Liam Hoden: Fleetwood test will provide true indication of Rovers’ response

Gary MacKenzie

Gary MacKenzie

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Let’s face it – you knew Rovers would respond against Ipswich Town, didn’t you?

The magnificent performances against higher league opposition in pre-season provided a hint Rovers would hold their own for long periods against Ipswich.

But it will take more than an impressive cup performance to banish the memory of last weekend’s horror show at Port Vale.

Rovers, quite simply, cannot be as flacid, woeful and toothless as that again. It is almost unthinkable that they could be.

How they fare on Saturday against Fleetwood Town will provide the best indication of the extent to which they took on board to mistakes of last week.

Further injuries to a squad that was never the biggest in the first place ensure grabbing that first win will not be easy.

Gary MacKenzie should return to the side – thankfully so given Rob Jones’ newest neck issue. But MacKenzie will have to defend a lot better than he did last weekend, along with the rest of the side.

Graham Alexander’s Fleetwood are flying after netting eight goals in a five day spell last week, earning wins over Bury and Colchester United in the process.

After starting the season with a 4-4-2 formation, Alexander now lines up 3-5-2 and it certainly appears to be delivering the desired result.

Rovers were dominated in midfield at Port Vale and run the risk of the same happening again this weekend as Fleetwood overload the middle of the park and look to set free their flying wide men.

Getting hold of the ball, slowing the tempo and taking their time building attacks will be key.

Rovers’ best chance of success will come from the wide areas, springing quickly into the gaps with balls over the top and drawing out a central defender.

Sticking with the 4-4-2 formation used against Ipswich seems the most sensible approach.

Though, given the lack of personnel, it does restrict the opportunities to alter the game from the bench should it not be going Rovers’ way.

Prediction: Rovers 2 Fleetwood 2