Rovers v Shrewsbury

Boz

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Iain Hume
With events off the field proving a distraction, this 6-pointer has crept up upon us. Shrewsbury, currently managed by ex-Rover Mike Jackson have started picking up a few points and are quite a physical side, so will be a difficult proposition. Apart from their gaffer, Germaine Grandison central defender/full-back spent a spell on loan here a few years back.

Injury news isn't good for the midfield, with Wallace certainly out and Koumas, Kirby and Jennings all highly doubtful. It will be interesting to see how the defence is set up, in light of Pennington ending up in the centre last weekend and given Goodison is likely to be back in contention.

Prediction: Visitors will bring 300+ in a crowd of around 4.8k. A win would be good, but expecting a hard fought match and a draw.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Shrewsbury looked a really poor side when we played them away, but have picked up under Jackson and certainly seem quite hard to beat, conceding very few goals. I still think we have more quality than them, but we really need at least one of Koumas or Jennings to start.

With Crewe playing Wolves and Carlisle away at Preston, a victory might finally see us pull away a bit from the bottom four. With all the turbulence off the pitch this week, Saturday would certainly be an opportune moment to finally secure back-to-back wins.

I would imagine the gate will be just over 5,000, as Shrewsbury are expecting to bring at least 500. It will be interesting to see whether the positive news regarding the appointment of the new CEO /season ticket offer etc. tempts any of the floating voters back on Saturday.
 

bigmart

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Ian Muir
A game we certainly musnt lose and I think it will be 1 1
 

Ian

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Aldo
Wouldn't it be nice to win 2 on the bounce! We always seem to struggle against The Shrews but I think our confidence is up with the last win. Midfield is a worry but I'm confident the lads will put in a good shift, but its not going to be easy. I think we might just nick it but I wouldn't be surprised if we draw.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
It will be interesting to see whether Goody has a part to play tomorrow after Jeremy Butler's statement that the club must 'restore its integrity'......

I would also expect another mini-invasion of Norwegians at PP ahead of Liverpool's game on Sunday.
 
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
There's an argument that this is potentially our toughest match until the end of the season. There is so much at stake. A win would be a great result, but I'd settle now for a draw and predict 1-1 as neither side will want to lose.

My argument is based on the fact that although all the remaining games are against teams higher in the table, they won't matter as much to our opponents. If Crawley win on Saturday, they will have 49 points with a game or two in hand on the teams below, so will be virtually safe from the drop. Gillingham, Sheffield United and Bradford are mid-table and have nothing to play for at either end of the table. And by the time we play Leyton Orient, I expect them to be certain of a place in the play-offs but with no chance of making the top two. This gives us hope of getting something from any of those matches.
 
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
Glad I was wrong. Look forward to the reports. It sounded like Max was the star. Two wins on the bounce at last, three games unbeaten. I'm beginning to think that maybe John McMahon has what it takes to be our manager. It's a massive challenge to keep us up, so if he does it, I think he deserves a chance.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
An open, evenly contested game with a remarkable finish and an unlikely hero for Rovers. I think we have played better football than today in recent weeks and lost, but the effort and commitment was there once again and it was our greater quality in the final third that was the difference in the end.

Shrewsbury played some decent stuff and looked a better side than in the return fixture, and I thought we went long too early at times in the first half in particular. Koumas did not look fit and central midfield was a problem for us, particularly when Shrewsbury had five across the middle. However, we looked dangerous throughout, with Akpro and Power again having very good games. Not the first time in recent games we also showed great character to respond to the massive disappointment of conceding having led for so long.

Credit has to be given to John Mac for the surprising but inspired decision to bring Brown on for the injured Koumas. He linked up really well with Liam Ridehalgh, looked tidy and imaginative in his passing and the run and finish for the winner was superb: perhaps he is worth a second look after all. I think the back four must also be praised for some fantastic last-ditch blocks and interceptions when the score was at 1-0 and 1-1.

Man of the match Liam Ridehalgh, who had his best game for us some time.

A great end to a pretty dramatic week.
 

Ian

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We don't make it easy do we. Thought we were going to have to settle for a draw when their pressure had forced us back and we finally conceded, but great effort from Brown to win all three. Power was again impressive giving all in midfield, but Koumas was still struggling with his foot and really shouldn't have been playing.

Little nervy at times but great effort from the lads and finally it looks like we are finally hitting some good form at just the right time.
 

Boz

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Iain Hume
It was a slightly strange atmosphere at the game today. A resonance of the Hillsborough anniversary or off-field events of the last week, I don't know. Good turnout from Salop and some more Norwegians bolstered the crowd.

Rovers started brightly, might have had a penalty for handball and Max Power then put us ahead. There was then a spell where we had a lot of possession but the moves didn't quite join together or we were playing head tennis around their area. Gradually, starting with a speculative effort from the half-way line that almost caught OFW out, the visitors got more into the game without looking too dangerous.

