Its not our day, and what a bad upset saturday at home as well, Rovers a struggling bad, you could tell in pre training games and the cup games, and the players we have brought in are not doing there job as expected, this could be struggle season for Rovers if they dont start getting it right.
Well that was disappointing. I was really looking forward to the start of the league campaign and I fancied us to do well today. But that’s two home games I’ve been at and we’ve lost both of them – I’m starting to see what the problem might be!
Probably as abject a performance I have seen from the Rovers in a long time. We started brightly enough and for the first 15 or 20 minutes we looked as if we were up for it and might take the lead. We went forward from the traditional kick off (ie 2 men passing to one another, traditionalists that we are) and created a few decent chances.
First, a good move down the right saw Ryan create a bit of space for himself. He played in a great ball that Ferry managed to get on the end of but couldn’t convert. Then Ryan went on a decent run, ghosted past a couple of Brechin defenders and managed to get in a decent shot from just outside the box. He hit it straight at the keeper though so it turned into a fairly ordinary save which was a shame. Nevertheless, the early signs were promising. It wouldn’t last long though………………..
Ross Davidson hit another good shot from distance which again didn’t really ever look like going in but the signs were encouraging. Highlight of the half for me was when Reidy clattered into Ally giving away a very worthwhile free kick. Ally went down as if he had been shot, stabbed, mugged, poisoned, bludgeoned, anaesthetised, tranquilised and generally abused. It was hilarious and a fairly predictable warm welcome back to Cliftonhill. To be fair he got his own back on Reidy 10 minutes or so later with a fairly robust challenge of his own. So, honour’s even.
And then it all started to go a bit wrong. A fairly ordinary cross into the box was helped on by Ross Dunlop and when it came to the Brechin forward he put in a great header. It looked goal bound all the way but somehow keeper Ross got his hands to it; pushed it onto the post and then managed to scramble the ball to safety on the line. Brechin made some half-hearted appeals claiming the ball had gone over the line but it didn’t look in from my unbiased position in the stand. I say half-hearted – all except for Ally. I had forgotten what a whining, moaning, miserable git he is. He was constantly in the referee’s ear and wasn’t for letting this go. To Rovers credit we broke forward quickly and fed the ball through to Ryan who found himself about 20 yards out and with the keeper advancing. He probably chose the right option and went to dink the ball over the keeper. However the execution was poor in truth and the ball flew high over the bar. It was a great chance and should have seen us take the lead.
After that Brechin began to come into the game a bit more. A lot of their better play came down our left hand side and poor Kyle was having a bit of a torrid afternoon. A long ball over the top exposed Kyle’s lack of pace and a Brechin chance was created but fortunately missed. However worse was to follow. A Brechin corner was over hit to the back post and with the Brechin player chasing the ball, facing the disused stand, heading out of the box and to nowhere in particular, with nothing on and no danger whatsoever, Kyle obviously thinks it’s a good idea to put in a badly judged tackle from behind. What he was thinking I do not know. It was a pretty sound penalty award and he can have no complaints. Up steps the Brechin forward to send Ross the wrong way and it’s 1-0.
At that stage of course we had been creating a few chances and although scoring goals is not always our strong point I did feel a goal would come for us. Alas I was wrong. Well wrong as it turns out, apart from a brief rally towards the end.
Into the second half and Brechin kept the Rovers players waiting on the pitch for a bit of time which always annoys me. To be fair though you could have been forgiven for thinking it was the Rovers players who had stayed back in the dressing room. We didn’t offer much in the second half at all. Brechin worked their way forward and managed to spring the Rovers offside trap (for what it was worth at any rate). In reality Ally totally skinned Kyle down the left hand side. Kyle put his hands up in appeal but for what I don’t know. Maybe offside, maybe divine intervention, maybe his mammy. What he should have been appealing for was more pace. A lot more pace. Ally put in a good ball – the kind that is quick paced just in behind the back four and difficult to defend. And it was duly touched in at the far post.
So 2-0 and I’ve got to say I thought Brechin were worth their lead. They were well organised, looked hungry and for long periods they were the better team. As far as the Rovers go – where do I start? Defensively we weren’t bad in truth. Apart from Kyle I thought the rest and the keeper did okay. Fish was his usual warrior-like self and put in a fair few robust/meaty/hard as f*** challenges as you would expect. Ryan Wallace worked hard and looked really good in spells. He had an overhead kick well saved onto the post at 2-0 and deserved a goal for the acrobatics alone. He had another chance later on and if a goal was going to come it was going to come from him. It was between Fish and Ryan for man of the match for me………………but not for the sponsors.
As for the rest of the team; oh dear. Ferry had an early chance, after that he was anonymous. Ross Davidson made a few decent chances but was subbed after about an hour which kind of summed up his day. He did win the sponsors man of the match award though, which made me think they must have been relatives of his. Willis hit a great free kick which brought out a stunning save from the Brechin keeper but apart from that you could have been forgiven for forgetting he was playing. Ferguson – not even sure he touched the ball before being hooked in the second half. Our second Ross Stewart came on as a sub and looked okay and for me did enough to merit a start ahead of any of our front players apart from Ryan next time out.
So a fairly damning report but that’s how I saw it today. Before I finish though the really, really annoying thing for me today was the lack of anyone wanting to take a shot at goal. Time after time (after time after time………) we looked as if we wanted to walk the ball into the net. We over-elaborated in front of goal every time we got within shooting distance. No one, with the possible exception of Ryan, wanted to take a shot. The net result was we constantly made (at least) one pass too many and Brechin always seemed to come away with the ball. Frustrating to watch and not how you win games.
Having said all of that I did enjoy chunks of the game. We play some decent stuff at times and particularly in the first 20 minutes we looked decent. After the Brechin goal though they sat in a bit and we seemed to quite quickly run out of ideas and puff if I am honest. Big improvement needed all round or it is going to be a long hard season.
The ref today wasn’t the worst I’ve seen. He let a fair few tackles go and kept his cards in his pocket when others would have been throwing them about like confetti. He waved away a Rovers appeal for a penalty for handball in the second half but it would have been the softest of soft penalties if he had given it.
Crowd today was 228. That is poor. So well done to the folk who ventured out today but it does make you wonder what the crowds are likely to be like in the middle of winter if we can only muster 228 on a fairly bright and mild day like today. Or indeed at the midweek game coming up.
Too early to hit the panic button but losing at home to Clyde (albeit not in the league) and now Brechin is not the start any of us had in mind.
I think young needs to get in the side and start getting things worked out with the players for a few games to give order, and were away to peterhead next week who have no point on the board, and look at East fife since there come up, there doing a rovers like we did last season.
Disappointing performance, even more disappointing crowd. Need to try and remain positive, it's very early days. Need more punters to come through the turnstiles, at a loss to suggest what the club can do in that respect.