Fan’s View – Bristol Rovers

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, November 3rd, 2013  


How full is the glass?

Let me have a look at that glass. Half full or half empty?

Second in the league says half full but our home record yells half empty. The fact that defeats outweigh wins at the Kasstad, where we can’t even average a measly goal a game, is dispiriting in the extreme.

I was full of praise last week but this week I can’t be other than a half empty man.

Home form – no solution in sight

There is no denying that we are a very good away side, but at home we are not that far from s***e. Okay, I’ll say it now – if we don’t crack the conundrum of playing at Minchery Farm we will not go up.

We knew last season that an improvement in home form was essential but if anything we have gone backwards in this regard. Here’s a sobering set of stats:


I don’t think that Chris Wilder has a clue how to solve this and thought his post match interview was a telling pointer as to why this is so. I can’t remember his exact words but he said something like we can’t win three or four nil every week, we’re not a team that is set up like that. No we’re not. We’re a team that is set up very well indeed for most away games, but we don’t vary this approach at home much, other than to leave the never say die spirit in the dressing room. It’s something of a recipe for disaster all round. Tim with his “take the hand brakes off man” is quite close to the nail and the head.

We may be second but I suspect that almost every Oxford fan (those that are still going to home games and those that are not) know that there is something not right at the moment. It cannot go unnoticed that the turnout of home fans was again disappointing, particularly as we were top and claim to be one of the biggest clubs in the division. A few years back the gate for such a fixture would have been a couple of thousand higher. The lack of income for a fixture like this must be causing palpitations to those who are concerned about the financial wellbeing of OUFC.

Without wanting to make any excuses for the umpteenth sub-standard performance in our own backyard I’ll say that there were things that were very much against us today. The wind was obviously a factor but we can forget that because as always it was the same for both teams. Right, now time to move on to Mr Brown the referee and his side kicks.

Mr Brown

He was one of the best referees I’ve ever seen in playing the advantage rule. At times he let play continue for a sensible period of time and if nothing of benefit accrued for the side that were sinned against he then stopped play and gave a free kick. I guess he must have studied the section of the rule book covering this over and over and over again. I also guess he was too engrossed in this to have bothered giving any of the other pages even the most cursory of glances because he was one of the most incompetent tossers I’ve had the misfortune to witness in charge of a football match. How such people are able to pass the required exams and progress to this tier of English football is a bafflement that will never be satisfactorily answered. He was aided and abetted by his linesmen.

Here’s the evidence against them as I saw it.

In the first few minutes Ryan Williams cut inside and a defender grabbed his shirt in full view of referee and linesman. Nothing given. That set the tone.

Around the half hour mark, Williams was racing through on goal (ok he was near the half way line but he is quick and there was not a lot of cover about) when he was cynically and potentially dangerously taken out. I had a perfect view from the back of the SSU. Quite possibly a red card. The referee who was much closer thought that nothing untoward had happened.

As the half drew to a close there was a nasty follow through on Michael Raynes as he played a long ball forward. Nothing given. The referee was looking away. It seems to me that he had no idea where to look for such misdemeanours. I suppose though, given his earlier inaction after the foul on Williams, he didn’t know what one was anyway.

Then there was the penalty. It was a penalty because the referee gave it as a penalty. It looked to be outside the box. TV replays confirmed this and that Jake Wright had committed a deliberate foul. But if Brown gave a penalty without showing even a yellow let alone a red? (I am right in thinking Wright’s booking was for a different incident later in the game aren’t I?) These things happen because the officials are not fit for purpose, we have to take it.

However, his behaviour after the maiming of Alfie Potter should not be taken. Well, actually it should be taken up with the FA if what Dave Kitson, who I thought gave one of the most honest and heartfelt interviews I’ve ever heard from a professional footballer, said was true. And why would it not be?

I acknowledge I was a long way away but the foul on Alfie Potter looked to me to be a really nasty one; one which can keep a player out for a considerable period of time. Tom Lockyer seemed to go in studs raised. There are claims on Twitter that Brown said Lockyer got the ball. Even if he did that doesn’t wash any more. We are no longer in the era of Chopper Harris and Norman “Bites yer Legs” Hunter. It’s all down to excessive force, intent and all that stuff isn’t it?

I’m convinced that Brown wasn’t even going to give a free kick until it became clear that Alfie was in serious trouble and excessive pain. This is my interpretation of Kit’s words on Radio Oxford. Alfie in agony with tears in his eyes says something like,”what kind of a f*****g challenge was that”. The referee with not a streak of human decency in him then threatens to book or send Alfie off.

And then there was the headlock on Kitson.


I must also mention the fact that the linesman on the South Stand side hadn’t even managed to master the basic motor skill of standing upright. It was windy, but not that windy. Instead of waving his flag as the ball went well out of play for what should have been a goal-kick he was in a heap on the floor.

The performance

As soon as this game started it became clear that Rovers had the greater urgency and commitment. Andy Whing had one of his worst games in a yellow shirt and never got anywhere near the pace of a game that totally passed him by. Danny Rose was better, but nowhere near as good as he has been in the last couple of games. We never turned up for the midfield battle.

As for the wide men I thought one was good and one wasn’t. I recall Sean Rigg making one decent challenge and beating his man once and getting in a superb cross which Beano should have done better from. Other than that he might as well not have been there. Ryan Williams on the other hand excited me again and I noticed a marked improvement in his awareness of what was going on around him. As the ball was on its way to him he was glancing around to see what the options would be a second or so later. That he still ran with it a lot and came inside on more occasions than CW wanted tells me that he had little support. We’ve not formed partnerships down either flank. David Hunt seemed so slow in everything he did that he was never going to be involved in a slick move with our young winger.

So which wide man do we take off? Unless I’m missing some vital evidence it was the wrong one. I’m also surprised that Whingy made it through to the end particularly as his head had long gone before the final whistle.

For all this we had the chances to have won this game. Beano headed over an open goal from a very good Hunt cross in the second half. Unless he can do better than that he will be stuck on 99 for some considerable time. Has the pressure got to him?

Brizzle also missed easy chances and Grappler O’Toole’s first half effort provided welcome comedic relief on another afternoon with little to laugh about.

Our defence has at last been breached – still not from open play – but on this occasion I didn’t think we looked as comfortable as usual. Wright is a centre half and footballer of high quality but left back is not his position.

I’ll start to draw this to a close with a few quotes from fellow fans:

On the announcement of our man of the match – “Raynes, a centre-half and we’re at home. That says it all”. I do agree. Raynesy had yet another good game. His rivals for MotM in my eyes were Williams for his hour and Kitson. I’m pleased there has been a lot of shouting down those who continue to insist Kits is rubbish.

In the toilets after the game – “We deserved **** all”.

As I was walking back from the paper shop on Sunday Morning Harry K pulled up alongside me, wound his car window down and delivered something like “f***ing crap”.

A bargain?

We couldn’t beat the Gasheads. The question is now, can we beat the Gatesheads. If the Conference side had any scouts present the message they will be taking back to the North East is that Oxford at home are not all that. It might only be a tenner to get in but I don’t see that as a tempting offer to other than the really committed.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 at 11:10 pm and appears under 2013, Comment, News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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