Rovers v Notts County

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Goodison
Simply a must win game, if the players can't get themselves up for this they may as well retire.

I think the team needs a serious shake up, but I don't think McMahon will be the one to do it. It's apparent with his playing of Lowe/Cassidy wide that the problem of tactical idiocy was not limited to Ronnie.

Team I would play:

OFW

Holmes Taylor Goodison Rideleigh

Power Koumas Jennings Kirby

Stockton Lowe


With Goodison in the back four we would have the experience we badly need, I'd play Power and Kirby in midfield as Power could tuck in a provide support for Koumas defensively whilst Kirby could provide width. Stockton could complement Lowe quite well upfront and give the team some presence. For me Cassidy and Lowe are too similar and I don't see the point in trying to accomodate a player who isn't even ours and has scored 1 goal in a year.

This line up also avoids loan players as I think you should try field a team without loan players anyway as you don't get any long term benefit if the player develops, and it's a bit of a cliche but will they be as up for it? Also players who are here permenantely should, in theory, have a better understanding and team spirit as they know each other much better.

Finally McMahon was part of the team that signed these players or gave them new contracts, so they should show a bit of faith in the players and their own decision making by playing them, rather than trying to replace them with players on loan from literally anywhere (even league 2 reserves!).
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
I agree with RTID about the magnitude of this game, but I would not play the team he suggests above: playing a 4-4-2 this season we have been varying shades of awful, and while recent results have been disappointing, I would stick with the midfield three which has served us well on many occasions. I do agree that we should be including at least one or two of the youngsters to give us more energy and McMahon's recent preference for Robbo over Kirby is baffling. His general attitude that the youngsters need protecting in our current situation is admirable, but should not prevent us from including at least one of them in the team to freshen things up a bit.

I said elsewhere that a diamond formation with a midfield of, say, Jennings, Koumas, Wallace and Power / Kirby and Lowe and Cassidy up front could work. However, we have not tried anything like that all season and it would be a brave move to experiment on Saturday.

Regarding the match, if we don't win I think we will be relegated. If 50 points is the benchmark for survival, if we fail to win we could need 4 /5 wins from the ten remaining games and we have not been good enough at any stage this season to put together a run of results like that. Failure to beat the bottom team, having lost emphatically to the second bottom team seven days earlier, would be devastating for confidence on and off the pitch. On the other hand, I think victory for Rovers pretty much condemns County to League Two.

At present our season has horrible echoes of 2000-1 when Aldridge was replaced by his assistant and rather than giving us new impetus, the change sealed our relegation. Hopefully John McMahon will prove my fears are unfounded, starting on Saturday.
 

bigmart

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Ian Muir
no idea why but I think we will win 2 1
 

Boz

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Iain Hume
I think that mental attitude will be important in this one. Whatever Notts County's failings on the footballing side our, they will be another Stevenage, in our face and I don't think we can expect anything, with a similar spineless performance.

I partially agree with RTID on loanees playing. Cassidy doesn't merit a start on current form and he's had enough starts to be no longer classed as rusty. Brown has had less L1 experience than Kirby, so shouldn't be starting ahead of him. However, Arthurworrey has been one of our better players in the last few matches, so should remain in the starting xi.

Didn't go to the Bolton game, but didn't we play something akin to a diamond formation then? Brave to experiment? Perhaps, but arguably foolish not to make some tactical adjustments from the system and personnel that have given us little to cheer in the last couple of games.

Prediction. It will be a poor crowd of around 4.3k, a scrappy game and a draw.
 
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Backayogo
The point made about Robbo is true however in any Club Senior players usually get their way. They assume they have a god given right too be in the side even though they are on the wane. I and others around me have said it for some time that he should not be playing wide but also should not be playing from the start, he should be used as a Sub for the 20-30 mins. Think back about how Senior players have always played even though they are on the way out.
 

