Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBleak in the West Country - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Bleak in the West Country - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Bleak in the West Country

If things were looking bleak in the West Country a couple of weeks ago, then it’s safe to say they’re looking pretty dyer now.

A quick glance at the League One table will tell you that four out of the five South West outfits currently lie a little too close for comfort to the drop zone.

And it doesn’t look as if things will get much better any time soon.

This time a fortnight ago, it was Bristol Rovers who appeared to be in the biggest trouble. With only one win since the middle of October and a string of five straight defeats, it was no surprise you could find them languishing at the bottom of the table.

Rovers sacked their manager of five years, Paul Trollope, on December 15th 2010; the day after being knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by local rivals Exeter City. Former Oldham and Doncaster boss, Dave Penney, was soon brought in to try and help turn the club’s fortunes around and hoist them up the table.

Although he failed to create a good first impression on the pitch, behind the scenes he brought six players in on loan to give the fans some belief that changes were being made.

Among the new faces were defenders Cian Bolger, Gavin Williams and David McCracken from Leicester, Bristol City and Brentford respectively.

However, despite a transformed back line, the Pirates still managed to concede an embarrassing 19 goals in five matches, including a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of fellow relegation strugglers, Walsall.

Last week delivered some hope to the suffering army of Bristol Rovers fans, as they recorded a victory over Oldham Athletic and their first clean sheet in seven games.

It finally appeared as if Penney’s transfer activity was paying off, as Saturday’s game against the Latics handed a debut to on-loan goalkeeper Conrad Logan from Leicester City, who put in a decent performance between the posts.

The win lifted the Gas off the foot of the table, only three points away from safety.

However, any hopes of a revival were dashed after two more defeats against Brentford and Colchester within the following week.

But if you thought things were bad at the Memorial stadium, check out the other West Country team currently plunging into despair. Yes, that’s right, it’s Plymouth Argyle.

Although they weren’t exactly sitting comfortably at 19th in the League One table, things two weeks ago were a whole lot better than they are now. The Pilgrims officially issued a ‘Notice of Intention’ to appoint an administrator on Monday 21st February to help dig them out of their financial difficulties. Upon doing so, the club was deducted ten points, plummeting them down to rock bottom of League One, six points behind 23rd placed Dagenham and Redbridge.

Add to that a drumming by league leaders Brighton on Tuesday night and, suddenly, it appears the Argyle are in the middle of a nightmare. The loss to Brighton was the sixth defeat on the bounce for Plymouth, who hasn’t kept a clean sheet since New Year’s Day.

There has been no fresh blood at the club either after a transfer embargo stopped them from any activity during the January window. The only moves they witnessed were the unwelcome departures of star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, winger Craig Noone and defender Reda Johnson, leaving Reid’s team lacking across the field.

Plymouth managed to knock three points off their deficit with a win against Colchester United. The Pilgrims now face a trip to Hillsborough and rivals Swindon Town; both must-win games for the Devon club.

Things aren’t all rosy at the County Ground though, with Swindon hovering just above the dreaded drop-zone. This West-Country club haven’t recorded a victory in eleven matches, losing their last four consecutive games.

Swindon were left downbeat after the departure of their main man up front, Charlie Austin, to Championship club Burnley. In just over a year and a half, Austin scored 32 goals in 57 games, proving to be an important component in Swindon’s promotion push last season. However, during the January transfer window, the striker saw interest from a number of higher-level teams for his goal-scoring prowess and, after Swindon showed reluctance to sell, he put in a transfer request and headed off to pastures new.

Swindon did bring in striker Elliot Benyon from League Two outfit Torquay United, who scored on his debut for the Reds, shortly followed by Tottenham striker Jonathan Obika in an attempt to fill the void left by Charlie Austin.

March sees three 6-pointer matches for the Reds as they face three relegation haunted clubs in the form of Plymouth, Walsall and Dagenham and Redbridge. They also face league-leaders Brighton in what could be a hugely pivotal month for all the struggling clubs.

Yeovil Town complete the West Country relegation quartet, sitting just above Swindon in the League Table. The Glovers had a mixed month during February, with two wins and three defeats, pushing them above their local rivals and five points clear of the drop.

Only one player left Huish Park during the January transfer window; Jean-Paul Kalala to local rivals, Bristol Rovers. With Terry Skiverton bringing in three new faces and extending the loan of striker Oli Johnson, the club can call the January window a relative success.

With four cities hosting four clubs all fighting it out to avoid the drop, the added spice of heated local rivalries promise an exciting climax to the League One season. With only two months left of the footballing season, it’s looking increasingly likely that some of the West Country clubs will be heading down to League Two. The only question now is which ones?

Maria Hudd

Twitter account:!/mariahudd

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