Rovers v York

Gray

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Ian Goodison... who else!
And the new season is here again already. New division, new manager, new squad, new strategy, who knows what's going to happen this season!

I'm concerned by our new look central defence but elsewhere on the pitch, on paper, we look strong and capable of competing at this level, although we do lack depth.

I'm on holiday this week so can't make it to the game, will be watching Final Score from behind the sofa probably.

Hoping for more smiles round PP this season.
 

Sparky

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Chris Greenacre
I'm looking forward to Saturday with the usual start of season optimism that hopefully will still be there at 4:45pm.

I havent been able to go to any friendlies so I'm looking forward to seeing the new faces. York bring a side with an experienced manager (Nigel Worthington) who, I think, took them to the play offs last season or thereabouts so this will be a test for us. A decent result for them against Sheff Utd last week saw poacher Ryan Jarvis grab a brace so the new centre halves need to be on their toes. Surely Fonners is staying now so the XI may be something like:

Fonners
Holmes / Holness / Ihiekwe / Woodards
Power / Laird / Koumas / Baggie (or Rowe / Gill although neither offer any width)
Stockton/Richards

I'm going for a score draw.
 

Higgy

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Dave Higgins
Think we could sneak this and even get a clean sheet. Think RE has a soft spot for Rowe.
My team would be:
OFW
Holmes Holness Ihiekwe Woodards
Laird
Rowe Koumas Kirby
Rowe
Stockton/Richards

Stockton and McDonald (late sub) on the score sheet.

4,300
 

Higgy

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Dave Higgins
Don't know what happened there - team should have read:

OFW
Holmes Holness Ihiekwe Woodards
Laird
Rowe Koumas Kirby

Stockton,Richards
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
I think the team will be as Higgy suggests, save for Power starting instead of Rowe. I am looking forward to Saturday as the pre-season has been the most positive we have had in some time and the new manager and the majority of his signings have impressed so far.

York were in the play-offs last season, so Saturday will give us a good idea of how we stand relative to the likely promotion contenders. The bookies don't fancy us to go up, most of them placing us as 12th or 13th favourite, but I think we might surprise a few people this season; our first eleven looks stronger than average at League Two, but staying clear of injuries will obviously be key. I am just glad we are starting the season with a squad completely free of loanees.

I predict a Rovers victory and a gate of just over 5,000.
 

Ian

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Aldo
I'm in the same boat as Sparky and haven't been to any friendlies so really looking forward to seeing the new faces and how the team gel.

2-0 Rovers win with some positive attacking football.
 

Boz

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Iain Hume
Anxiety is my main emotion as the season approaches. While the starting xi are capable of holding their own, the lack of any depth to the squad is a big concern. A week or so ago, it sounded like we were going to sign a couple more players, but apart from a non-contract for McDonald and an offer of a short-term deal for Bruna, nothing. Doesn't look like we'll be loaning anyone either. Rob Edwards talks a good talk, but what will the reality be like when the season begins in earnest? The last time we were relegated, Rovers were tipped for a prompt return, but Dave Watson's inept management put a stop to that. This time, even the most optimistic aren't confident of a swift promotion. 442 magazine predicts 17th and that wouldn't surprise me.

York as the opener will be a tough test. They made it to the play-offs, through a mix of strong defence and grabbing a result. The kind of opponent it will be harder to play free-flowing stuff against. Jason Mooney returns to PP, it will be interesting to see which of the keepers performs best. The visitors will bring a decent following, so there should be a good atmosphere. Expecting Rovers to line up as suggested above.

Prediction: A crowd of ~5k to see the first game of the Edwards era. Either a draw or narrow win for the visitors.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Anxiety is my main emotion as the season approaches. While the starting xi are capable of holding their own, the lack of any depth to the squad is a big concern. A week or so ago, it sounded like we were going to sign a couple more players, but apart from a non-contract for McDonald and an offer of a short-term deal for Bruna, nothing. Doesn't look like we'll be loaning anyone either.

Well, we have signed Matt Hill as well now, who always impressed when he played against us for Sheff Utd, albeit he is now coming to the end of his career.

Our squad is of a similar size to nearly all teams in League Two, so I find your excessive pessimism hard to fathom. The squad also looks better balanced than it did this time last year, with several utility players capable of filling in several positions; I would also see the absence of loan players as a definite positive.

As for comparing Edwards to Watson already, give the man a chance for heaven's sake. All the signs from pre-season have been positive, so I don't think the comparison with a man who was sacked after two seven goal thrashings in friendlies is warranted.
 

Boz

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Well, we have signed Matt Hill as well now, who always impressed when he played against us for Sheff Utd, albeit he is now coming to the end of his career.

