• Virtual match ticket - Papa Johns Trophy final

    Guest, you can now purchase a virtual match ticket for the Papa John's trophy final against Sunderland.. All donations go towards charity and help support the local community. Click here to get your virtual ticket!

Walsall v Rovers

Joined
3 Apr 2007
Messages
1,274
Fav Player
Goodison
So the new season is finally upon us, any thoughts or predictions for the season/this match?

I think any success this season will largley depend on how well Rowe, Power and Atkinson perform in midfield as I can't see Wallace returning any time soon and his abscence was a key problem last season. If we can get Koumas fit again that will make a big difference, as he would give those three players some much needed experience. To have any chance of promotion we also need two strikers getting at least 30 goals between them - as Yeovil demonstrated last season (in Lowe we have one striker capable of doing this, much depends on if Stockton, JLAA and Sodje will step up a level). Keeping the squad fit will also play a key role as injuries were another major cause of our demise last season, and our squad size (perhaps Ronnie will need to change a winning team now and again).

After the start last season anything is possible, but I hope expectations aren't too high as several key performers from last season have gone or got older (Gibson, Zoom, Robinson, Cassidy, Palmer).

My prediction for the end of the season is 8th.

As for the match against Walsall, I would anticipate this line up:

OFW/Loanee Keeper

Holmes Taylor Foster (Goodison if not fit) Horwood

Bell-Baggie Power Atkinson Robinson

Lowe JLAA.

If OFW isn't fit I hope Ronnie plays Mooney as I don't see the point in having a back up goalkeeper who you aren't willing to play when he's needed. However Ronnie has made suggestions about signing a random loan keeper which would be disappointing if that happens, as I feel Mooney should be given a go if OFW is unfit and in the JPT.
 

bigmart

bigmart
Member
Joined
29 Jul 2009
Messages
3,366
Fav Player
Ian Muir
think we will win 2 1 at Walsall think we will probably end the season round 12th again
 
Joined
15 Mar 2010
Messages
9,055
Fav Player
Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
I think we will line up on Saturday as follows:

Keeper
Horwood Taylor Foster Holmes
Robinson Atkinson Power Thompson / Akpro
Sodje Lowe

Bell Baggie has been awful in pre-season and I don't think he will get near the starting line up. Sodje seems to have formed the best partbership with Lowe, while JLAA has blown hot and cold recently. However, he did well on the left side at Wrexham so RM may be tempted to start him there, although Thompson deserves to be selected ahead of him as he has been excellent in the warm-up games. I actually think Rowe looks a better player than Atkinson - a terrific prospect actually - but apparently we are obliged to play the Huddersfield player under the terms of the loan agreement.

This is definitely a game we should be looking to win as Walsall have lost their three best players and look a weaker outfit than last season.

As for the season as a whole, I think we will be competitive again, and will stay well clear of relegation. Our squad looks stronger than last year, with a better balance between youth and experience and greater depth in key positions, but our first eleven is perhaps marginally weaker: time will tell. The partnership of Lowe and Sodje looks most likely to produce a number of goals which, as has been commented above, will be crucial if we are to challenge for the top six.
 

TranmereWire

Member
Joined
2 Jul 2013
Messages
5
Fav Player
Ian Goodison
I think we will line up with
OFW
Holmes Taylor Foster Horwood
Thompson Power Atkinson Robinson
Lowe Sodje

I think we will end the season about 10th
 

Ian

Super White!
Admin
Joined
21 Sep 2005
Messages
8,531
Fav Player
Aldo
Well, it looks like Mooney was never going to be given the pick after Ronnie had a loanee lined up.

I think we'll draw this one.

Regarding seasons expectations, mid table.

@roverstillidie Lowe is likely to get us the goals but 30+ is pushing it I think. We have more numbers up front but we don't have the same quality. Akpo's are more likely but I think they would top 10-15 at a push. We may have scored a lot during pre-season, but it means nothing really.
 

andrewesq

Faith Light Strength
Member
Joined
25 Jun 2013
Messages
118
Fav Player
Billy Woods
I agree 30+ is a massive ask, will be happy with a return of 20+ goals from Lowe and 15 + from Akpro, if we can throw in a few other goals from elsewhere we should be nearer top than bottom of the league!
 

Higgy

Member
Joined
1 Jul 2010
Messages
447
Fav Player
Dave Higgins
Score 1- 1
Finish 10th
Team:
Mooney - will play

Holmes Taylor Foster Horwood

BellBaggie Atkinson Power Robbo

Lowe Sodje

Would prefer Thompson to BB
 

bigmart

bigmart
Member
Joined
29 Jul 2009
Messages
3,366
Fav Player
Ian Muir
Higgy, Mooney will not play Fonners will.
 

Boz

Member
Joined
30 Sep 2005
Messages
6,231
Fav Player
Iain Hume
Think this will be a draw. Walsall lost their 3 best players over the summer, so will not be as strong, but their home form was very impressive last season.

In terms of line-up, the side Ronnie is likely to pick;

OFW/Loanee
Holmes Taylor Foster Horwood
Robinson Atkinson Power JLAA
Lowe Sodje

I've not been to a single pre-season game, so find it hard to judge how players are shaping up. I would prefer to see JLAA alongside Lowe up front instead of the target-man in Sodje and Thompson given the start his decent reported pre-season merits. I would also play Mooney if OFW unfit and am concerned about the 'must play' terms of Atkinson's loan.

