Hands off our hero Matt, says Darrell
DARRELL Clarke responded to questions about Matt Taylor’s future with a simple statement: ‘I am not even thinking about selling him.’
The Rovers manager had just seen last season’s leading marksman in the Football League take his tally for this campaign to 18 with a second-half double.
Asked if he anticipated interest in Taylor from other clubs during the January transfer window, Clarke smiled and said: “If someone comes in with £10 million we might look at it.”
He quickly added: “We have no need to sell and it is not something I am even considering.
“Matty has had a fantastic year. People talk about his finishing, but his work rate and desire are other important qualities.
“But I don’t want to talk about individuals after this game because it was an outstanding team performance. From the start the players competed fantastically well against a physical Wimbledon side.
“It has been a brilliant year for us. Our home form in that time has been joint-best in the country. But no one is getting carried away.”
After a drab first half in which neither side created much, Taylor’s opportunism proved the difference.
He headed Rovers in front from Lee Brown’s deep cross on 61 minutes, having been denied by a fine save from Wimbledon goalkeeper James Shea only seconds earlier.
The striker was on target again nine minutes later, making space to beat Shea with a low left-footed shot from 12 yards after Chris Lines had set up the chance.
Taylor narrowly missed out on a hattrick later on, heading wide from a Lines cross in the closing moments of the match. And Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was quick to pay his own tribute to the Gas striker: “Taylor has the lot and if he does end up in a higher league he will do well,” he said.
“But he wasn’t the only reason we lost. In Southend and Bristol Rovers we have come up against two good teams who have shown us how far we are away from the better sides in this division.
“Bristol’s home form over the past 18 months has been exceptional and I can see why. They are brave and come at you fast.
“We huffed and puffed, but the better team showed us that we are short. We had a couple of half-chances in the first half, but even then I thought if we were going to win the game we would have to nick it.”
STAR MAN MATT TAYLOR Bristol Rovers