By Jon Harries
The final four games of the season and the final midweek game of the season.
Saturday saw play off chasing Portsmouth (with their most famous fan John Westwood with the bell outside Stadium MK) hoping to notch another win to keep the pressure on those around them. In a very entertaining game it was the visitors that had the first chance when John Marquis hit an overhead kick that was superbly saved by Fisher.
The Dons then asserted their possession based style and Matt O’Riley was very unlucky to hit the post after some great build up play beforehand. Will Grigg was then pulled back when a tap in looked on the cards, but no penalty was given, and he also had two shots in succession cleared off the line, then the defining moment of the game. Laird down the right causing Charlie Daniels no end of problems all day and was fouled just inside the box…… penalty. Fraser as per usual stepped up and made it 1-0 sending the keeper the wrong way.
The second half started just as entertaining as the first, Fraser hitting the bar after a free flowing move, then Pompey hit the bar not long after. Fisher was then forced into a good save from Jack Whatmough from a free kick headed back across goal.
Whatmough then deservedly got sent off for a rash challenge on substitute Charlie Brown, from then on we had the control and composure to see the game out. A very important performance and three points after Tuesday’s implosion against Lincoln City.
Bristol Rovers really need to start winning football matches with six points between them and safety. They are on their third manager of the season after Ben Garner then Paul Tisdale tried to fire up the Gas, and then came the controversial and hard hitting Joey Barton who was tasked with the great escape. The funny thing is Rovers were expected to be a dark horse for the play offs with players like Zain Westbrooke and Brandon Hanlan brought in during the summer, but It just hasn’t happened at all.
Inconsistent performances and the constant changes mean it’s a nervous time to be a Gas fan. Six defeats in 8 games at the worst possible time is not the way to survive. On paper the squad should be doing much better Anssi Jaakkola is a solid goalkeeper, Max Ehmer, Luke Leahy, and former Don George Williams are very good L1 defenders and Alfie Kilgour will play at a higher level in the future, also Luke McCormick has shown flashes of potential in a struggling side.
The other former Don in the Gas ranks Ed Upson is suspended after his sending off in the defeat to Lincoln on Saturday.
Sam Nicholson is the player in focus, and what a talent, he reminds me a bit of Jack Grealish in his movement and his ability to create a moment of magic out of nothing. Six goals and three assists for the former Hearts and Colorado Rapids player and he is just about the only bright spark for Rovers this season and any chance of survival depends on whether he and the strike force can step up when needed.
Predicted Line Up
Lewington – Darling – Jules
Laird – Kasumu – Surman – Sorinola
Fraser – O’Riley Brown.
Great game for Brown to get some minutes from the start with his energy and intelligent movement and is worth an experiment. Otherwise why change a solid winning side??
I’m predicting a 3-0 away win. We face 3 potential banana skins in our last four games but if the Portsmouth performance is the gold standard then the win should follow on Tuesday night.