In terms of how Rovers will do this season, it is very much dependent on how many goals we get. Lowe has goals in him and JLAA is certainly capable of creating his own, less sure about Sodje. The first choice defensive line-up isn't much weaker than last season, although I'd still like Gibson back, there is little cover or competition for places. Given inevitable injuries and suspensions, it will be pot luck of the quality of replacement cover loaned in. I would agree a mid-table finish seems most likely.
 
Joined
3 Apr 2007
Messages
1,274
Fav Player
Goodison
@roverstillidie Lowe is likely to get us the goals but 30+ is pushing it I think. We have more numbers up front but we don't have the same quality. Akpo's are more likely but I think they would top 10-15 at a push. We may have scored a lot during pre-season, but it means nothing really.

Yeah I was referring to the strikers as a collective getting 30 goals between them rather than one individual player. If they don't get 30 goals between them, we'll need to discover some kind of Antony Kay type player in midfield/defence.
 
Joined
15 Mar 2010
Messages
9,055
Fav Player
Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Abject performance by Rovers today. We started terribly, conceding after two minutes from (again) the second phase of a corner and the performance unravelled from that point onwards. Defensively I have never seen us so poor: the back four played like they had been introduced on the coach, with Ash Taylor and Danny Holmes having their worst games in a Rover shirt. In the first half in particular, we were incapable of even basic defending - proper shape and marking - with OFW forced into action virtually every time Walsall attacked. Horwood was also unconvincing defensively and only Foster comes out with any credit.

Walsall are a nice footballing side but will probably finish no higher than mid table, which makes today's performance all the more disappointing. In addition to our defensive woes, we were laboured in possession, played too many long balls and gave no service to Lowe up front.

I generally agree with RM's decisions on tactics and team selection but today I think he got a number of things wrong and the following areas in particular concern me:

i) If we are going to play Sodje up front (who actually worked quite hard today) we have to have reasonable variation of play and can't simply hack long balls in his direction. Our success last season came from a passing game, with good movement up front, and today's football felt like a definite retrograde step.

ii) While Atkinson is a decent player on the ball, he is not as physical or energetic without it as Palmer was last season. The back four was left horribly exposed at times today, with Max doing far too much of the physical work on his own. These problems could be the result of our inability to keep possession, but until Wallace is fit we might have to consider playing a three in midfield, at least in certain games.

iii) I think the decision to play JLAA ahead of Thompson was wrong, as Akpro has been poor in pre-season and probably contributed to our defensive problems, as I am not sure he protects the full back as well as a natural wide player. The decision to bring Bell Baggie on ahead of Thompson baffled me and must be deeply damaging to Thompson's confidence: he was one of our best players in pre-season and formed a great understanding with Lowe, who did not receive one decent cross into the box today.

Hopefully today's defensive problems were a one-off, as the back four are still relatively unfamiliar with each other and there does not seem to be any doubt that they are decent players individually. Fortunately, we still have another 45 games to get our act together. Just disappointing that the biggest Rovers away following for an opening fixture in years saw such a pathetic performance.
 
Last edited:

Ian

Super White!
Admin
Joined
21 Sep 2005
Messages
8,531
Fav Player
Aldo
Very disappointing to be a goal down after 2 mins. 2 major problems today. Defensive, which was shocking. Schoolboy stuff.. Secondly, no service to front men. If your going to play a poacher like Lowe and want him to score the majority of the goals, give him the ball.

Like RLC says, it's early days but we need to be much better. First 30 was a complete right off.
 

bigmart

bigmart
Member
Joined
29 Jul 2009
Messages
3,366
Fav Player
Ian Muir
A very disappointing score to say the least and by the sounds of things a very poor performance.

I don't think there will be any changes yet but we do badly need some defensive cover urgently.
 

Boz

Member
Joined
30 Sep 2005
Messages
6,231
Fav Player
Iain Hume
It was quite puzzling when Ronnie changed the line-ups partway through pre-season playing Sodje as a target man and JLAA on the wing. Results seemed to go downhill after that, although the higher quality opposition was also a factor. Ash Taylor plays best on the right-side yet started on the left of central defence. None of the central midfielders on the books seem obvious defensive midfielders, so why didn't we try to loan someone who'd be more comfortable in that role rather than Atkinson? Thompson seems to have been given no reward by the manager for his good pre-season form. While I accept RM's post-match comment that they weren't playing all long ball in training, but did almost from the off on Saturday, he has to accept more responsibility for the squad he's assembled and playing people out of position.
 
Joined
15 Mar 2010
Messages
9,055
Fav Player
Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
I don't think our major problem is the quality of the back four, as I doubt that individually and collectively they will ever play as poorly again as they did yesterday (although I am not sure about Horwood's defensive capabilities). Rather, it is the lack of a natural defensive midfielder that is the issue and until this problem is sorted we won't be able to function effectively as a team. Theoretically, Atkinson and Power should be able to exchange defensive duties during a game, with one sitting as the other goes forward. However, they are both very inexperienced and it can often take young players a number of years to develop that kind of understanding with a midfield partner.

In the pre-season games I saw, James Rowe played the holding role in midfield most effectively. However, as we are obliged to play Atkinson, if Rowe is to fill the defensive role Max Power must be left out, which would not be ideal given his development in the last nine months.
 
Last edited:
Joined
1 Oct 2005
Messages
4,219
Fav Player
Alan King, Barry Dyson
Nobody has mentioned the five bookings. Our discipline was very good last season, but our only fullbacks now each have a yellow.
 
Top