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Monday, 23 February 2015

The Inside Line: Doncaster Rovers v Bristol City (24/02/2015)

Surely the worst moments of our season? Was it the first time we've been truly poor, truly outplayed by anyone? 

Defeats previously have been narrow (we still haven't lost by more than a single goal), not without reason (see Wade Elliott's early red card at Swindon) or a tad unlucky. Saturday's first half was a horrible flashback to the dark days of last season (and the season before that) with a slightly flapping goalkeeper behind a static, tentative defence who were giving far too much time to their opposition.

Ahead of this week's midweek tie against Doncaster, Stu Radnedge put himself the other side of the metaphorical microphone and takes a view on where the defeat leaves City's promotion hopes.

"A victim of our own success? Maybe – or at least that was my opinion after Saturday’s result against Colchester.

I, like many other fans, was somewhat surprised at the level of our demise in less than 30 minutes against the U’s. As we have experienced all season, we are there to be shot at. We’re the team that everyone wants to beat. No more so than those in the bottom four who are trying to stave off the threat of the drop (much like we were last year).

We can rest in the knowledge with the gap established between us and the Dons of Milton Keynes – but we must win tomorrow to re-open a lead with a buffer of more than one match, rather than be in the dreaded situation where our fate rests in the under-performance of another team to help us out.

Doncaster will be tough. We all know that. Maybe that will assist the preparation for the match as it’s clear we were shell-shocked from 30 minutes on Saturday. Manager Steve Cotterill blamed the pitch. That doesn’t wash with me. It’s not like Sunday league football where you get changed in a shed and walk out onto a pitch that has cows on!!! There’s surely time to draw up a game plan suitable for the playing conditions?

Rovers, chasing the playoffs, won’t be underestimated (if that was to blame for Saturday) and the players will likely want to put right Saturday’s defeat and get the promotion bus back on track. They also won’t want to see the Gaffer in that mood again!

When they visited BS3, their away form was better than home and the same still applies now – but with a finer margin between the wins and losses. City will need to be clinical and make this game in hand count.

A loss wouldn’t be the end of the world. Again, we were lucky that when it happened on Saturday, Swindon also lost. The winning mentality that we’ve all grown accustomed to this year makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow on the rare occasion we do leave without any points.

For me, it was the manner we lost in. 1-0 can be a fluke – 2-0 and you make sure it doesn’t happen again… but it did. And that’s hard to rectify with 45 minutes left to play.

With four more weeks of matches each Tuesday and Saturday, the pressure is really on now to gather some momentum, maintain the status quo at the top and be sure to re-establish the distance between us and the chasing pack."

The Exiled Robin

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