All posts by Lizzie Robinson

Cheltenham Town – Away Day Review

A ground that is referred to as ‘The World of Smiles’ was the venue for Rovers’ most recent away fixture. Taking the result into account, this is the perfect name for such a ground after Rovers fans left in very high spirits – astonished by the first away victory since January – but there are some aspects that may cause fans to question how apt the title truly is…

The ground is located just outside the centre of Cheltenham, meaning that it is surrounded by a plethora of places to get a pre-match meal or drink. This convenient location meant they had loads of decent places to park, once again at refreshingly cheap prices.

Even though Cheltenham are a team that have spent the last few years in non-league, their ground is surprisingly modern in comparison to some grounds in our division. There was actual working toilets and the seats were undercover which was very useful when the heavens opened during the game. However, I was honestly underwhelmed at the lack of character in the ground. In fact, the most unique and interesting aspect of the stadium is its whimsical name.

Despite there being loads of places to eat around the ground, when I read online they sold reasonably priced Pukka Pies I decided that eating in the stadium was a wise choice. I was very, very wrong. The only kind of pie they sold by the time I got there was chicken and mushroom and I don’t know anyone who actually likes that flavour and would order it by choice. Instead, I ordered chips. As I watched the woman prepare these for me, I realised that she had them in the fryer for maybe a minute at most. After eating them, it became very apparent that these were just raw.

Overall, ‘The World of Smiles’ didn’t leave me with that much to smile about. It wasn’t really anything special, but winning there certainly moved it up the rankings considerably. I think at the end of the day results will always swing my opinions of a place, and I’d love to visit again regardless of the quality if we can perform as well as we did.

Lizzie Robinson

Cheltenham Town vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

Winning two games on the trot is totally mental for Doncaster Rovers as of late. Cheltenham hadn’t lost at home in 17 games, and Rovers hadn’t won away since January 2nd – and we still managed to beat them!

  • The starting line up was hardly surprising following Tuesday’s victory against Cambridge, with Evina stepping in for the injured Tyler Garrett. The 4-4-2 formation has continued to work well for the Rovers side since it was implemented by Darren Ferguson.
  • Rovers started very well, with most of the play being in Cheltenham’s half. Fergie’s men dominated and had chance after chance, but failed to capitalise nearly every time the ball reached the box. Matty Blair beat every man on the field numerous times, but with no real end product and both Williams and Marquis missed numerous sitters. It seemed like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon where we’d be unable to get the goal we very much deserved despite our incredible performance.
  • Cheltenham had a few good spells too, but nothing ever came from them due to the absolutely incredible quality defensively. All members of the back four avoided making errors and dealt with any attacking manoeuvres efficiently. If the ball ever did get past our back line, the safe hands of Marko Marosi were there to ensure we kept a clean sheet. Although the young keeper didn’t have much work to do, he still managed to pull off some exceptional saves despite some unnecessary criticism from the fans – don’t worry, I’ll get to that behaviour shortly.
  • In the second half, Rovers came out fighting. A beautiful pass from James Coppinger, who also silenced his many critics at the game, arrived at the feet of top goalscorer John Marquis who rolled the ball in with ease. It was never in doubt.
  • It was evident that the Cheltenham players were becoming increasingly frustrated with the Rovers side running rings around them (literally in some cases) because they began to lash out as the game progressed. There was at least one clear cut penalty in the second half where after beating the Cheltenham defender three times, Coppinger was kicked to the ground in the middle of the box.
  • The two substitutes, Mandeville and Middleton, didn’t drastically affect the team’s performance or momentum. Mandeville always provides a breath of fresh air when he’s on the pitch and came close to scoring on one occasion. Taking Blair off was a bit bizarre though, he was brilliant as usual.
  • Overall, it was a brilliant performance from Rovers. It seems that after a shaky start to the season at Accrington, we’re really starting to get into the swing of things.

Winners

John Marquis – The obvious choice, he works hard for a solid 90 minutes and once again it paid off with an excellent goal. He is definitely going to get a lot more this season and may find himself being a contender for top goalscorer this season.

The Rovers back four – I never thought I’d label a defence that is so lacking in experienced personnel such as Baudry and Alcock as ‘winners’, but they performed really well. Both Lund and Evina were excellent at full back compared to last season and Wright and Butler also defended with ease.

