Mark McGhee: Bristol Rovers' season is in danger of petering out
MARK McGhee paid tribute to promotion-chasing Crewe Alexandra after they beat Bristol Rovers by a three-goal margin for the second time this season.
The Pirates' boss rated the Railwaymen the best League Two side he has seen so far – but warned that his own side's season "is in danger of petering out."
Crewe, who won 5-2 at the Memorial Stadium on New Year's Eve, completed a comfortable double with a 3-0 victory at Gresty Road, racing into a two-goal lead inside the opening six minutes.
"I'd describe Crewe as the best team I've seen in this league this season," said McGhee, pictured.
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"We gave them a hell of a lot of help with the first two goals – but that apart, they were by far the better team. They were more fluent, more cohesive, sharper, quicker and they had one or two players who were outstanding.
"We had 15 minutes at the end of the first half where we got to grips with it and closed them down, but the disappointing thing was that our finishing during that period was poor.
"All game it was wayward and unconvincing, although I felt we had enough to have scored at least one goal if we had showed a little bit more concentration and better finishing."
Missing injured talisman Mustapha Carayol with a recurrence of the hamstring problem which has hampered him recently, the visitors were also without left-back Jim Paterson in a side which showed four changes from the 2-2 draw with Gillingham on Good Friday.
"There were one or two people who played well. Aaron Downes came back in and did quite well against a difficult forward line and Danny Woodards, who had been struggling, beforehand, had a decent game," said McGhee.
"But Crewe looked far more cohesive than we did and gave us a bit of a lesson in how far we still have to go. Our ball retention and quality all over the park has to be better.
"Our season is in danger of petering out. We lost today and only drew the previous two games, so two points from three games isn't good enough and isn't going to get us into the top half.
"We have a set way of playing at the moment and we know that if we don't have Muzzy Carayol, we are a much lesser team because he is a matchwinner.
"We had to improvise with Tom Parkes at left-back because Jim wasn't fit and this was Aaron's first game back, but we are better than we showed today – although we still have a way to go before we are as good as Crewe.
"I'm trying to be fair to people and give everybody an opportunity. Aaron and Gary Sawyer had both been out through injury, so I wanted to give them games – and I want to give Wayne Brown a run-out at some stage."
Rovers return to action on Saturday when they take on Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium.