Game 39: Bristol Rovers V Wimbledon 8th March 2016

Or: Picking up from where we left off.

For a complete change I decided to join up with our returning Wimbledon friends and complete our intended route to a game that was curtailed by the earlier match postponement. Ian and Hazel were the central magnets for this group. Graham and Sean were arriving by train from London. Red Marcus joined us after being badgered to the meet by the present Lord Powell. The final member was the Japanese drummer.

Pre-Match Pubs

Small Bar

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Sean the Map meets the Lord

The pub was in the grip of a Wylam Brewery Take Over. Their Beers are well established on the Real Ale Circuit and the choice of cask beers available were enough to offer a logical route through them. For the record I went for 2/3rds of Galaxia, Puffing Billy and Jakehead. A fourth beer was the star. The Thornbridge Melba was a classic of the new style fruity variations on a Pale Bitter. The group was very much a meeting of ticking minds. The classic photo opportunity soon arrived and was witnessed in the photo below. The team map from Wimbledon met the Powell Tours spread sheet and all was right with the world.

Taxi for 8 to:-

Drapers Arms

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There is an art to getting a group of 8 around a table  and we would have won awards for the moving of tables and chairs to achieve this feat. The pub had tested its pricing policy by offering a 7.3% Moor Old Freddie Walker for the pub standard price of £3.50. It was a beer to savour and was worthy of its lauded reputation. I did, however, sample something somewhat lighter from XT as a second option.

I couldn’t help but blurt out my enjoyment of the fact that all games should have home and away fans mixing as mates. Thoughts also drifted to the possibilities of such in the less convivial Victoria on the opposite side of Gloucester Road. As usual people came and went. Ian and Hazel went off to meet Mum and other friends in the Welly. Gary and Ollie were also directed there as they sought out a newly recovered enthusiasm for watching the Gas on a wet Tuesday evening. The pub had made its usual good impression on our friends. I just about avoided spoiling the atmosphere when venturing forth with my views on the Milton Keynes affair. Note to self, Wimbledon fans really do have a core view that isn’t worth the effort of challenging. It is a shame because they might, in doing so, understand why the football family still doesn’t totally get their view of the whole MK move thing.

The Match

Bristol Rovers 3 Wimbledon 1; Attendance 7,778 (303 Wombles)

The 6 minute before kick of photo.

Three wins in a row. Six points of automatic and six points clear of 8th place. A win against a serious promotion rival was crucial. My feeling now is that we might well meet again in the play-offs. Wimbledon started well and had plenty of possession but Rovers got the essential first goal. I thought by half time that the 2-0 lead could easily have been three or four as once again one-on-ones were missed. The second half was very different. The corners given away were sources of real panic and several goal line clearances. Wimbledon did well on the break and Mildenhall had to make a few solid saves. When they pulled one back our group of terrace experts were looking to the bench for someone to come on and stop the flow of attacks from clearances to their now more assertive central defenders. Someone to play central midfield on the bench? Montano? Er no. Broom? Not really. Fallon? No. Harrison? Not central midfield. We were suddenly down to the bare bones midfield wise. Matty Taylor scored a third and McCrystal came on, allowing Lockyer to step up in to midfield and shore it up. 3-1 just about reflected my overall comfort with the win. On another day it could have been very different. The line between success and failure is now down to taking ever rarer opportunities.

Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke

Post-Match Pubs

Wellington

Rose was picking me up at 10.30 so I had time to gather for a bit of post-match reflection. Like all such postmortems one has to temper thoughts for fear of winding up the losing supporters. I did have to put my view of Akinfenwa’s sending off. I was amused by his chuntering to himself all the way to the changing room. I was also puzzled by the injured player’s hobble across the whole width of the pitch when the changing rooms were yards away from where he fell. Apparently the view was that the new signing McBurnie, changed the game. My view was that he did o.k. but Gaffney would have done a better job  if available. Rose arrived for a well-deserved half and then we left with resolutions to meet again soon, hopefully in the cricket season rather than at Wembley, The Mem or Kingston.

I have to comment on the Wellington itself. It was good to see Dark Side on Hand pull. It was sampled and was good. You will also recall above our pleasure at getting eight of us around a table in the micro pub. The Welly is anything but a micro pub. I arrived to enlarge the group to 8 and we made a decision to move to what looked like a vacant table in an empty part of the room. No chance! The tables were being set for breakfast on the morning. We squeezed back into our shared space and the uncaring attitude of the Welly was reinforced in an instant. They would not get a second beer from me, nor will I be racing back post-match.

Pub of the day: Small Bar
Beer of the day: Thornbridge Melba

Next up: Mansfield H Saturday 12th March 2016

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