Leroy Rosenior: Baldock's scoring record is something Bristol City cannot ignore
DEREK McInnes would have been really pleased to have beaten Peterborough last Saturday – in what had been widely labelled as a must win-game – to secure a long-awaited victory at Ashton Gate for the first time in some four months.
City fans couldn't have asked for any more than see four goals and three much-needed points against a fellow relegation rival – but isn't that what makes the defeat at Millwall only a few days later all the more difficult to swallow?
I have to say I just couldn't understand what was going through Derek's mind when he left Sam Baldock out of the side that started at the New Den.
I know I'm not in the hot-seat and it is always easy to talk in hindsight, but I did find that decision baffling after Baldock had scored twice in the previous game. It just didn't make any sense to me.
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Of course, Derek will have based his decision on a number of factors like the way the opposition sets up and he is the person with more information at his disposal than anybody else. I can imagine, however, that Millwall would have been delighted when the team-sheet arrived without Baldock's name on it – I reckon there might have been a few eyebrows raised inside the City dressing room as well.
The changes Derek made at half-time suggested to me that he may have accepted that his starting line-up was a mistake. I just feel that when you get your first home win since August and score four goals then why not just go with the same formula in the next game? If it ain't broke don't fix it! City, perhaps, would still have gone and lost the game even if Baldock had started up front, but at least Derek wouldn't have left himself open to criticism for an inconsistent team selection policy.
It just seems to me that after taking two steps forward with good displays against Peterborough and Ipswich, the Millwall game was a big step back – even if the second-half performance was much-improved.
It will be interesting to see what team Derek selects when City begin their FA Cup campaign at Blackburn on Saturday. Will Derek really have a go at making it through to the next round? Or is the FA Cup a distraction the club do not need considering their precarious league position?
The FA Cup is, in my opinion, totally unimportant in the context of Bristol City's season and for that reason there is little pressure on Derek and the players – particularly after the results Blackburn have had in the last couple of games. The only result I would certainly not be hoping for is a draw. City don't want to be playing any extra games, so why not go there and have a go.
John Ward, meanwhile, is settling in nicely at Bristol Rovers, who have enjoyed a fairly profitable Christmas in terms of a points return. Four points from two games and a first win in over two months is a great way to start the new year considering the way in which the players ended the last one. Progress has been slightly hampered by a couple of postponements – but I actually think John won't be bothered about those at all. I reckon Rovers will certainly be a lot more competitive by the time the re-arranged fixtures come around. John, meanwhile, worked very quickly to do business at the beginning of the transfer window and I think he has made a couple of excellent signings.
I was surprised when I heard that John-Joe O'Toole had signed for Rovers – but what I wasn't surprised about was the fact that he was voted man-of-the-match in the win over Plymouth. He'll offer Rovers something they have been missing all season – a player of experience in the middle of the park.
I don't know much about the young lad Tom Hitchcock, who has signed for QPR, but someone I do know a lot about is Steve Mildenhall – a goalkeepeer I once signed on loan when I was manager at Gloucester City when he was a youngster trying to find his way at Swindon.
I always knew Steve would go on and carve out a useful career in the game. The word I think is most suitable to describe him is 'reliable'. I think he is an excellent goalkeeper at this level and Rovers would be hard-pushed to find anyone better at this time.
What Steve will offer John is experience and security in a key position that has been a problem area for Rovers in the last couple of months. He's not particularly spectacular, but is spectacularly consistent and a good character to have around the dressing room.
I'd expect John to add another one or two experienced players to his squad before the transfer window closes and I'd fancy Rovers to be sitting comfortably in mid-table by the time April 27 and the end of the season rolls around.