U’s 1-2 Bristol Rovers: Hung, Drawn & Quartered

Ninety minutes. A few minutes of injury time at the end of either half, say a hundred in total. That’s all we ask of our team. One hundred minutes a week of decent football. What were the U’s faithful rewarded with on Saturday? Maybe twenty-five minutes of quality football at best, and that’s being generous.

Twenty of those minutes came at the start of the game, when it looked for a while like United might have turned a bit of a corner. Three shots on target, an early goal, lots of passing and movement. Harvey Knibbs putting in an excellent cross for Sam Smith to finish superbly. Then it all fell apart. those same old defensive errors, that same lack of concentration letting the opposition back in the game. We’ve got a lot of injuries at the moment, so it’s hard to be too harsh on those that are starting, but it’s been clear to everyone in the stands for some weeks now that Greg Taylor isn’t up to the job any more. He’s been a great servant to the club, and we won’t forget him, but he needs taking out of the team before he totally ruins that legacy. Luckily the club have moved to bring in Ryan Bennett and we’re sure that as soon as he’s back to fitness he’ll be one of the first names on that team sheet, at Greg’s expense.

It’s wrong to single out Greg though, as Okedina had an absolute howler, the type of game we thought was behind him, and new left back Steve Seddon had a disastrous debut, being jointly-culpable for one of the goals, getting booked, and then leaving the Abbey in an ambulance having fractured his cheekbone in a clash with Will Mannion. Will we see him again? Who knows at this point, it truly feels like the return of our ‘banter era’ we thought we’d left behind.

There’s no point dissecting the rest of the match, we weren’t good enough across the park – we bought on Lankester who looked bright, but too late and we bought him on with Ironside who doesn’t suit Lankester’s game style. Joe desperately needs to play with a second striker, but we don’t have one, or if we do Bonner doesn’t wasn’t to play that formation.

What needs to change then? People are obviously starting to question Bonner, and with the Cowley brothers available those calls will surely get louder. For me, I don’t think Bonner is the issue here, although he definitely has some faults. We need to bolster our midfield, urgently. Digby plays best with a May or O’Neil next to him, Simper and Worman are both very different players, and there is an argument for trying them both in midfield, despite their relative lack of exprience, thus giving Digby a rest as he looks knackered.

Our strikers are good, we know that. They can score goals, but they’re not getting the service to do so at the moment. We’re shoehorning in a #10 when we haven’t got anyone who can play that role well, apart from Lankester who can’t do anything when we’re chasing the game. If I’m honest I don’t know what we can do, we simply don’t have the squad size to try something radically different, but it looks as if that is what is required. It’s going to be an important January transfer window for sure.

This has been a bit rambling, and a bit more negative than usual, and that isn’t just me. The NRE was silent yesterday and it seems that the fanbase is struggling with watching United be crap after the success of the past couple of years. We need to be loud, proud and intimidating again. Support the team. Sing the songs, new ones, old ones, the classics. Get everyone behind the side. God knows they need it right now, even if we don’t think they deserve it.

Man of the Match: Liam Bennett. A bright spark once he came on and fitted into the team well.

Soundtrack of the Match: Bjork – Play Dead

One thought on “U’s 1-2 Bristol Rovers: Hung, Drawn & Quartered

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  1. “Our strikers are good, we know that.”

    Not in terms of being able to score goals at this level, they’re not!

    Sam Smith is the best of the bunch and he’s scored just 3 goals in his last 21 games!

    I’m amazed Bonner has said we don’t need a striker.

    We all know about our embarrassing lack of goals at home and we’ve hardly been banging them in away from The Abbey!

    Scoring just 5 goals in our last 12 games tells you we simply have to bring in a forward who knows how to put the ball in the net if we want to stay up.

    I know 8 points from 15 games is a disgrace and I know our performances since September have been depressing to watch but I really don’t like the fact that a growing number of fans want Bonner out, after all he’s done for us.

    We wouldn’t be in this division without him and although this will probably change in the coming weeks, it is a fact that we haven’t been in the relegation zone since we got promoted.

    We may look nailed-on for relegation at the moment but Bonner deserves the chance to see the season out and I personally think he deserves the chance to get us back up again if we go down.


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