Marko Marosi – I am so unbelievably happy that Marosi has finally had his chance to shine in the first team. Keeping two consecutive clean sheets is impressive for such an inexperienced player and I simply can’t see him losing his position on the team sheet any time soon.

Losers

Ross Etheridge -There is absolutely no chance Ross is getting back into this side in the near future.  After Marosi has kept two clean sheets it would be simply ridiculous to replace him with the ex-Accrington keeper.

A minority of Rovers fans – It baffles me how after a 1-0 victory some of our fans can still find things to complain about. People seemed to have decided that Marosi was going to have a bad game before he even entered the field. Both Marquis and Coppinger also got an unholy amount of unjustified stick too, totally baffling.

The referee – He seemed to be totally oblivious to the fact we were relentlessly kicked around the pitch by irritated Cheltenham players at times.

Lizzie Robinson

Doncaster Rovers vs Crawley Town – Preview

The first home game of the 2016/17 season really doesn’t fill me with optimism…

With the first two games Rovers have played both ending with conceding crushing goals in extra time, and the injury list being unbelievably long, Darren Ferguson and his team really need to pull their fingers out and try to secure a win on Saturday. Hopefully, however, we might actually be in with a chance.

The last time Rovers faced Crawley Town was during the 2014/15 season on the 10th February. Rovers ended up winning 5-0, with one of the goal scorers being Curtis Main. It is therefore no surprise that the reds got relegated during that season. Last season, Crawley finished 20th in League 2, escaping the relegation zone by 13 points. This season they have started relatively well though, defeating injury-ridden Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 with skipper Jimmy Smith snatching the lead. It is important to note that despite making several new signings over the summer, the Red Devils are still 4th favourites to be relegated to the conference this season.

In terms of team news, Rovers’ squad is still looking relatively thin. Keegan, Baudry and McSheffery aren’t quite fully fit, but are getting very close to making the squad. When it comes to goalkeepers, Fergie has quite a challenge on his hands as neither Marosi or Etheridge have had stellar performances in the two opening games – I genuinely don’t know who he will pick.

The second half of Tuesday’s performance (bar the last minute goal) was a breath of fresh air and Rovers genuinely took control of the game. The Rovers side looked much more impressive than it did at Accrington with newly fit Joe Wright taking control of our defence in an impeccable fashion. The addition of Mandeville in the team also added an element of pace that is lacking where our other strikers are concerned and would definitely compliment John Marquis. Perhaps Mandeville will be brought in for Williams who appears to be struggling with confidence issues (again) of late, after his penalty miss at Accrington.

Prediction: Doncaster Rovers 2 – 1 Crawley Town (Rowe, Marquis)

One can only hope that we build on our decent performance against a Championship side, stop conceding such crushing late goals and kick-start the promotion push we all want and expect this season.

Lizzie Robinson

Accrington Stanley – Away Day Review

I don’t think Rovers’ return to League 2 could have taken place at a better venue…

Rovers fans, after navigating their way through a housing estate, were welcomed to Accrington (and League 2) by a pile of seats that had been ripped out of the terraces and left to decay slowly on the grass outside the away entrance. I couldn’t help but think about the championship grounds we used to visit in comparison to now, and how I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I was very, very young Rovers still played at grounds like this. It was at these places where my love for football was forged and going back to grounds that aren’t all-seated, sleek looking stadiums and actually have some character just floods me with a blinding sense of nostalgia.

The parking arrangements were excellent too. We left our car in the official away car park, a field that was adjacent to the ground. It cost £2 for parking, which in comparison to the prices over the last few seasons was a shock to the system. Paying £10 for a car park that’s basically the same is bloody extortionate really and the parking charges at Accrington were truly a breath of fresh air.

There are very few things better than standing on a terrace in the August sun, eating chips and slowly cooking in the heat. Well… maybe an away win for once would easily top it. However, believe it or not, Accrington isn’t really the promised land I have made it out to be thus far.

The staff at the Wham Stadium clearly weren’t prepared for the sheer number of fans who would be travelling to the first game of the 2016/17 season. By half time, drinks of any kind were totally sold out. This is hardly ideal in the intense heats and also quite irritating when you’ve queued for a good twenty minutes to be totally turned down. The kiosks also didn’t sell pies of any kind – outrageous really – and £2.50 for glorified oven chips is basically daylight robbery.

Personally, I don’t even want to talk about the state of the toilets, which comprised of half a dozen portaloos and four cubicles (none of which have working flushes) and after thousands of Rovers fans had made use of the facilities it wasn’t a pretty sight at all.

