It will be Garry Kenneth and Tom Parkes who will hold the responsibility of shutting out the Torquay attacks and the two are looking like a more than capable partnership. Kenneth, who has been captain in the absence of injured Matt Gill, has been colossal alongside the technically gifted Parkes, and there are signs there that the two can go on to become a formidable duo for strikers to face over the coming years. Despite conceding at Burton Albion last weekend it was a solid Rovers performance at the Pirelli stadium and a point is not disastrous considering their position in the league table. It was disappointing to concede our 1 goal lead in the second half but it was important not to relinquish our decent recent form and we didn't.
We were without striker Derek Riordan against the Brewers and, alongside our lengthy list of long-term casualties, meant we were down to the bare bones. Youngsters Ellis Harrison and Ross Staley earned call-ups to the substitutes bench as a result and although they didn't feature it was great to see two centre of excellence graduates in the first team squad. Despite Riordan's absence, Mark McGhee fielded 4 strikers from the start; Eliot Richards partnering Tom Eaves up top, Joe Anyinsah on the right wing and David Clarkson in central midfield. It certainly gave us more of a spark going forward with plenty of players instinctively wanting to get their names on the scoresheet. Alongside Clarky and Anyinsah in midfield was starlet Oliver Norburn (CM) and Fabian Broghammer (LM), both of whom put in further impressive performances. There is no lack of offensive quality in the team these days but we still seem to struggle to make our chances count and McGhee made no secret of his disappointment that we hadn't gone 2-0 up before Billy Kee's equaliser. Still, there's plenty of encouragement to take from our forward play and confidence will be high among the team that we can score goals tomorrow afternoon, with or without Riordan, who was rated as doubtful earlier this week.
At the back, Kenneth and Parkes were again flanked by Jim Paterson and Matt Lund who appear to have seen off the challenge of other players for their starting berths. Lee Brown has been competing with Patz for the left back position, whilst Michael Smith has failed to nudge Lund from his unfamiliar right back role since returning from compassionate leave a fortnight ago. Both have performed solidly in recent weeks but Lund's place could come under further threat next week as player of the year Danny Woodards could be ready to return to first team action. This will surely strengthen our already tight defence even further as Woodards was sensational last term. His attacking play combined with his athleticism at the back help to make him arguably the best right back in the bottom two divisions - everybody at the club is looking forward to having him back playing again.
Our visitors come in to the match on the back of a narrow penalty shootout defeat to Yeovil Town in the JPT on Tuesday evening. A number of players were rested for the clash, which ended 2-2 after 90 minutes, and will return to the line-up tomorrow, including the aforementioned Rene Howe. The Gulls always pose difficult opposition for us and I'm sure tomorrow will be no different. Manager Martin Ling is a wily old fox and will make sure his charges are well prepared for what will be a much louder atmosphere than they experience at home. Even though they are a good team I see no reason why we can't defeat them on our own patch.
It's a crucial week as we go straight back in to action this midweek away at AFC Wimbledon before travelling to Accrington Stanley in a week's time. With full fixture lists taking place on these matchdays, the league table could look very different on October 28.
Up the Gas!