McGhee's anger at tackle that left Bristol Rovers' Danny Woodards with broken leg
BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee was angered by the challenge which has left player-of-the-season Danny Woodards with a broken leg – and a race to be fit for the start of the next campaign.
The right-back was left writhing in agony after a bad tackle from Dagenham & Redbridge substitute Jake Reed in the final minutes of their 4-0 weekend defeat.
McGhee ferried Woodards to hospital, where it was revealed that he has a fractured fibula, which is likely to mean three months out of action.
The manager advanced up the touchline to remonstrate with referee Mark Haywood, who hadn’t even looked like booking Reed until McGhee intervened. “I thought it was a reckless challenge and an unnecessary one at that stage of the season and at that stage of the game,” said McGhee, pictured.
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“I wasn’t happy about a lot of the decisions and Matt Harrold got nothing when there were a lot of fouls on him that would have got us further up the park if they’d been given.
“If they can only get the ball off you by fouling you, then the referee should step in. We didn’t get our fair share of that.”
McGhee was disappointed with a lacklustre finale to the campaign after another away performance which came in stark contrast to the team’s recent home displays.
“It was a disappointing way to end the season, though I thought we started well enough,” he said.
“For the first 20 minutes I felt we passed the ball well enough and looked as though we were up for it.
“I don’t think we recovered from them scoring the first goal and never had enough about us to do that, whereas on other occasions we have shown a lot more determination to come back after conceding.
“Defensively we weren’t a unit. It was almost as though people were being asked to defend individually and were being left exposed.
“Part of the reason for that is that we didn’t hold the ball well enough up front – it kept coming back at us in the second half.”
Rovers handed a league debut to new signing Conor Gough, an 18-year-old who has agreed a two-year deal from Charlton for next season, but had to be signed on an emergency loan.
First-choice Scott Bevan underwent a wrist operation last week and stand-in Lance Cronin was sidelined by a toe injury, but McGhee felt Gough could not be blamed for the defeat.
“We couldn’t really fault Conor for any of the goals. He’s an 18-year-old keeper who has only been with us for a week or so. His performance was encouraging, and he did everything he could,” said the manager.
Rovers also handed a debut from the bench to 19-year-old striker Mitch Harding, one of a clutch of youngsters to have signed new deals.
“He created our only chance of the second half and worked very hard,” said McGhee.
“He’s been in our youth team for two years, and we wanted to give him an opportunity today. We were able to do that, but it was unfortunate that it was those circumstances. Nevertheless, he made his debut and did quite well.”
McGhee also praised the 660 Rovers fans – many in fancy dress – who made the long round-trip to back the team.
“Our fans were in a little bit of a party mood, so perhaps the players were the same!” he said.
“ In all seriousness, they were outstanding. They turned out in their numbers again and many of them were in fancy dress.
“The away support since I’ve been at the club has been absolutely fantastic and we know we have to give them more than that.
“We want to improve our away form and our home form, as good as that has been, next season.”