Friday, December 21, 2012

Taking On The Millers

John Ward takes charge of his first game back at Rovers tomorrow afternoon as we take on promotion-chasing Rotherham United at the Mem. It couldn't be a tougher start for Ward who is desperate to get off the mark as quickly as possible with 24 league games left to save our season. As I write this we lie bottom of the Football League due to Barnet leading Burton Albion. If the players aren't motivated to turn that around when looking at the league table before going to bed tonight they never will be. 

It will be undoubtedly one of the toughest games we've faced so far, particularly after their recent results. The Millers are heading in to the game in confident mood having dispatched of League One Notts County 3-0 at Meadow Lane in midweek. That's no mean feat considering how well the Magpies have done this season so Steve Evans' men will be predicting another 3 point haul. That's not the only reason people dislike Evans and I'm sure he'll receive a warm welcome when he emerges from the tunnel pre-match. He's mentioned in previews that he has a lot of respect for Ward and has yet again highlighted that the Rovers support is proud and 'noisy'. He'll be telling his players not to let the atmosphere affect them but it's our job as supporters to make sure that we get on their backs from the very first kick. The club are hoping for a big crowd to get behind the team and two stands are apparently sold out already. When you factor in the reduced admission prices, and the fact season ticket holders can bring a friend for free, there's no reason why a crowd in excess of 7000 can't roar the boys on to victory.

Cian is back and available again
Cian Bolger is fit for selection should Ward decide to play him although Michael Smith is out. We've little other team news as Ward is keeping his cards close to his chest although we do know Ellis Harrison is in the squad. It will be intriguing to see who he starts and in what position he plays them in. Can he get the best out of former Carlisle player Joe Anyinsah? Can he get anything at all out of striker Derek Riordan? Will he inspire a clean sheet from our porous defence? The players will know they are playing for their futures - not only at the club but in professional English football. This is as low as you can get without being relegated so they need to prove that they can be a successful part of a longer-term future with Bristol Rovers. John Ward is playing for a contract and so are the players - that's what he's told them. I'm sure it will have the desired motivational effect.

Rotherham have a number of very good players and they won't take much notice of the fact we've got a new manager, they'll just see the fact that we're bottom of the league. They won't be scared so we'll have to be the cliched twelfth man and make life difficult for them. We can do it together Rovers... we need to.

Up the Gas!

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