With the Swindon game being a week where we made a point on Norwich, and with Leeds drawing again on Saturday we could well find ourselves making ground on both the top two in the space of two games with a win tonight.
Sure, had we beaten Swindon it would have looked much better, and by all accounts our performance was poor again, so we shouldn't get too excited, but on the basis that Colchester only drew at Stockport on Saturday we could well make ground on all those that are in 'real' contention for a top two place.
I know that Swindon could get themselves in the mix, but even if they win their game in hand they would still be behind us.
Thus, from my calculations if we win all our remaining games we will end up two points behind Leeds and level with Norwich before their game at Carrow Road is taken into account (assuming they also win all their remaining games). Norwich's recent run is just amazing, They took ten points in their first nine games, and since then they have managed 18 wins, 2 draws and only 2 defeats in 22 games. One of those defeats was at Elland Road where a Leeds fan friend of mine said he felt embarrassed that Norwich didn't win by three goals.
For us to be a mere nine points (six with a win tonight) behind them is actually very impressive. Leeds, on the other hand have, like us, picked up the bulk of their points last year. In fact they have only won of their last six games. We've won two and drawn three of our last six, Leeds have won one and drawn three - and lost two. I know it sounds like I'm clutching at straws (and I am) but for us to have had what is being described as a terrible run and to have gained three points on the team I suspect we are most likely to catch of the top two is not all that bad.
Which brings me on to tonight's game. I haven't been to either of the two away games that we came from behind to draw, so I shouldn't really comment, but from reports we have been poor, but we have come from behind to earn a point, thus we have showed character. We don't seem to have that elusive quality that we had at the start of the season to 'just win' irrespective. Norwich have it, and Leeds have showed it this season on and off. Leeds have scored so many late goals to snatch wins, Norwich came from behind to win at Walsall in the last fifteen minutes, and did the same again on Saturday at Brighton. We have to assume that these two are not going to keep doing that, and we have to start doing it ourselves.
Bristol Rovers had a great start to the season, winning six of their opening eight games. They have won six of the next twenty-one. However five of those six wins have come at home, and they have won four of their last six home games. I know one shouldn't read results off the table, but the fact that we have won three and drawn three of our last six away games suggests that neither side will start playing for a draw, hoping for a break away goal to win it. The home game with Rovers was a really enjoyable event. Obviously it helps if you win, but both sides showed good attaching football and Rovers scored two despite losing.
After enjoying the football this season more than I have for a long time I now feel anxious before every game. I keep trying not to, and after all this is supposed to be enjoyment, not a chore, but even with sixteen games (more than a third of the season) to go I am starting to tend towards 'win at all costs'. I think that feeling is being heightened by the fact that the prize this season is less than the celebration of a promotion it's the avoidance of devastation that will almost certainly follow if we are forced to spend another season in the third division.
In fact, the future doesn't look all the bright however you look at it, but on the basis that it has now been two and a half months and eleven games since we won a game by two goals it is no wonder that I (and I'm sure many others) are getting a little desperate.
I have been rather negative in my predictions recently, but I have a good feeling about tonight. I'm going to go for a 3-1 win. The first time we've scored three goals since we last played Rovers, and the first time we've won by two goals since the 1st December. I truly believe that we are just a couple of decent wins away from looking like the world beaters that we did in August. Let's get one of those tonight.
Up the Addicks!