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Albion Rovers 0-2 Annan Athletic

Albion Rovers 0-2 Annan Athletic

Another excellent performance from Albion Rovers. Another game that was played with a confidence that belied the youth of the squad. Another good showing from new signings and established players alike.

Another undeserved defeat.

Rovers have now played well over 2,340 minutes (about 1 and a half days) of cinch League 2 football this season. For 2,300 of those minutes, they have been the better team on the field. The devil is in the details through and through a combination of concentration lapses, poor counter defending and old-fashioned bad luck, Rovers’ opponents have made hay with the loose 40ish minutes Brian Reid’s young side left unaccounted.

There are mitigating factors of course. The manager, his coaching staff, and our own media department have all spoken at length about the injury issues afflicting the side. The canny addition of Josh Bevan up front has already begun to pay dividends. Euan Mutale and loanee signing Josh McCulloch have also now made their debuts. Once again injury played a role, as Matale was called in early to replace Max Wright, who left the game with a suspected calf strain. Again, the reliance on less experienced players is something no manager would choose. However, the youth movement is mostly working.

Yesterday’s match against a strong Annan Athletic team was a case study in the Wee Rovers dilemma. The Callum Wilson led team were never outmatched, comfortable in possession, pressing when they could, defending assuredly and holding their own. All this against a side, which on paper, should have controlled the match from start to finish. A 9th placed team has no business giving a 3rd placed team a battle like this. Again, the tiny cracks in Rovers’ structure were to be their undoing. Josh Galloway had barely been on the field 3 minutes before his looping header snuck just over the outstretched fingertips of Jack Leighfield in the Rovers goal. 80 minutes played and suddenly a secure point was slipping away. It took just 7 more minutes for the Galabankies to secure the 3 points. Tam Muir slotting the ball home as Rovers failed to reset and resume the consistent defending of the first 79 minutes.

The crowd did not boo, they are as confused and frustrated as the manager and his side. A top 3 team mired in 9th and potentially headed for a playoff battle to secure their professional status.

The side travels to Forthbank Performance Sports Centre next Saturday, to face a Stirling Albion side coming off a goalless draw against Forfar yesterday. Nobody is in any doubt about what is needed; 90 minutes of the quality football Rovers can produce and a vital 3 points.

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