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Saints V Bristol Rovers The Preview
Friday, 15th Apr 2011 10:13
Saints will be hoping for deja vu twice this week, but this time in our favour.
In the early part of the season Saints met both Rochdale and Bristol Rovers in the space of a week, winning 4-0 at Bristol before going down 2-0 at home to Rochdale, due to the postponement of the initial game at Spotland, again they meet both sides in the same week and having seen their promotion hopes dented by an the same margin against Dale, Saints will be hoping to repeat the 4-0 win at the Memorial Stadium.
Of course now every week is crucial, each game as it comes up becomes the most important game of the season and there cant be a Saints fan out there who doesnt think that anything less than all three points will do.
The failings at Rochdale were easy to spot, in fact they are the same failings that have cost us far too many points this season already and to be blunt havent been dealt with, but if we are going to triumph in the next three weeks then Nigel Adkins has to look at his side and make some crucial decisions and now before they cost us more points.
Firstly he has to drop Dan Harding and replace him with Ryan Dickson, the truth is that harding is suspect and the best that can be said against Dickson is that he is unproven, well show me a Harding cross of the standard that Dickson pulled out of the hat aat Orient and I will eat my words, the decision might be taken out of the hands of Adkins anyway as Harding seems to be carrying a knock.
Davis didnt cover himself in glory at Rochdale either once again being beaten by a soft shot he really should have stopped, but for various reasons its a bit late to change him now.
So in defence I would go
Richardson, Jaidi, Fonte, Dickson
In midfield is where we have to make the crucial decisions, and i personally would not risk Adam Lallana from the start, groin strains are tricky and can go at any moment, this is perhaps the easiest game on paper for us in the run in I fel that it would be better to conserve him for later, therefore i would switch Guly to the left, play Hammond & Stephens in the centre and put Butterfield in on the right.
Of course this lowers our options of getting to the bye line but Butterfield can pass a ball and can do damage from a deeper position.
This is firstly a strong defensive line up, we cant afford to keep gifting the opposition head starts, lets keep tight at the back and then dominate, by doing this we can tighten the screw, we certainly have enough attacking options in this line up, for a start there are two players who will have scored 20 goals or thereabouts by the end of the season up front, in midfield Guly who should hit double figures this season and Stephens who is on 9 himself, so the firepower is still there.
But the main job is to win and win well to boost the confidence thats why its important to stay tight, not allow Rovers to get any grip on the game, draw their sting and then put them to the sword, for their part Rovers need to win too, but the worry is they will settle for a point, this is why I would keep Lallana on the bench and then if things are tight in the final third of the game bring him on to run at tiring legs, Lallana himself wont have been able to train fully of late so it would be folly to use him from the start.
Saints of course can and should win this game and they have too, but with a bigg crowd behind them and the atmosphere cranked up a few notches Rovers can be cracked, they are not a great side on their travels, winning five, drawing five and losing ten of their games so far, scoring 22 and conceding 42, this is the worst away defensive record in the league, Swindon have also conceded 42 but have played one game more.
So all is set for a crucial game, the time for excuses is past , both on and off the pitch, Nigel Adkins should have no excuse for not picking the right team and Saints supporters should have no excuse for not filling the stadium to its capacity in the final three weeks of the season.
Photo: Action Images
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