Bristol Rovers' fan's view with Dennis Payter
JUST when we thought things could not get any better, they do.
It is incredible to see that we have won three and drawn two of our last five away games since you know who left to coach international footballers.
But there is a spirit about this side which we have not seen for some time and their never-say-die attitude has never been more evident as we have now scored in our last three games around the 90-minute mark.
I have to confess that my wife and I were already heading towards the exit on Tuesday at Cheltenham as I thought the ref was about to blow for full-time when I turned to see Ollie Norburn's missile heading for the top corner. It served home manager Mark Yates right for making a substitution during the four added minutes as I am sure the goal came in that extra 30 seconds added for a sub.
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But it was no more than we deserved, as for most of the game we more than matched a side near the top of the league. In fact, we could have been a couple up in the first 15 minutes such was our dominance and we never deserved to be behind at the break.
What is such a pleasure to see lately is our very competitive midfield in Norburn, John-Joe O'Toole and Seanan Clucas. No longer do opponents carry the ball so far at our defence as they used to before they are 'challenged'.
Tom Parkes leads by example, but his captain's armband counted for nothing in the first few minutes at Cheltenham as Mark McChrystal gave him quite a rocket for several minutes for being caught out of position. It showed the professional attitude and determination to succeed we now have.
At Oxford, we again dug in, had to ride our luck a bit as you must away from home, but it was another great three points. Once again, young Ryan Brunt politely suggested he could take the penalty, but Lee Brown declined the offer. Rumour has it Blunt encroached in the box to try an unnerve Brown and make him take it a second time, but it still found the back of the net.
How we like playing at the Kassam. It is hard to believe that it is ten years since Andy Rammell inspired that win which led to us staying in the league.
On Tuesday, I thought I heard some fans singing we were "playing just like Brazil" and the next evening they must have been singing about England playing "just like the Rovers".
I just can't wait for next Saturday and that return game with Wycombe. They have also improved greatly since the lives of hundreds of our fans were placed in great danger at their place as we led 3-1. But those Chairboys midfielders might have to call for health and safety officials themselves if they advance too far towards Norburn, O'Toole and Clucas.