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Paul Wheelock column: Dropped points so frustrating
4:00pm Thursday 3rd April 2014 in Sport
ROVERS have been in winning positions in 10 of the 16 Championship games they have played in 2014.
And how many did they go on to win? Exactly half – five.
They dropped two points at home to Brighton and Hove Albion, away to Watford, away to Barnsley and at home to Derby County, and three points, most painfully, in the East Lancashire derby with Burnley at Ewood Park – with all the equalising goals coming in the closing stages of matches.
That’s 11 points in total – and what a difference even five or six of those points would have made.
Yes, Rovers have had rotten luck with injuries and penalty decisions going against them since the turn of the New Year.
But looking at those statistics it would seem a soft underbelly in the latter stages of games provides the best explanation as to why the play-off places are fast disappearing into distance with seven matches of the campaign to play.
Have Rovers ever been good enough to finish in the top six?
Probably not but it’s not like their rivals for sixth place – Bournemouth, of late, aside – have been pulling up any trees in the past three months.
After Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Brighton, some Rovers supporters took to social media to describe the season as one of underachievement.
Harsh? I think so given it was only 12 months ago that their side was staring a second relegation in the face.
But there is no question if Rovers fail to make the play-offs – and let’s face it, only the most optimistic of fans now feel it remains a possibility – it will have to go down as an opportunity missed.
For the simple fact that no-one seems to want the final top six spot.
Yes, 13 goals scored in the last five games is proof positive that Rovers are now willing and able to fight fire with fire with opponents home and away.
But they have conceded 11 goals over the same period of time – or more, damningly, 18 in their last eight matches – and they simply must marry the defensive solidity they were showing earlier in the campaign with the attacking intent they have begun to display.
If they can, and they can continue to show the same sort of spirit and resilience that they have displayed for the majority of this season, then it bodes well, particularly for next season.
That’s all well and good.
But ultimately we shouldn’t be talking next season, not just yet.
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