If you only witnessed the opening fifteen minutes of this game you could’ve been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about this Rovers team. Disjointed, lacking shape, struggling to keep the ball, and to cap it all a goal down – Niall Mason’s underhit back-pass picking out the division’s top scorer John Akinde, who gleefully notched another on his tally.
But then it clicked; Matty Blair’s low cross controlled and finished neatly by James Coppinger at the near post to equalise – and for the rest of the half Rovers strolled around The Hive like a dad in an under-10s kickabout.
‘He needed that goal,’ said AB next to me, of Coppinger’s equaliser, ‘he’s been off form lately. It’ll do him good’. He wasn’t wrong – Coppinger duly ran through the repertoire; twists and turns, inch perfect passes, deft lay-offs and a measured twenty-yard finish for Rovers third goal.
The second had seen somewhat less finesse. Barnet giving up with the notion of defending to allow three Rovers players to have their own goalmouth scramble before John Marquis poked the ball over the line.
Two goals to the good at the break, the second-half was little more than an exercise in unspectacularly seeing things out. There was only one real lapse; a free-kick rolling beneath two Rovers defenders to the feet of Ricardo Alexandre Almeida Santos, but debutant Ian Lawlor was out quickly to smother the chance with an excellent save.
Game won. Just another day at a pretty effective office.
by Glen Wilson