured and Stockton got a generous run out for the last 5. Ridiculous he didn't replace Cass sooner.

With Crewe winning a point for Carlisle but both Shrewsbury and notts losing it wasn't disastrous but the pressure is in for Monday.
 

bigmart

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A joke that Cassidy plays a full 90 minutes every game and Stockton gets a few minutes at the end. A predictable result sadly we really need to win on Monday but I doubt it will happen.
 

Ian

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Puts more pressure on now. We have to win our home games. Talk of bad luck again but you can't be this unlucky after every game. We had chances and missed them, that's not unlucky, it's just poor finishing.
 
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Just driven the whole way home thoroughly depressed as I did not know the other scores and feared the worst: fortunately it seems we live to fight another day, although we have to get at least a point on Monday.

We should have got at least a point today but completely blew the game by giving away two terrible goals in the last fifteen minutes. I can't fault the effort of the players, nor the quality, of which I thought there was plenty, particularly in the second half. However, we did not manage the later stages of the game well at all and John Mac has to take a fair share of the blame for this.

First half was not great. Gillingham had the majority of the pressure and chances, although in patches we actually played the better football and had a couple of opportunities of our own. Gills were very direct: balls into the channels for MacDonald to run on to and hoofs up to the human blancmange, Akinfenwa. Defensively we badly missed Jennings, with Gillingham having far too much space and time on the edge of our 18 yard box and Power looking decidely uncomfortable in the holding role. The back four, however, did ok.

In the second half we came out with a much more positive attitude and dominated from the off. I see Cassidy has taken another bashing above, but he actually played well and was unlucky today. He had one glancing effort somehow cleared off the line by a Gills defender, after a great burst by Ash Taylor, and was unlucky with an angled drive after a great run. However, had the same chances fallen to Lowey, we probably would have won. I also found it utterly bizarre that Cassidy and Stockton remained on the pitch in the dying stages, yet Lowe was subbed and replaced by Arthurworrey who ended the game as a makshift centre forward: it seems that Sparky's conspiracy theory that Cassidy can't even be substituted is correct.

With twenty minutes to go Gillingham brought on Kedwell who gave them a second wind, and at this point I think we should have replaced Koumas, who could barely run by this stage. As it transpired, it was Koumas's failure to track their wide man with ten minutes remaining that left the Gills player completely unchallenged on the byline and able to pick out Dack for ther opening goal: shocking defending and avoidable had we made a change. Hindsight is 20-20, and it is admirable that McMahon was still hoping to win the game in the latter stages, but we should have settled for a point and made ourselves more solid in the last quarter of an hour.

McMahon's away record is truly appalling and I think there are definite problems with the way we set up away from home: we give too many opportunities to the opposition and don't seem capable of digging out draws from games that have been evenly contested.

Fonners, who otherwise had an excellent game, then topped the afternoon off by stupidly coming up for a corner in injury time. We lost possession, Gillingham broke and MacDonald scored: that goal could be crucial in the final reckoning, as it is possible goal difference could be the difference between fifth and fourth bottom. Someone, whether MacMahon, Garnett or Lowe, should have told him to get back on his line.

There were a lot of decent individual displays, but man of the match was between Taylor and Pennington.
 
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Thanks RLC. Just like when we remained top of the league last year for weeks during a bad run, we seem to be defying gravity again near the bottom end. You'd think we'd be back in the mire after two defeats, but we still have it in our own hands. A defeat on Monday would not be fatal, but we need a good result soon to restore confidence. I think we are now paying the penalty for having a small squad and picking a number of key players who are not 100% fit.
 
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The saving grace for me is that two of our three remaining games are at home. Our home form has been much better than our away form under McMahon and it is possible that four points will be enough to keep us up. As strange as it may seem, I think I would reather be playing Sheffield United at home on Monday than Stevenage away.

I should also mention that we switched to five at the back today when Goody went off. The makeshift back line did well, with Pennington in particular impressive at centre back.
 

Sparky

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Cheers for the report RLC. The Cassidy situation astounds me really, especially if it leads to our downfall.

Sheff Utd won last night and still have an outside chance of the play offs so will be no push overs. Bradford beat Posh so that won't be easy either.

You do wonder whether the long season is finally catching up with Lowe at just the wrong time for us. That and the poor form of Jake, and Koumas, who also may be struggling given he didn't play for 2 years or so. Johnny Macs tactical inexperience is evident and isn't helping either.

I always told myself it wouldn't come down to the last game but I am starting to think it will. An away gave at Orient doesn't help either in the mix!
 

bigmart

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I just hope whatever division we are in next season Mcmahon does not get the job on a full time basis. We need a fresh start with new ideas.
 

Boz

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The saving grace for me is that two of our three remaining games are at home. Our home form has been much better than our away form under McMahon and it is possible that four points will be enough to keep us up. As strange as it may seem, I think I would reather be playing Sheffield United at home on Monday than Stevenage away.

I should also mention that we switched to five at the back today when Goody went off. The makeshift back line did well, with Pennington in particular impressive at centre back.
Aside from the draw to Wolves, we've lost to all of the play-off contenders at home, a category into which the Blades currently fall. By contrast we have managed wins at Shrewsbury and Colchester, two of our rivals in the battle to avoid the drop.

I was a little surprised that Arthurworrey didn't come on, when Goodi went off; McMahon doesn't seem to rate him. While nobody seems to know the truth about Cassidy's loan terms, Peter Taylor actually changed things and went for the win and it paid off, when Dack the player he'd brought on scored within about 10 minutes. The assistant manager is reactive rather than taking the lead in substitutions, which is one of the flaws in his management style.

Of the teams beneath us, Notts County have a relatively easy run in and Carlisle a game in hand. We almost certainly must win one of our remaining games to be in with a chance of staying up and take something from one of the other two...
 
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Aside from the draw to Wolves, we've lost to all of the play-off contenders at home, a category into which the Blades currently fall. By contrast we have managed wins at Shrewsbury and Colchester, two of our rivals in the battle to avoid the drop.

That is not true, as we beat MK Dons at Prenton Park, in addition to Coventry who would have been play off contenders if it was not for their points deduction. We also drew with Walsall. In addition, I was talking purely about our respective home and away records under McMahon, not over the whole season: I don't think anyone can dispute that we have been decent at home and shocking away since he took charge. Added to which, Sheffield United almost certainly won't make the play-offs now, whereas this fixture is of unusual significance for ourselves.

I would not necessarily agree that McMahon's substitutions are always reactive: bringing on Junior Brown in the last home game certainly wasn't, nor was the decision to replace Arthurworrey with Pennington at Colchester; both those changes had a big impact on the outcome of those games. In addition, prior to Gillingham making a change yesterday, we had no reason to, as we were the team that was well on top at that stage. However, once Kedwell came on we should have adjusted and did not.

My criticism would be that, in contrast to the majority of recent managers we have had, he does not seem to have a negative bone in his body. He does not seem to know when to shut up shop and close games out, particularly away from home, and has probably been too adventurous in his starting line up in certain away matches.

I actually share his preference for Pennington at centre back, as I think he is a much better prospect than Arthurworrey.
 
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Ian

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There are quite a few judgements and criticisms aimed at JM since he took over. I think we need to focus more on the players than that of a makeshift manager. I'd rather concern myself with the 11 on the pitch and debate over why we are in this position.

They are still largely accountable for what happens during that 90 mins. They all need to stand up and be counted at this stage with three games to go, it's no excuses time. Get out there and play for survival.
 
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