So City kick off the Peters era with a much improved performance and end up sharing the spoils 0-0 in a cracking game at a sodden St. JP this afternoon. City lined up: Miller; Power, Santos, Curran, Hiley; Pettefer, Cronin, Walker, Bazza; Flack, Devine.
The first half saw BR in the ascendancy, with huge chunks of possession, and two livewire forwards who, despite all their best efforts, couldn't for the life of them find a way past a defiant Big Kev. Chances for City were at a premium, although Bazza had an effort cleared off the line, Devine shot across the face of goal in a move that was crying out for someone to get on the end of it, Pettefer bent a ball half an inch not enough from the edge of the area and Flack produced a good save from their keeper in a big muddy scramble. But having said all that, none of them were really clear cut, and BR bought the best out of Kev who made at least three now customary game - and possibly season - saving saves. But the tackling was fierce, the passing a little astray and the commitment full.
The second half saw City come out rampaging, but BR managed to weather the storm and produced some half decent stuff theirselves. Bazza was withdrawn midway for Coppinger, and later Pettefer made way for Roscoe. Again, City's chances were rare, the best being a long range Roscoe free kick looped up high which was swerving unerringly towards the top corner before their keeper somehow palmed it over the bar. Kev found himself less employed in the second half, although at times the defending was all hands to the pumps, particularly from Flack, who cleared a number of dangerous corners. Both sides kept going till the bitter end, desperate for the winner but at the same time mindful not to concede too.
So a good game, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Course, the irony is that had we played like that once or twice earlier in the season then relegation would be something that other teams have to worry about. I think of the Boston game a mere fortnight ago - today's performance would have wiped the floor with them. Big mentions to Kev, Santos, Curran in his first game back from his sabbatical at Tivvy, Walker, Pettefer and Flack. All were immense today. The back two looked a little out of shape at times but then, what do you expect? Curran hasn't played in a City shirt in months and Santos has had more partners than the twice weekly wife swapping club. Pettefer scurried and scampered well, and Walker ran the midfield with an air of superiority. Flack did good work up front, constantly winning the ball and also back in his own box, defending as well as anyone else.
I hate to do this after such an enjoyable game, but a couple of things do bother me: Bazza seemed a weak link until his inevitable withdrawal, but Coppinger fared little better. His insistence at trying to stay in his own half as much as possible was entirely not what he was there for. Particularly as their nifty and rather quick left back (shame the same can't be said about ours) was asking for someone to run at him all game. Our left back too - hmm. Still content too often to bang the ball aimlessly up to Flack and Devine in the hope that they'll get hold of it. Which it has to be said to their credit in the main they did. But too often again there was little or no support for either, which surely must account for their paltry recent goal returns. Some decent crosses a bit more often would mean they could afford to let the odd one slide knowing there would be another shortly. All this banging it up high and mighty does no-one any favours, least of all Devine. And why do we insist on defending deeper and deeper the longer the game wears on? With the two front men not exactly Linford Christie and Carl Lewis, it's unlikely that packing the defence and hoping for a breakaway is the best way of scoring a goal.
But whatever, today was a much better offering than the recent rubbish served up against Boston and Kiddy. Commitment, tackling, a bit of passing and a bit of urgency. Both teams tried hard all game and it was only the pit ch and their own skill levels that stopped them achieving what they set out. That we didn't lose has to be a bonus on the back of five straight defeats, so it should be looked at as a point gained rather than two lost, even if the three points would have been infinitely more desirable. And finally a word about the crowd - a whopping 5700, which even accounting for Rovers' allocation is still well over 4000 City fans. They kept behind the team all game, and the Rovers fans were in good voice too which helped the entertainment with a cracking atmosphere. I suppose the only losers will be the local rag, who were desperate for a bit of crowd trouble to report on. Thankfully, before during and after I saw none, which is how it should be.
See you all on Tuesday night against Wrexham, where hopefully we can turn today's commitment and effort into a result. Be there, you know you want to.