Bristol Rovers: Mark McGhee confident of turnaround
BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee watched his side suffer a disappointing defeat at Spotland on Saturday, but declared: “We’re good enough to turn things around.”
Rovers failed to build on their victory over Chesterfield at the Memorial Stadium, despite taking an early lead through David Clarkson’s penalty.
Goals from Andrew Tutte and Bobby Grant gave Rochdale the three points and McGhee’s frustrations were compounded by an injury to Clarkson, which saw him hobble off at the break, before skipper Garry Kenneth and Eliot Richards received red cards in the second-half.
When the manager was asked afterwards if he had endured a “miserable afternoon”, he simply replied: “We lost the game, but I don’t think ‘miserable’ would be the right word to describe it.
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“There were some good individual displays within the performance that we can take into Tuesday night’s game at Port Vale.
“The players put a tremendous amount of work in to it and I think we were a little bit hard done-by and unfortunate to lose the game.
“We got the first goal and had chances to increase that lead, but we failed to take them. What we have to do is start taking our chances and make sure we are better at defending in basic situations.
“We also need a better rub of the green as well, but we are working hard enough. There was a lot of effort and spirit in the performance and, if we continue to show that, things will turn around.”
McGhee was livid that midfielder Tutte claimed a 27th-minute equaliser for Rochdale from a corner kick routine that he had warned his players about minutes before kick-off.
“I was here (at Spotland) on Tuesday night and we’d seen Rochdale try that corner kick routine,” said McGhee.
“We worked on it in training over the next three or four days and we discussed it in our preparations on Friday night.
“We then talked about it in the dressing room before the game, yet Rochdale take the same corner kick and score from it. That was hugely disappointing and was something that could and should have been avoided.”
Grant plundered Rochdale’s second goal on the hour mark after his shot took a deflection off the head of Tom Parkes, before Rovers’ afternoon took a turn for the worst when both Kenneth and Richards were dismissed for rash challenges.
“It was horrible indiscipline,” said McGhee. “Losing the game is the worst thing, but having two players sent off is almost as bad.
“Garry Kenneth is a better player than that. The tackle he made to get a second yellow card was petulant, lazy and unprofessional. That is not what I’d expect from him.”
On Richards dismissal for a late challenge on Ashley Grimes in stoppage time, McGhee added: “Eliot is a frustrated player at the moment. When he gave the ball away he made a bit of a lunge and the referee was right to send him off.”
Both players will miss tomorrow night’s trip to Vale Park, while Clarkson is also doubtful with an ankle problem.
“David hasn’t got long to recover, but we’ll do our best to get him back and available for selection,” said McGhee. “It certainly didn’t help us to lose David at half-time and was a contributing factor in us losing the game.”
Skipper Matt Gill and on-loan defender Cian Bolger are expected to return to full training with the squad this week and are in line to be available for selection when Rovers go to fellow strugglers Wycombe Wanderers on December 1.