Our squad is of a similar size to nearly all teams in League Two, so I find your excessive pessimism hard to fathom. The squad also looks better balanced than it did this time last year, with several utility players capable of filling in several positions; I would also see the absence of loan players as a definite positive.

As for comparing Edwards to Watson already, give the man a chance for heaven's sake. All the signs from pre-season have been positive, so I don't think the comparison with a man who was sacked after two seven goal thrashings in friendlies is warranted.

Where do you think we'll finish this season then?

Our recruiting over the summer has not set the pulse racing and as I've said previously, given the monies coming in from player sales, it's hard to see with the quality of our recruits has been so average, set against L2 rivals. The suggested policy of recruiting to develop younger players and sell on doesn't seem to have happened, of the new signings only Ihiekwe, Richards possibly Holness fall into that category, the rest are players past their best. That doesn't mean they're incapable of doing a job; agree that Hill will provide good defensive cover for example.

I'm not comparing Edwards to Watson, merely how the current situation compares to that when we were last relegated. Rob is a great unknown, even more so than Watson who had a short stint care-taking Everton prior to joining us. Obviously I hope he does well, though think it's over-egging the pudding to claim all the pre-season signs have been positive, the only game I went to (Marine) did not inspire.
 
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Where do you think we'll finish this season then?

Our recruiting over the summer has not set the pulse racing and as I've said previously, given the monies coming in from player sales, it's hard to see with the quality of our recruits has been so average, set against L2 rivals. The suggested policy of recruiting to develop younger players and sell on doesn't seem to have happened, of the new signings only Ihiekwe, Richards possibly Holness fall into that category, the rest are players past their best. That doesn't mean they're incapable of doing a job; agree that Hill will provide good defensive cover for example.

I'm not comparing Edwards to Watson, merely how the current situation compares to that when we were last relegated. Rob is a great unknown, even more so than Watson who had a short stint care-taking Everton prior to joining us. Obviously I hope he does well, though think it's over-egging the pudding to claim all the pre-season signs have been positive, the only game I went to (Marine) did not inspire.

I think the consensus among the majority of fans is that the pre-season has been good. I have no more idea of where we will finish than anyone else, but I would very disappointed if it was 17th; I think we are capable of better than that with the players at our disposal.

We have not necessarily had to bring in loads of youngsters to give youth a chance - although Ihiekwe, Richards and Bruna come into that category - as Edwards has been willing to play our existing younger players. Stockton, Rowe, Power and Kirby have all come to the fore in pre-season, whereas under Ronnie most of them had bit-part roles. For me, that has been a positive step and I am happy with the blend of youth and experience we have now.

I share your frustration that we have not splashed the cash in the way some competitors have, particularly given the income that came into the club in the summer, but our squad still stands up against most of those in the division and I think Edwards has recruited well given the constraints he is operating under.
 

Ian

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I think the players we have are more than capable of doing the job. The big question now is can the manager get the best out of them and make us a force this season. Only time will tell..
 

bigmart

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Squad looks better now we have some back up, biggest concern for me is where the goals will come from.
 
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Very disappointing performance and I am just glad we took a point from a game where we did not really deserve anything.

York looked a side with a settled pattern of play whereas we were disjointed for much of the match. We struggled to cope with their direct, aggressive pressing game and never really got the ball down and passed it as we can. Worthington had obviously done his homework to in making sure that our back four were put under pressure every time we tried to play from the back and too many balls were just punted aimlessly forward, particularly in the first half. We have far more quality than them in the centre of midfield, but we did not get Koumas and Power on the ball enough.

The positive for me is that as efficient and well organised as they were, York did not create a great deal in general play and did not have fantastic individuals for a team that finished in the play offs last season. I don't think we could have played much worse, but defensively we looked pretty solid, Woodards in particular outstanding, and once we settle and gel as a side I still think we have good quality for this level.

The substitutions were strange: I can only assume that Power and Koumas were injured, as I thought they were two of our better players, and the decision to throw on Odejayi at the end smacked a bit of naivety, particularly as it left us down to ten men when Holness was forced to go off. I thought Cole Stockton was far too isolated for most of the game, with balls just punted to him around neck height. He is not a conventional target man and is most effective when the ball is played in to his feet, not in the air. In addition, I thought the shape of the team was wrong as Richards was stuck out on the left wing for much of the game, leaving Cole with two centre halves to grapple with.

The real positive was the contribution of James Rowe when he came on: set Baggie up with a glorious opportunity, which he fluffed, and then produced a fine finish for the equaliser. Generally, I think the game was good learning experience, particularly for the youngsters, as a lot of teams at this level will try to stifle us as York did today.

