Monday, December 24, 2012

Eaves And Riordan Depart

John Ward today announced that Scottish striker Derek Riordan had been allowed to leave early from his short-term contract and that Tom Eaves was set to return to Bolton at the conclusion of his loan spell. This will be a bitter blow to Ward who will now have to recruit 2 strikers on top of the strengthening needed elsewhere.

Riordan joined in September, on the same day as Eaves, and came with quite some hype. He was the third all-time top scorer in SPL history and Gasheads felt that he would come in to League Two and score goals for us. Many, including myself, overlooked the fact he was not wanted by any club in Scotland and hoped he just needed a break. Mark McGhee gave him that chance but opted to play him on the left and as a result he didn't score in any of his 12 appearances for the club. It became apparent that he wasn't as committed to the cause as maybe some of the other players were but he did commute from his home in Scotland every couple of days in order to train and play. We all wanted to give him time to prove himself but there was never any sign that his quality would be forthcoming. Ward's decision to release him will come as no surprise and he explained this morning that 'it was pretty clear he wasn't going to pull for the team so I said to him to go back'. Good riddance Derek.

Eaves' imminent departure is incredibly disappointing but again not completely unexpected. The young marksman had performed well in his spell with the club, netting 7 times in 15 games. He showed his inexperience on occasions by trying to do too much when in possession but he was surrounded by poor players and just took it upon himself to shoot whenever possible. He has a good strike on him and scored bullets from long-range as well as close-range tap-ins. The lad has a lot of potential and will go on to be a decent Championship striker in my opinion - thus influencing Bolton's decision to retain him at the end of his loan. And, of course, the fact we are bottom of the Football League would also be a factor in their decision not to let us have him back.

Fortunately we do get to keep him for 2 further games so he won't return to the Reebok Stadium until after the Cheltenham game at Whaddon Road on Saturday.

But what do we do next? We don't score many goals as it is but without Eaves we're without our only threat. Fortunately January is just around the corner and Ward will have the chance to seriously strengthen the squad. Potentially we'll need a new goalkeeper, a defender or two, a midfielder, a winger and 2 strikers, so he'll have his work cut out to bring players in of a decent quality. They'll need to make almost instantaneous impacts too if we're to pick up points over the next few weeks. There have been no rumours so far but speculation amongst Gasheads on Twitter has lead to Nathan Ellington being linked (again!) as well as tall striker Jabo Ibehre, who is currently on loan with Ward's former club Colchester United. It'll be interesting to see who we're able to attract here to turn our fortunes around but whoever they are I wish them well - we need to get through this together!

Next up is our Boxing Day clash with Aldershot Town at the EBB Stadium which is a real 6 pointer. They're within touching distance of us in the relegation zone and as we need to be beating the teams around us we have to go there with confidence and optimism. 3 points would be the perfect start - anything else we can't yet consider. Come on Rovers.

Up the Gas!

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