Overall, results aside, the trip to the Wham Stadium was a wonderful day out. It set the tone for League 2 football and if all the grounds this season are of a similar nature (perhaps with better toilets) I cannot wait to visit them.

Lizzie Robinson

Rossington Main – Away Day Review

Every pre-season at Doncaster Rovers begins the same: a local, non-league club who play on a glorified playing field.

After a long summer period of watching England disappoint in the Euros, reminding them that Rovers aren’t the only team that fails at every hurdle, a collection of fans who should know better gather together, to get back into the swing of things. Some reluctantly bracing themselves for the inevitable disappointment, some excited to finally leave the house again.

As I write this article, I am travelling to beautiful, sunny Florida to enjoy a holiday of happiness and relaxation, in somewhere so aesthetically pleasing it is a feast for your eyes, with clear blue skies, water, palm trees, stunning architecture etc etc. Obviously Rossington provides quite a stark contrast.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is something quite charming about visiting a place like this, but also something that makes you feel happy – relieved almost – that most grounds you visit this season will be better in terms of facilities (although in League 2 I do worry that may not be the case at times).

There are some aspects of Oxford Street that certainly evoke nostalgia among Rovers fans too. From the man walking around proudly declaring the total raised during the raffle (although he was missing a large whiteboard to display it on) and the questionable standards of the toilets, to Paul Green and James Coppinger recreating their corner routines from the last time they graced the field together.

However, there was one large issue. The burger queue. A companion of mine had quite the ordeal when attempting to provide himself and fellow fans with sustenance. Not only did he queue for all of half time to realise that particular queue served solely pies and no burgers whatsoever, but the actual queue he required was equally as long. What the burgers did to his bowel movements is best left to the imagination.

Personally, I don’t think the football pre-season should start any other way. A good crowd, an away win, a huge increase in income for a local club. It’s something that is truly heart warming and gets me super excited about the season ahead of us.

Lizzie Robinson

Doncaster Rovers vs Rochdale – Report

Lady Luck clearly has a bone to pick with Doncaster Rovers as once again she intervened at the very last minute to spoil Rovers’ hopes of staying up, and it was all going so well…

  • The starting line-up was disappointing but hardly surprising. Yet again Aaron Taylor-Sinclair made it into the starting eleven. It’s almost as if his name is the first on the team sheet when Fergie picks the team in a morning. He constantly gave away sloppy balls, got beaten by the Rochdale wingers whilst Cedric Evina looked on from the dugout with his arms folded, knowing that it really should have been him at left back. Why we didn’t sign defensive reinforcements to replace ATS when we had the opportunity is totally beyond me.
  • The first half was similar to every performance I’ve watched recently. Lacklustre and boring, with no real threat from Rovers at all. It didn’t matter how good the chances Andy Williams had in the game – and some of them I could have scored from – he still missed two absolute sitters, there was once again no goal threat from Williams today. McSheffrey also didn’t impress, which was probably due to him being played in a slightly different role as a result of the diamond midfield formation.
  • Not only was the lack of attacking threat in the first half a problem, Rochdale had numerous close chances that if luck were on their side they absolutely would have scored from due to some shambolic defending from the away side. The combination of our lack of chances and their almost constant attacking meant that us going in 1-0 down at half time was inevitable. The goal was soft and the defending was sloppy. It seemed like business as usual.
  • It can be argued that Rovers should have been awarded a penalty in the first half, but this wasn’t the only decision the referee got wrong, he had an absolute nightmare! Don’t even get me started on the sending off, Craig Alcock shouldn’t have been booked for his first offence which the referee didn’t even see. He simply booked both players due to his cluelessness and hoped for the best.
  • I don’t know what Darren Ferguson said during his half time team talk, but it must have been bloody brilliant as Rovers came out with so much passion and a will to win. It was incredibly refreshing to witness, and it was like the players had only just realised the harsh reality of the relegation battle we’ve been in for weeks on end and finally pulled their fingers out.
  • The two goals, although they didn’t come from actual strikers, were well delivered and really began to boost the morale of the Rovers players even further. They seemed confident and it looked like we were going to win for the first time in three whole months.
  • Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last. With our luck out at the moment of course it wouldn’t last. In the 96th minute of a game which should have only lasted 95, a goal keeping error in the last minute resulted in Rochdale equalising.