Certainly room for massive improvement, but I think we have got enough talent to make an impact in League Two in the longer term.
 
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Nixon
For me:-

OFW - Looks solid enough

Holmes- did a job and again looked solid

Ikwieickleseee- Looks a fine player for this league

Holness- Not sure he is a captain, but put in a fine performance, under a lot of pressure.

Woodard- Very very tidy, Top player in the first half.

Laird- I know he isn't in a flash role, but never seen a rovers player give the ball away so many times, very poor

Power- Should be head and shoulders above in this league, but never stood out as much as his hair did. Often stopped when the ball was still in play. Also noticed he often ripped his own team mates to bits if they made a mistake

Koumas- Didn't get on the ball enough, did show signs of class though.

Kirby- tried hard, but it never came off for him, will defo get better as the season roles on.

Stockton- put in a real shift, battled all game, but often left stranded even if he won the ball again there two centre backs

Richards- was too wide, but never looked confident or have 'swagger' like a flash/fast forward should have.


I think the formation beat us today, forward 3 where spaced out. But the major problem is Laird, if he is going to be the holding midfielder, he needs to learn to a pass to a white shirt. In the first 10mins, be sold Danny Holmes down the river with a horrific pass. Which ended up with DH on the floor in pain.

Best performance today
1. Woodard
2.Rowe (came on hungry and powerful)
3. Hume , even when he did the halftime raffle draw he look better than Lard :) (Laird)
 

Ian

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Aldo
Agreed with the above. It was disjointed and quite poor. I'm glad we got a point. None of the new guys really stood out and Laird was awful.

Like a said a few weeks back, I think we have to give time for them to gel so it's too early to start making predictions. Agreed with RLC about the opposition too. Not wonderful but worked us hard and we do need to be much better than we were. Unfortunate with the injury but at least we didn't give up and I'm glad we didn't get beat at home.
 

Boz

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In the first half we were poor. It seemed that things had been said at half-time, because we came out brighter. I didn't see the point of the Power substitution, while RE's post-match interview suggested Koumas' was tactical. Some suicidal play from Laird, who I agree was very poor today let to the corner from which York scored. Opponents scoring from a set-piece; how unusual. Things seemed to be getting worse, when Holness, the sponsors MoM went off injured with no subs left. However Rowe saved our bacon, with a last minute volley, which Odejayi had a role in setting-up.

Things learned today;
1. This league will be no cake-walk. York, with both their front-line strikers missing, were the better team and if they'd been more clinical in the final third, things could have been much worse.
2. We're in need of a holding midfielder in the Jennings mould. The midfield was largely by-passed today and when the ball went through the middle, Laird kept giving it away. I wonder, now Matt Hill has joined, whether Woodards could fill that role.
3. Stockton doesn't work as a lone striker, nor Koumas in the 'hole'. Richards, who worked very hard first half, should have been deployed closer to Stockton.
4. Rob has got to think more carefully about substitutions. It was puzzling how two of the poorer players in Laird and Kirby lasted the full 90 minutes. I disagree that introducing Odejayi was naive, arguably it contributed to us getting a point and in the situation we were in it was a risk worth taking using our last sub.

MoM Both full-backs had good games, but Ihiekwe shaded it for me; he did the simple things well.
 
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We're in need of a holding midfielder in the Jennings mould. The midfield was largely by-passed today and when the ball went through the middle, Laird kept giving it away. I wonder, now Matt Hill has joined, whether Woodards could fill that role.

I am still hopeful that longer term Laird will be able to perform this role. However, from the pre-season games I saw, I think a narrow 4-4-2 suits this group of players better than the system we played today. Stockton and Richards have a good understanding when they play as a front two, and Koumas needs to be played centrally so he can receive the ball from the back four and initiate passing moves.

Despite the poor performance, it was good to see a decent crowd at PP today: the second best in the division and the biggest first day attendance for six or seven years.
 

Boz

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I don't think Laird has played that role before though; he's more of a box-to-box player. Agree with your comments on forwards and Koumas.

The crowd was good, just hope that the more casual weren't deterred by today's showing.
 

Ian

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Things learned today;
1. This league will be no cake-walk. York, with both their front-line strikers missing, were the better team and if they'd been more clinical in the final third, things could have been much worse.
Whilst I would say York were the better team, don't forget we also had our fair share of chances but fluffed them in both halves. Notably Stockton in the first half and Bell-Baggie in the second.

On a side note, I think Bell-Baggie could be a handful in this league but needs to be more consistent. He's a tricky customer when he wants to be. Odejayi looked OK when he came on. On a final note, I hope we don't persist with Kirby, he's just too raw.
 
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