Andy Mangan has explained how a half-time tactical tweak resulted in a much-improved second half performance from Bristol Rovers against Fleetwood. It was stand-in media duties for the coach after Joey Barton was sent off by Robert Madden in the latter stages of their LeagueOone encounter.
The Gas went into the break a goal down against a Fleetwood side with the fifth best defensive record in the league, however a change in shape and the addition of James Connolly instantly put the home side into the ascendency.
Rovers started in a 4-3-3, with Aaron Collins and Scott Sinclair either side of Josh Coburn who was spearheading the attack, however against a high pressing Fleetwood side, Coburn and his side had few opportunities.
“The first-half we felt Josh was a bit isolated against the back three on their own,” Rovers’ assistant explained. “He had Aaron Collins in behind him but he was struggling to support him.
“Scotty and Antony Evans on either side of him sort of were getting dragged back. Their wing-backs were on top whereas in the second-half because Scotty is in a more advanced position their back five has had to stay back.”
The half-time break came along with the tactical change. Connolly replaced James Gibbons as the home side switched to a 3-5-2, with Scott Sinclair providing an option from deep and Collins moving up to partner Coburn.
“It allowed us to get our midfield on the ball. I thought our three centre-backs, Beefy (James Connolly) controlled the tempo of the game and our outside centre halves stepped in and I thought it worked superbly well.”
The tactical change worked to great effect when Collins was found down the left hand side, the welshman played the ball across the box and his strike partner was there to poke the ball home, grabbing the equaliser.
Collins was also found in the box with an excellent delivery from Sam Finley, and the gas’ number ten rose higher than Josh Earl, placing a header into the bottom corner.
On another day, Rovers’ top goalscorer could’ve had a hattrick, being played in behind by Coburn shortly after the break and having a penalty appeal denied by Madden in the second half and this was a testament to the changes made for the second half.
Despite having the lion’s share of the possession in the first half, Fleetwood’s compact shape made it very difficult for Joey Barton’s side to break them down.
In the second half, Scott Sinclair was vital in taking away one of the away side’s wing backs, allowing Sam Finley and Antony Evans to drift into the spaces on the flanks left and create, summed perfectly with Finley’s cross being met by Collins for the welshman’s goal.
Despite conceding late to an unfortunate Shaun Rooney header, on another day Barton’s side could’ve ran away with it and they will be taking plenty of positives, and even a change back to a three at the back, with the visit of Peterborough United next weekend.