The 2015-16 season in microcosm: Rovers defended with the resilience of a soufflé, attacked with the cutting edge of a wooden spoon and capped things off with the sort of individual error that’d make a pub footballer blush.
After a delayed start due to a downpour which left the pitch part waterlogged, Rovers actually started brightly. They took a deserved lead when Luke McCullough’s header fell to Tommy Rowe, whose left-footed shot deflected past Ben Garratt. All was going to plan until Zoumana Bakayogo burst clear down the left on 43 minutes. His centre was chested down by Cedric Evina into the path of Callum Ainley, who scored with ease; 1-1 at the break in a game Rovers had to win.
Early in the second half Nathan Tyson and Andy Williams each had the ball in the net, but both times the offside flag was raised. Then on 57 minutes more calamitous defending saw Rovers behind. Bakayogo got to the by-line and his low cross eluded several defenders, finding Marcus Haber who fired home. Rovers huffed and puffed but their build-up was predictable and moves broke down easily. They also looked vulnerable on the counter and so it proved two minutes from time when Daniel Udoh found Brad Inman, and his first time shot beat Remi Matthews.
So Rovers find themselves in League Two for the first time in 12 years. Hard decisions need to be made soon if next season is to be better than this particularly wretched one.
by John Coyle