3:00pm, Saturday 12th February 2022
The Memorial Stadium
The Gas welcome Mansfield Town to The Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
After Tuesday evening’s shambles, who knows which Bristol Rovers team will turn up this afternoon. We will either get hammered by a very good Mansfield side, or scrap a narrow victory.
Both sides have been on good runs of form, Bristol Rovers had the blip against Oldham but Mansfield have been solid. Mansfield are firm playoff contenders, whilst Bristol Rovers still languish below mid table.
This will be a very tough game and the hope is that we will raise our game to meet the challenge that Mansfield will pose us today.
I am going to be optimistic and go for a narrow home win, but taking an unbiased view then that is the least likely outcome.
1-0 The Gas take all three points in a tight game.
My thoughts on the Mansfield result was that overall it was a good draw. One point gained against a very in form team. We held them defensively and created some good chances (in the second half).
This point would have felt a whole lot better if we had won at Oldham, but there you go.
The problem that we have is that we have been a lower mid table team (with potential for higher) for the whole season so far (60% of the season completed. Nearly two thirds). If we are going to reach the playoffs then we need to go on a run of wins. Remember that the only league table that matters is the on at 5pm on Saturday 7th May 2022. If we scrape into the playoffs on the final day of the season by goal difference then job done.
We do continue to drop points, which is worrying at this stage of the season.
Back to the game. It was not a particularly entertaining game. Both sides seemed unable to fashion a number of clear cut chances, so I guess that both defenses had a good day. Having Conner Taylor back in the side was a key factor in that. Really good to see James Belshaw back in the side. I am liking the higher crowds though. I imagine the big turnout from Mansfield helped boost the figures though.
The next few games are Sutton United (5th), Stevenage (17), Leyton Orient (16), Exeter City (4th). If we assume 74 points will get us into 7th position at the end of the season (using an average of two points per game from now on), then we will need 8 points from these four games (minimum). This is doable if we beat Stevenage and Leyton Orient. That’s a big if.
Using the above logic, the draw against Mansfield was ok. The loss against Oldham was not.
I really liked JB’s per-game message (via email). He is exactly right and we all want to have a positive experience at The Mem. The coaching staff and the players also have to do their part and deliver on the pitch.
I am still hopeful for a strong finish to the season, a playoff push would do wonders for morale and atmosphere at The Mem.