Matt Taylor has insisted that feelings of frustration are being felt too often post-match after Bristol Rovers lost 2-1 at home to Burton Albion on Saturday, their second home defeat in the space of five days.
Additionally, after struggling to manage the physicality of relegation-battling Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night, the Gas boss knew that his side were going to face a similar sort of game against Burton Albion, who are also fighting for their lives at the bottom end of the League One table. However, despite being prepared for similar challenges, the Rovers players once again struggled in a more gritty sort of game.
Familiar issues arose once again despite there being five changes to the starting line up that begun the 2-0 loss to Fleetwood which saw Taylor quite possibly the most frustrated he’s visibly been after a game since taking over at the club.
Asked after the defeat how he was feeling, the 42-year-old declared: “Same as I’ve felt too often this season. The pain of that type of game. We can’t hide away from the fact that every time we come up against this type of challenge we fall short and that is a reflection of myself and the group at the moment and it’s a painful one but we certainly can’t stop it.
“This is no disrespect to the teams that have beaten us this season, there’s a certain approach and type of game, a less clean game you might say, where a certain type of physicality is needed and we’re short in that department. We have a chance, miss the target, and the ball goes out of play for a goal kick. More than 10 seconds later we’re likely defending and we’re defending our box and that happens every single time whether it’s a long throw, a set piece, an unchallenged ball in the middle of the pitch.
“Regardless of who I’ve changed personnel wise, the outcome is still the same and I’ll be now jumping to different formations and solutions to search for that but I guarantee it won’t change. Unfortunately, the nature and DNA of the squad is not to go towards the ball, we’re not capable of doing that. So we’re going to have to find a way of protecting them but I can’t protect against a goal kick or moments that happen in a type of game like that. That then puts pressure on our attacking play and we also can’t handle that.”
It was by no means the ideal start to the match from Rovers as both sides were figuring each other out before a slight change in personnel saw Jevani Brown replace the injured George Friend who could well be side lined for some time with an ankle issue. That saw Josh Grant drop in at centre-back from central midfield and Brandon Aguilera sit deeper in the middle. Although many players in blue-and-white quarters struggled, Brown was one of the hosts’ best performers.
Even though it hadn’t been a classic performance from the Gas, going in at half-time goalless would have allowed them to have messages refreshed and integrated back into them but conceding in the 43rd minute to Burton academy graduate Ciaran Gilligan gave the hosts a mountain to climb.
That grew even further when, from a goal kick, Mark Helm was able to get a shot off in a one-on-one position to double the lead early in the second half.
A cracking finish from the edge of the area from Antony Evans three minutes later halved the deficit but the Pirates couldn’t find an equaliser as, once again, they struggled against a physical side fighting for their lives.
“I’ve got to be really careful,” the Rovers manager added. “We’ve been angry and showed our frustrations in relation to that. I can’t change that. That is a clear weakness and it seems to have been there for longer than possibly this season in relation to everyone saying that Bristol Rovers do well against the big teams on a clean pitch and in a clean game of football and then get beaten by the bottom half teams in a certain type of game.
“That is going to be down to recruitment at the end of the season but this group of players can get better at it and one thing that we’re working as hard as we possibly can with them is to value and recognise it and execute but unfortunately the game always tells us the truth and when you go a goal down in that type of game on that type of pitch, it’s so difficult to get back into it.
“The second goal comes from a goal kick, another long ball. It drives you absolutely mad but we need these players on Tuesday.
“I’ve tried my hardest to be as consistent as I can to give the players a chance and now every single game where we get beat like this I have to then change it because I have to be seen to change it.
“Are we capable of more? Definitely. But is the game constantly telling us where we’re weak? Every single time.”
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