Sparky

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Chris Greenacre
More than ever the players need to stand up and be counted in our most important game for a long time. Forget what has gone before - it all starts on Saturday. Personally I would start with Jake alongside Lowe in a 4-4-2 or diamond type formation. Jake has not performed well but he is not suited to playing up top on his own. Up top alongside Lowe I think he deserves another chance.

Hopefully Johnny Mac has been working on something all week but I don't really think he is a tactical genius.

I would also give Kirby a start too although I have always thought Horwood going forward can be decent but we are at home so lets go with the attacking players.

It could be a nervy start to the game so the crowd must stay with rovers otherwise going behind could see heads drop and no way back for us. I dont necessarily agree relegation would be definite if we lose but it would be difficult to find a way back.

I am optimistically hopeful for a scrappy win - say 2-0 to rovers
 
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
Heart says 2-1 win. Head says a nervy 1-1 draw. I just hope the crowd give the team a chance to relax and play as we know they can.
 

Ian

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Aldo
I don't think we have much to loose by mixing it up a bit and trying something different. One thing we do know is that the old tried and tested formulas have not worked all season.

Ultimately, it's down to the players and they have to go out and play out of their skins, well, the ones that can be bothered at least!

See this as a draw.
 
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
I've just noticed it's a crunch weekend for the other relegation strugglers too. Apart from Shrewsbury, who have a tough derby away at Wolves, the other six in the bottom seven are playing each other. It will be a nervous afternoon for us all and could indicate who's got the character to escape the drop..
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Ultimately, it's down to the players and they have to go out and play out of their skins, well, the ones that can be bothered at least!

James Wallace interviewed on Radio Merseyside tonight:

Interviewer: Do you think you have enough in the dressing room to get out of trouble ?

Wallace: No, not at the moment. There are a lot of down players in there. It has been really tough dealing with the off the pitch stuff these last few weeks.


Hardly encouraging.


Regarding BBTC's post, if we win tomorrow we are definitely out of the bottom four due to the struggling sides playing each other. All ifs and buts at the moment though......
 

Boz

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Iain Hume
I've just noticed it's a crunch weekend for the other relegation strugglers too. Apart from Shrewsbury, who have a tough derby away at Wolves, the other six in the bottom seven are playing each other. It will be a nervous afternoon for us all and could indicate who's got the character to escape the drop..

This is right and means that unless we win, opponents in the race to avoid the drop will gain ground on us. Our captain's remarks in this context make worrying reading.
 
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Liam Palmer
Could be the pivotal weekend of the season. McMahon and Wallace's comments hardly inspire, but at least they are honest. I think the loss of Pennington and Kennedy have had as much impact as anything else. We seemed to cope with Ronnie's disappearance quite well until the loanees went back.

We have enough experience around the squad to get out of this mess (Robinson, Koumas, Goodison, Lowe), it's whether we have the energy and enthusiasm for the fight. The first 20 minutes today might go along way to telling us.....

Team wise, it's the acting manager's call. He has to look at the players and pick the 11 who are most up for it. If that means dropping a couple of established players, so be it. Realistically, i can see the same line up and formation as recently. Let's just hope they can rouse themselves.
 

Ian

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Aldo
I agree TT64. I think this weekend is a big one, and losing the two Everton youngsters was really bad timing as they were settling in really well. I think we miss Kennedy more as Holmes isn't a bad player. I really don't care what other teams are doing. We must concentrate on getting the win, that's all we can do. I predicted a draw. I hope I'm wrong..
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Well, that was a bit nervy wasn't it ? Well done to the players today for battling to the end in a game where events conspired against us.

Had Koumas and Wallace stayed on the pitch I think we would have won the game comfortably. In the first half we controlled midfield, played some great football, and should really have been out of sight, with sloppy defending from set plays our achilles heel yet again. Wallace, in particular, I thought was immense. Once those two went off injured, we lost our shape, the game became scrappy, disjointed and much more of a battle. County were the better side in the second half, but we kept working, stayed in the game and, in fairness, created the better opportunities throughout the ninety minutes. The victory was just about deserved and Jenno's goal will hopefully be the boost that everyone at the club has needed.

