Glaring defensive errors spoil a return to form as Wycombe steal a point…
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Rovers, early season promise has lapsed somewhat into old habits. Yes, two games without a win is far from a crisis but the late winner against Barnet and a fortuitous victory over Colchester papered over the cracks somewhat, and now the team must regroup.
By all accounts we were woeful at Blackpool and the away win at Portsmouth seems a bit of an outlier through this recent dip in performance that began in defeat to Luton just over a month ago. Encouraging then to see Rovers on the front foot from the start against Wycombe this past Saturday.
Early pressure failed to tell on the scoreboard, James Coppinger missing a glorious chance at the back post after good work down the right flank. That side would provide joy for Rovers throughout the game as an open Wycombe side failed to cope with the surging pace of Matty Blair.
Disappointing then to see the home side go a goal down in the 19th minute as Ross Etheridge, deputising for the injured Marko Marosi, dropped a routine cross allowing Matt Bloomfield to hook in the opener. A tough pill to swallow after a strong start for Rovers.
The players responded though, dominating proceedings through to half time and turning the game around impressively. Coppinger broke the defensive line down the right, sent in a wonderful low cross and Tommy Rowe, injured in doing so, showed great commitment to get on the end of it and level.
Ten minutes later and Fergie’s men had taken the lead, John Marquis weaving his way around half the Wycombe team before taking out the goalkeeper and finishing well for his seventh strike of the season. It was a superbly crafted goal that typified the game up to that point: Rovers’ superior skill winning out against a physical side with no end product.
However, Rovers retreated into their shell after half time – a common complaint of late – and sorely missed the injured Rowe, whilst Wycombe began to cause problems up front following the introduction of former striker and man-mountain Bayo Akinfenwa. Failure to kill the game off proved costly as Etheridge again messed up, spilling a nothing shot from distance straight to Bloomfield to tuck away the equaliser.
Unlike the Barnet game, the home side were unable to rally and find a late winner, and indeed it could even have ended with a loss as Paris Cowan-Hall (famously named after glamour-puss Paris Hilton), a nuisance all afternoon, squandered an easy chance deep into injury time, heading wide when unmarked just yards from goal. A 2-2 draw on the day, but it certainly felt like a defeat.
John Marquis – Atoning for misses in previous games, Marquis scored a superb goal here to show he can step up and fill the boots of injured strike partner Andy Williams. All his best attributes were on show here: Tenacity, finesse and a quaffed hair do.
Riccardo Calder – The Villa loanee has been criticised for toothless displays recently but given a starting berth here proved a good move by the manager as Calder looked lively, energetic and productive. More of the same needed from him now Tommy Rowe is out.
Matt Bloomfield – The easiest brace of his career, simply put. He should send Ross Etheridge a big cake as thanks, although the Rovers #1 would probably drop it anyway.
Ross Etheridge – There can be no denying Etheridge cost us the points. Wycombe never looked like scoring until he intervened with some catastrophic errors. This was his big chance to stake his claim with Marosi out, but if he features in another league game this season now I will be amazed. He has blown it spectacularly.
Tommy Rowe – Suffering what appears to be a serious injury in the first half, the absence of Rowe will be a big blow to the team. The midfielder has not long since recovered from a long-term injury and will be bitterly disappointed, especially after what had been arguably his best 45 minutes of the season.
Lee Probert – Allegedly a Premier League ref, I wouldn’t like to see him officiating in the Northern Premier. This was hands down one of the most shambolic, pathetic displays I’ve witnessed from the man in the middle in years, even putting panto villain Trevor Kettle to shame.