Winners

Craig Alcock – Despite getting sent off, Craig Alcock was once again one of the best players on the pitch. He is consistently competent, keeping a cool head whilst defending, good in the air and gives 100% all of the time. If you couldn’t already tell I’m a big fan.

Luke McCullough – Yep. That’s right. Now, I hated the Northern Irish player at right back and at centre half. In fact, him being near the goal mouth fills me with fear that we’ll concede. However, in midfield McCullough really impressed me. He reminded me of a younger, but less attractive, Paul Keegan.

When his job is to stop the opposition scoring goals, you forget that he is actually a good footballer because he just isn’t very good at defending. In midfield on the other hand he has the freedom to play some outstanding passes.

Riccardo Calder – The Aston Villa loanee was exceptional. He beat his man nearly every time without fail. He also impressed me at the Blackpool game last week and is starting to become one of our biggest attacking threat.

Losers

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair – The fans today sang ‘if Sinclair can play for Rovers so can I’ and I have to agree. Me: a 5”4, right footed, incredibly unfit 16-year-old girl could probably do a better job than he does at left back at the minute.

The referee – Although I’m not one for blaming match officials for our bad results usually, he truly deserves a large portion of responsibility because of his inability to realise when five minutes are actually over.

Andy Williams – It seems that things aren’t going well for Andy Williams at Doncaster Rovers this season. He was the biggest signing by Paul Dickov at the start of the season and although he went through a decent goalscoring run when Ferguson first joined, for most of the season he’s not had great luck when it comes to hitting the back of the net. He must wonder why he left Swindon at all.

Lizzie Robinson

Twitter – @Liz_Robinson_xx

Away Day Review – Colchester United

It takes a certain brand of idiot to travel for a total of seven hours to watch any football game, especially when your team losing seems inevitable. Luckily, I am one of those idiots and I had quite a depressing day on good Friday to say the least.

In an attempt to stop thinking about actual football for a little while, I am going to discuss Colchester’s Community Stadium and explain my overall thoughts about whether that immense amount of travel time was really worth it, results aside.

This newly built stadium is clearly one of the first components in a future major development of land and it lies in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of the Essex town. The surrounding area, which is currently a massive grassland and some small unofficial carparks, promises to become a large complex with food outlets, shops and many other exciting amenities. Currently though, this area is as dead as my hopes that Rovers will stay up this season. Maybe next year when we play them in League 2 things will have changed.

The Colchester Community Stadium is a really nice little ground, and it was pleasant to sit there and sunbathe for 90 minutes, basking in the lovely Essex weather – even though I did experience some minor sunburn. The in-ground facilities are excellent and the toilets and concourse areas in both the home and away ends were clean and impressed me beyond belief.

Before the match there was some excellent entertainment on offer. The home concourse was open to fans of both teams serving an array of drinks and snacks. Once these had been purchased, a football fan could sit and watch a live local band perform before the game began. It was really nice to sit and take in the lovely little atmosphere that had been created and you can see why Colchester are renowned for being a good family club as fans of all ages, from both teams, seemed to enjoy themselves. It really made up for the lack of things to do due to the ground’s location on the very outskirts of town.

I’d also like to give a shout out to the in-ground DJ, who played some absolute classics on the PA system. Singing along to ‘This Charming Man’, sleeves rolled up on my thermals (which I regret wearing) in an attempt to start tanning my pasty skin and watching Keegs warm up in front of me before the game made me feel great, something I’d forgotten was possible at a Doncaster Rovers match in recent times.

My only real complaint was that the pies were far too hot to touch for a good five minutes, I honestly thought I was going to develop scorch marks on my hands when I was handed it.

Perhaps if the result has gone in Rovers’ favour, the few hundred fans who travelled would have thoroughly enjoyed their trip down South on a bank holiday because there isn’t really much to complain about Colchester. Apart from the fact we got absolutely battered by them of course.

Oakwell – Away Ground Review

A trip to Barnsley is like going back in time. Back to the halcyon days of the mid-1980s. A simpler time when whippets roamed the streets, flat caps adorned misshapen heads and ‘Town Called Malice’ was still number one – Obviously Rovers fans fit right in.