I think McMahon was brave to play a 4-4-2 with Koumas on the left and got the tactics spot on, as we outplayed a poor County side until the enforced changes were made. I was pleased to see Jake Kirby back in the side and thought he put a real shift in today. A word of praise too for the maligned Andy Robinson who played a crucial role in the build up to the winning goal: he is obviously at the end of his career, but he battled and gave good leadership in the second half and it is clear how much the club means to him.

On the negative side, defensively we have to be better. County did not create a single opportunity in open play in the first half, yet could have gone in 2-2 due to shoddy defending. Arthurworry had another decent game, but I think there is an argument for bringing Goody back for a couple of matches to settle us down a bit. I also think we will need at least one of Koumas and Wallace available for the remainder of the season if we are to survive.

Out of the bottom four and on to Vale Park........
 
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Ian

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Aldo
Phew..
Can only echo comments above. We were extremely unlucky to lose our two best players who controlled the first half. Nervy stuff but we got maximum points.
 

bigmart

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Ian Muir
A vital and much needed 3 points, I thought overall we were clearly deserved the 3 points and were the better team. We did look nervy at the back, Fon didn't have the best of games but for me it was never a penalty there player just ran into Ash who couldn't get out of the way.

I would stick with 4-4-2 for the remaining home games as I think its out best chance of scoring goals, I would also like to see Cole given more of a run out as im not convinced at all by Cassidy.

Just have to hope the injuries are not as bad as they seem as it looked like Wallace did his groin & Koumas could be a broken bone in his foot.
 

Boz

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Iain Hume
Prediction. It will be a poor crowd of around 4.3k, a scrappy game and a draw.

Well I got the attendance about right, but was way off with the rest.

It wasn't a bad game, nerve-wracking at times, but in the end we got the result that we needed and our first half performance deserved. We started in a similar vein to Coventry, but this time the Magpies took the lead against the run of play. We didn't need to concede the corner which led to the goal and while OFW may have found the first effort hard to handle, although it didn't seem that powerful, his slow reaction to the spilled ball resulted in their goal. Thankfully heads didn't drop too much with Wallace leading by example and two quality goals put us ahead. OFW then atoned for his earlier mistake, by a penalty save, which was poetic justice as it should never have been awarded. The loss of Wallace then Koumas considerably weakened us, County equalised with a well-taken free-kick and at that point seemed favourites to take all three points, before a Jennings pile-driver as unexpected as it was beautiful knocked the heart out of them.

I felt Ash was immense at the back, Wallace Koumas and Jennings on their game in midfield and Lowe a willing workhorse up front. Of the starting xi, Cassidy was a passenger and should have been subbed, while OFW, penalty save aside, was far from his best and failed to command his area. Power is nowhere near as good as Wallace at his best, but filled in adequately, allowing for his lack of match practice. Robinson, contribution for the winner aside, was weak he offered little going forward and Campbell-Ryce was given a free run at Ridehalgh on numerous occasions after he came on. I felt Brown would have been the better option from both an attacking and defensive perspective to replace Koumas.

Where we go from here will in part depend on how serious the injuries are to the key players and whether McMahon has the nouse to realise we can't carry passengers and the bottle to do something about it.
 

Gray

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Ian Goodison... who else!
The most positive thing to come out of this game for me was our response to going a goal behind. I'll admit to fearing the worst when we went 0-1 down, but to come back strongly shows there is some spirit there.

Let's not get carried away this is still only a scrappy win at home against the bottom club. As we've all been saying this season we need to build on our positive results and kick on from here.

Due to some changes to the kids weekend activities I've now got my Saturday afternoons back so planning a short trip up the M6 to Port Vale on Saturday to cheer the lads on!
 
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