HAVING being knocked out of both the FA Cup and the JP Trophy in the space of four days that’s it for this season as regards knockout football - but what contrasting performances.
On Saturday at Oldham we could not have got of to a better start, Robbie Blake putting us ahead within four minutes with a well-taken goal. But it all went pear-shaped after that.
The Latics missed a chance with only Gary Woods to beat then came closer when rattling the crossbar. Unfortunately for us Oldham equalised deep into first half stoppage time then put two more past us in the second half to kill off our dreams of a money-spinning tie to help manager Dean Saunders’ war chest for another season.
I didn’t agree with Dean’s comments in the media that we had enough chances to win the tie - we just did not create anything in the second half.
I think most fans will agree that Boundary Park lived up to its reputation and it’s the coldest I have been at a match for years.
Tuesday at Crewe was a case of out with the old and in with the young blood. Rovers had special dispensation from the FA to field four players instead of the stipulated seven who had been on duty in the Oldham starting line up, due to a virus running through the club.
It was a patched up side with James Husband being given the captain’s armband, with Liam Wakefield, Josh Meade and Harry Middleton all making their full debuts.
But what a great performance we produced in dreadful conditions - rain, snow, and a gale blowing. With time running out, and Crewe winning 1-0, Rovers mounted one last attack and Chris Brown , who had earlier had a goal disallowed for offside, tapped the equaliser in the 92nd minute, much to the delight of the brave, or foolish, 157 Rovers’ fans who made the trip. The game was decided on penalties in which Robbie Blake’s effort hit the underside of the bar and it was the Railwaymen who go into tomorrow’s draw for the Northern semi finals.
But if the youngsters on show can realise their potential in the future, the club will be in safe hands and it will repay the faith Dean, the directors and youth managers have shown in the youth set-up.
Along with media manager Steve Uttley, I had to step in and do coverage of the game on the Rovers internet, not an easy task as we were right at the back of the big main stand.
The players looked like ants and it was dark but we tried to give it our best shot. But it’s not easy commentating and talking about the game for over 90 minutes.
Tomorrow sees us visit Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon Town, which should be a colourful affair. Hopefully all the players will have recovered and we can continue our wining away league sequence.
There are still a few spaces on the Supporters Club coaches, departing Retford 8.30, Harworth 8.35, Bawtry/Rossington 8.45, Hare and Tortoise 8.50, Infirmary 9am and Keepmoat car park 1 at 9.15. Ring me on 07961-727769 for more details, and for the games over Christmas.