Bristol Rovers claimed their latest positive result on Saturday by defeating promotion-chasing Peterborough United in a dominant display. It was a performance that Sam Finley took great pride in, having put in a man-of-the-match display with an assist for Scott Sinclair’s match-winning goal.
Despite what was one of the finest displays of the season, the Gas only moved up two places from 17th to 15th in what was their 19th game of the season. It helped Rovers get back to winning ways in the league after a month without a victory, but the position as the halfway stage of the league season is important.
Rovers have lost just once in ten league matches and at least in their bid for survival have made for a ten-point gap over 21st-placed MK Dons. As for the playoffs, they’re only six points off of Barnsley and it’s a case of looking up rather than down.
There is an old cliche of the table doesn’t lie which is mainly used for when a team is underperforming. Rovers in recent weeks have claimed draws with Sheffield Wednesday and league leaders Plymouth Argyle. It was an example that Rovers could mix it with the big teams and after their latest victory, the Rovers skipper believes the position of the club right now is a false one.
“The old cliche is the table doesn’t lie. I think it massively does in our case,” said the stand-in captain. “As the fans have seen the past few weeks, we are a side ready to go. The gaffer always talks about it, we’re sitting on the rails of being on a horse and finishing strong.
“You don’t want to be at the top end of the table and people chasing you with you looking over your shoulder. We like being the middle of the pack and hopefully, we’ll get a strong finish like we did last season. When January comes maybe get a few more extra players in, push on and try and get a late playoff push.
“People who know and are inside the club and the fans know we don’t deserve to be down there. It’s why they are still coming out and supporting us as they do. It doesn’t reflect how good we’ve been lately.”
Finley is donning the captain’s armband in the absence of Paul Coutts, who is out with an ankle injury. Coutts was in the dug-out playing a supporting role against Peterborough United.
In Coutts’ absence, Finley has been able to build a strong partnership with Jordan Rossiter of whom he played with at Fleetwood Town. The pair have commanded the centre of the park and Finley has benefitted the most with assists in two consecutive games.
A common theme in home fixtures at the Mem this season has been a slow start to the match. Against Plymouth they made it an uphill battle trailing by two whilst against Fleetwood, they were trailing.
Finley however has sent a warning to the third tier that there will come a game where Rovers will hit full stride. Their largest victory this season was a 4-0 win against relegation threatened Burton Albion. He thinks that feat could be repeated.
He said: “Someone is due a hiding from us. Once we get the first goal. We won’t naturally sit back, confidence will get higher and we will go on and get the second, third and fourth. The strike power we have up front is ridiculous.
“It’s what we did last season. We started the game off brilliantly and blew teams away. We were two or three goals up and then managed the game. We needed to get back starting the game fast and a high tempo.
“I thought we done that and then it makes the game a lot easier as you take the lead. As I said it will come game management to go on and score the second and third goals.”