PAUL Cook has spent his first weeks in charge drumming in his Chesterfield managerial mantra.
Life under Cook will be about endeavour, graft and grit. The message is simple and it seems to be getting across - there was no lack of fight at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
However, to find the back of the net, whatever the level, requires more guile than guts. Composed and clinical heads were the order of the day in the West Country - what the Spireites delivered was more akin to headless chickens.
If corners meant points, Chesterfield would have won it. If chances meant goals, Chesterfield would have walked it. However they don’t and Chesterfield didn’t. And as a result Cook spent his post-match interview keeping up the uncompromising appearance.
“Defeats hurt and I am not the sort to talk about taking the positives when we lose,” he said.
You could see his point. Despite dominating against a side in freefall having lost four games on the spin, and just a point above the drop zone, Chesterfield wasted a hatful of chances to make the game a comfortable victory.
To add insult to injury they even managed to concede a late strike to lose a game where even a point would have probably had Cook chuntering.
The Spireites had a hand in the opener when Sam Togwell put Tom Eaves’ cross into his own net before Mark Randall - one of the wasteful parties, of which more later - saw his over-hit free-kick somehow carried over the goalline by Neil Etheridge after 20 minutes.
Before the half was out Scott Boden fired straight at Etheridge when the one-on-one he found himself in was crying out for a chip.
Drew Talbot, Danny Whitaker and Boden were all guilty in a frenetic penalty-box scramble. A Randall effort was straight at the keeper from the top of the box.
A change of ends didn’t bring about an alteration in the Chesterfield radar. Togwell was free from blame when his deflected effort hit the post but Terrell Forbes was anything but when foiled by the post.
Former Arsenal midfielder Randall reverted to his French upbringing under Arsene Wenger with a chipped effort from close range when a hit-and-hope would have done.
And they were made to pay when Eaves - a burly vision of uncompromising forward play - teed up Joe Anyinsah to make it 2-1.
Cook wasn’t interested in the positives but it would have been difficult for the 359 travelling fans to have not been cheered on their long trek home by the display of Brennan Dickenson.
Delivered for his first taste of league football in the 61st minute, four minutes later he had a debut goal - an 18-yard top-corner strike making something of a mockery of the hour that had preceded his arrival.
The 19-year-old Brighton loanee is due to be around for a month but on this evidence the Spireites will be begging Gus Poyet to let him stay.
It was 2-2, the winner surely beckoned for a dominant Chestefield side - not so.
Eaves bagged a third for Rovers with a deflected effort and the visitors wasted yet more chances late on to share the spoils.
“We think we are a big club in this division, but big clubs don’t keep losing and we have to work even harder to improve,” added Cook.
“Our supporters were fantastic and it’s time we started to give them the results they want.
“We have good players, but we have to do better as a team.
“Any neutral would say we deserved something from the game.”
You can say that again, Paul.
Bristol Rovers (5-3-2): Etheridge, Paterson, Kenneth, Parks, Lund, Brown, Clarkson, Broghammer, Anyinsah, Riordan, Eaves. Subs: Walker, Smith, Woodards, Brown, Clarke, Clucas, Richard.
(4-2-3-1): O’Donnell, Talbot, Hird, Forbes, Smith, Togwell, Clay, Darwikwa, Randall, Boden. Subs: Mason, Ridehalgh, Atkinson, Westcarr, Lester, Evans, Dickenson.