Second-half was different. Rovers were being pushed back deeper and didn't help themselves by failing to push out when the ball was cleared. Koumas was struggling and I don't think Jennings looked fully fit either. I felt that McMahon should have changed things much earlier instead of sitting on his hands, instead of waiting until the Shrews finally equalised; header from free-kick, one of the rare times when our defence switched off. Goodi had picked up an injury, so both he and Koumas came off to be replaced by Arthurworrey and Brown.

Credit to McMahon here, Brown played well. Nothing particularly complex, a lot of simple balls, good link up play and making himself available. His goal came after some good work from Cassidy and while it wasn't struck with much power, it was placed so their keeper couldn't prevent it going in. Cue scenes of jubilation from the Rovers bench; Goodi seemed particularly animated. After another 5 minutes of normal time and 6 minutes of extra time the ref had dug out from somewhere, we held on for 3 points.

We were lucky to win this. Shrewsbury were stronger in midfield and attack, but Rovers had the better defence, even after Goodi departed, Arthurworrey was a capable deputy. However we were equally unlucky not to get something in the homes v Brentford and Port Vale so swings and roundabouts.

Agree with RLC about Ridehalgh being MoM. He did a lot more defensive work than usual, some great covering when the central defenders hadn't got back and managed to keep the awkward Taylor relatively subdued. All four defenders and Max Power who was popping up everywhere were contenders.

I still think that it's going to be a slightly higher bar than normal for safety and we probably need to average a point for the remaining 5 games to be safe.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
I agree with most of Boz's post apart from the comment that the Shrews were the stronger attacking side. I thought we were more inventive in the final third all game and we were rarely threatened in open play; their poor goalscoring record is the reason they will be relegated. I agree that they had the edge in midfield for long periods, largely due to Koumas and Jennings both playing with injuries.

On another issue, the attendance was encouraging today: the biggest home turnout of the season for any game other than the £5 Gillingham match, which suggests the off the field events this week have persuaded some of the stay aways to return.
 

Boz

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I thought quite a few of our attacking moves didn't come off and Lowe and Akpa Akpro in particular weren't as effective as they can be, while Cassidy kept trying but things aren't falling for him. Perhaps I was being generous about the Shrews attack although Jon Taylor was one of the better players on the park.
 

bigmart

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A much needed 3 points in what was a really nerve wracking game especially at the end. After a bright start when I thought there was a blatant handball in the penalty area we took a deserved lead and looked quite good but they started to come back into the game as the first half worse on.

They came out stronger in the 2nd half and were able to push us back and we were far too deep and the ball was not sticking up front. Koumas was clearly struggling with his injury and at times Jennings too, after the equaliser it looked like we would have to settle for a point at best but Brown came on and scored a good goal and we just hung on.

MOM Ridehalgh who was excellent, Power & Taylor both played well and Brown did well when he came on.

Cassidy still disappoints me and how he plays every game is a mystery, Akpa Akpro contributed little and was struggling for the last 20 minutes but a vital win gives us a little breathing space.
 
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Goodison
A great result, although we did make it hard for ourselves - we should have been out of sight in the first 20/25 minutes. Both Koumas and Jennings looked unfit and I was surprised that a change wasn't made at half time as we were getting overrun down the middle. I thought Taylor, Goodison, Power and Brown played well, whilst Ridehalgh looked a lot better than he has recently and JLAA gave us a bit of unpredictability and pace. Cassidy looks completely bereft of confidence and is a waste of a shirt at the moment, he also seems to be damaging Lowe's game as he's scored a lot fewer goals since Cassidy arrived. I would like to see Stockton given a go upfront or JLAA with Brown coming in on the wing.

Player Ratings:

OFW 5: Made some important saves but his kicking was appaling and he was partly at fault for their goal by not coming off his line as usual.
Pennington 6: Solid if unspectacular, needs to improve going forward and is probably still working out how he missed the target with that header from a yard!
Taylor 8: Did well defensively and showed leadership when Goodison went off injured, needs to sort out his passing still.
Goodison 8: Rock at the back and organised the side well, great to see him coaching from the sidelines at the end - the players clearly listen to and respect him.
Ridelagh 7: Solid defensively and seemed to grow as the match went on, perhaps could have been a better going forward with his passing.
Power 8: Ran the midfield from out wide and then through the middle and grabbed a goal and an assist.
Jennings 6: Put the effort in but wasn't his usual self and didn't look fit.
Koumas 5: Pretty anonymous all game, again didn't look fit and probably shouldn't have played.
JLAA 7: Lively when Rovers were going forward and did well for Power's goal, but he does go missing when the team is on the backfoot.
Lowe 6: Ran the channels well and got in some good positions but seemed to rush a few chances, unlucky not to get a penalty after Grandison barged him over.
Cassidy 3: Clearly has no confidence and looks like he doesn't want to be there. Did well in the build up to Brown's goal though.

Subs:
Arthorworrey 7: Came on and did well, I think he'll be a very good player with a bit experience.
Brown 8: Scored the winner and didn't put a foot wrong, won a great header as well against the 6ft 2 Grandison. Should start next game.
 
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