Bristol Rovers 0-1 Southend United – Five things we learned following Saturday’s defeat

Rovers fans endured a poor performance on Saturday as they went down 0-1 to Southend in a game that was low on quality from the home side.

Rovers have made a terrible start to life at home in league One this season, losing all three home games all by the odd goal.

Saturday was the first time since December that Rovers had not scored at home.

In truth, they really didn’t deserve to score giving the lack of chances created.

Following the defeat. Here are five things that I learnt from Rovers’s display on Saturday.

  1. Fans have lost trust in the players

Like all Football clubs all their fans want is success, that winning feeling and effort.

With the Gas faithful, success has happened in recent years and that winning feeling has happened often too and so has effort given by the players.

It seems lately that winning feeling and effort has gone from the players.

Rovers have won just two games in the league since March which is worrying and the bad form is being carried over from last year.

Saturday looked like from the terrace, that the players who played Saturday lacked any effort to get back in the game and the fans rightly had every to boo- given the bad performance.

Boss Darrell Clarke eluded to fans trust in his post match interview, saying “It has been lost without a shadow of a doubt.”

Rovers players know now they need to do a lot right in the coming weeks to be back in the good books of the fans.

2. Without Sercombe in the centre of midfield there is a lack of creativity

Rovers began Saturday’s game with Ed Upson and Ollie Clarke in centre of midfield for the game against Southend.

Liam Sercombe for the fourth League game running was out on the right hand side which to me seems a real waste of time.

Once Rovers fell behind, the pressure on Upson and Ollie Clarke to be creative was  cranked on them even more and they both failed to deliver in that regard.

Sercombe may have went off injured in the first half, but without his know how and presence in the middle of the park, Rovers look a very different side.

3. The questionable tactics and selections of Darrell Clarke

Since he has been at the club, very rarely has Darrell Clarke got things wrong and very often has got things totally spot on.

So far this season, some selections and tactics he has deployed have been head scratchers to some fans.

Saturday saw him swap James Clarke and Tony Craig.

James Clarke was excellent in mid-week against Portsmouth at left-back, despite the defeat and dealt with arguably League One’s best winger in Jamal Lowe absolutely brilliantly.

His thinking to change their positions, was a strange one and one that definitely had no bearing on the injury to skipper Tom Lockyer in the warm-up.

His tactics in the two of the three home games have been very negative and in particular his decision to play Upson and Ollie Clarke in central-midfield and put Liam Sercombe on the wing.

Saturday Clarke knowing his side needed a win desperately should have been more positive and played two out and out wingers and put Sercombe in the middle with one of Clarke or Upson.

One thing we all know when Rovers lose, Clarke is first to admit his mistakes and failings and holds himself in some ways accountable.

4.   The consistency of James Clarke

The only positive this season so far has been the form of James Clarke.

He has without doubt been Rovers most consistent player this season and has done very well when he has played.

Last year was a difficult year for him as he missed most of the campaign with a torn hamstring and what was a long and tough lengthy rehabilitation.

Since he came on in the opening day defeat to Peterborough, Clarke has started every game since and has played in every position across the back-line.

His last three performances in particular have been good.

At Wycombe he scored the opener and was very strong and solid.

Against Portsmouth he dealt with the tricky Jamal Lowe expertly.

on Saturday versus Southend, he tried to change things by advancing forward from the back line when ever he could.

5. Time for some changes in the line-up

Following the first five games of the campaign many players have not been given enough time to show why they are at the club.

Rovers have had a very settled team in the five games, with few changes happening.

Players such as Gavin Reilly and Alex Jakubiak may in the next few weeks be given a chance to shine in the first team.

Whilst there are few players on the treatment table in  Joe Partington, Sam Matthews and Stuart Sinclair and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.

Darrell has shown incredible loyalty to some players so far and may be that loyalty showed be changed into a more ruthless approach.


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