Updated: Aug 8
The loss of Maguire was a major blow for us but if we can keep in the promotion race until he recovers, then he'll give our run-in a great boost on his return. Tuesday's win was a real shot in the arm for everyone and with Grigg off the mark I'm expecting him to keep scoring. I hope we'll stick with Catts and Leadbitter as it worked out well against Gillingham. Now that we're finally getting goals from corners I'll be looking forward to some serious action every time we get one. Of our rivals, Portsmouth are at home to Barnsley so if we win today, then a Portsmouth win would be best for us but a draw would be okay too while Luton are at home tomorrow and should win. I've never been to Bristol Rovers' ground before and was half-thinking of going on spec without a ticket but decided against it so it'll have to be SAFSEE for me again.
Bristol Rovers are just above the relegation spots but I see they've only conceded three more goals than us so scoring is their problem. If we can keep our defensive lunacy to a minimum, I think we'll get a win today so my match prediction is 2-1 to us.
When I got the team news around 2.30 I was pleased to see Watmore back, as I thought he wouldn't return for a while, and also Catts and Leadbitter still together. When I got the match online our fans were making plenty of noise and I was glad that we were playing in red and white. Watmore was playing just behind Grigg with Honeyman and McGeady on the flanks. It was all Bristol in the early stages and the most dangerous moment was when Catts played a dodgy back-pass to McLaughlin which the latter had to hurriedly boot away to safety. We managed to rally and won the first corner of the game in the twelfth minute but it came to nothing. Our defensive sloppiness was in evidence again with Flanagan being criticized by co-commentator Gary Bennett who also said we were playing too many high balls into the box. I thought we would've learnt that lesson. O'Nien received the first yellow of the game midway through the half and some of the referee's decisions were hard to fathom for the commentators. O'Nien made up for it a minute or two later when once again he got on the end of a move in the box and hit it home from six inches out. The goal came from another Leadbitter corner. The match was flowing much more from end to end and if we could snatch another goal, I reckoned that would do it. We were defending solidly with the maligned, in some quarters, Dunne heading lots of incoming balls away. It remained 1-0 at the break and though it'd been a game of few chances, we'd capitalized on the best one. Portsmouth and Barnsley were drawing and Charlton were losing so the overall picture was positive.
Bristol won an early corner but we cleared it and survived a handball shout. James was soon booked for a foul and we conceded a free-kick on the corner of our box so there was plenty of early Bristol pressure. We fought back and in the fifty-fifth minute we won a free-kick that McGeady swept around the wall and into the left side of the net to put us 2-0 up and was his eleventh goal of the season. I had a feeling that we'd get a third before too long as Bristol were obliged to come forward more but Clarke-Harris had a free header from a corner that went just over the bar so Bristol were by no means finished. We brought Morgan on for Watmore midway through and he'd made his mark but we needed to take care of him. Dunne was booked for a foul after sloppy play from Catts had given the ball to Clarke-Harris though thankfully the resultant free-kick went over the bar. With less than twenty minutes on the clock we were looking good for a win but we'd have to keep it tight. Wyke came on for Grigg and we still had one more possible change to make. Bristol were doing most of the pressing and we were conceding too many free-kicks. Power replaced McGeady to much applause with around eight minutes left and surely it was in the bag? Morgan had made an impact with a couple of great runs but we couldn't finish them off with a third goal. Wyke was again guilty of a bad miss when once more Morgan set him up with a great chance in the box. Anyway, despite McLaughlin having to save from some more sloppy defending, we kept Rovers out and it ended 2-0.
Another win and a clean sheet while we've gained two points on Portsmouth and Barnsley. We've only got to beat this lot again and we're at Wembley. Things are looking a lot better than they did a short time ago.