During my time as a Doncaster Rovers fan, I’ve visited Oakwell quite frequently over the years and it is time to make my opinions of the ground clear. Oh boy…

My biggest problem with Oakwell is the pathetic excuse for an away car park. Although there is plenty of staff around before the game when parking up, after the game leaving the car park is a chaotic nightmare with hundreds of cars all converging at the singular exit. It honestly takes longer to get out of that car park than it does to drive from the car park back to Doncaster. About a minute after leaving the car park, the Barnsley striker Sam Winnall pulled out in front of us. That’s right, during the time we’d been queuing, Sam Winnall had time to warm down, shower and get changed after the match. It’s just outrageous.

Oakwell itself is a nice ground, situated in the middle of Barnsley. It is one of those grounds that Rovers fans just love to go to. This explains why the atmosphere is always so electric there, even if we don’t bring big crowds we always produce an immense amount of noise there. There’s no doubting that it’s quite a nice looking ground, it’s just a shame that they can’t fill it like they used to.

On the subject of catering, I was really impressed for a change. The pies were presented to me in a cardboard box, which acted as a makeshift plate. It wasn’t something I’ve ever seen before and it helped limit some of the awkwardness that comes with eating a pie that simply comes with a foil tin around the bottom of it – makes the pastry at the bottom all soggy. Pie in a box is also an excellent Christmas present if anyone is into buying presents for me super early.

With Rovers playing as they are, it is freezing cold trips to Oakwell that define what it is to be a ‘supporter’. When your team has been uniformly awful for weeks on end and each game is more freezing than the last. When you are spending all your free time and money on a football team that never win or even look like they are bothered half the time, it is the camaraderie of away days that somehow manages to make life as a football fan almost bearable.

Barnsley is hardly a holiday but it is a familiar and welcome presence on the football calendar. Will I moan about ticket prices? Yes. Will I bitterly bang on about the shit parking to all who will listen? Yes. Will I be there next season and the season after. Yes and yes.
All Rovers aren’t we?

Highbury – Away Ground Review

‘Just a tram-stop in Blackpool’, a chant sang by the Rovers fans at the game yesterday is probably one of the more accurate ways to describe our away trip to the coast…

As much as I love seaside towns, Fleetwood is one of the quietest places we’ve been to on our travels this season with the best nearby pub being the Wetherspoon’s next to the tower and the central pier in Blackpool.

The ground itself really shows the success story of Fleetwood since escaping non-league football a few years ago. You could liken the vast majority of the ground (excluding the new stand) to places like The Northolme, home of Gainsborough Trinity, and other grounds belonging to sides who aren’t currently in the football league. This obviously means that there is quite a lot of traditional character which you don’t seen very often as a Rovers fan.

We also got to experience the luxury that is terracing. Nothing gets better than standing up for 90 minutes, jumping about behind the goal and I wish there were more grounds with areas for safe standing across the country because it really improves the atmosphere.

Despite the ground’s appearance leaving a lot to be desired, the prices of things were what you would expect from a Championship ground. £3.50 for a pie is daylight robbery and don’t get me started on ticket prices. I could rant about that for hours.

Not only were the pies overpriced, the snack bar was a huge disappointment. No alcohol on the terrace, no burgers and the most obscure pie brand I’ve seen in a while. They’d even sold out of chicken balti ones by the time I arrived at the front of the queue so I had to settle for ‘peppered steak’.

One of the few saving graces the ground did have was the pleasant surprise of the toilets. No strange smells, working flushes, clean seats and floors. It was madness. I’ll admit though it is a bit worrying when you visit a ground and the quality of the ladies’ toilets is the thing you’re most impressed by.

Overall I think that Fleetwood is a decent away trip. This isn’t due to the ground itself, but because of the great day out many fans had in Blackpool before the game and the thrill of having terracing to stand on. If the result had been a bit more positive perhaps I would find the ground a bit more bearable and this whole review would have been more positive, but that’s another story altogether.

Why We Love… Paul Keegan

In bullfighting, the Picador is one of a pair of horseman who weaken the bull by jabbing it with a lance before the main event begins. The Matador of course is the bullfighter and the bull the antagonist. So which is Paul Keegan ? The hardworking but unsung fighter who weakens the opposition? The flamboyant and courageous entertainer beloved by the crowd? Or the noble but diabolical beast driven by fury and bloodlust? Since returning to the side Keegan has been all three…

The Irish midfielders return has been so successful that an epidemic has arisen among Doncaster Rovers fans: Keegan-mania. It’s about time too as in recent years he has been one of the most underrated players in a Rovers shirt, not to mention handsome. As the DRSG’s resident Keegan enthusiast, I think it’s about time I explained to you why he’s so fantastic and why you should let him into your hearts, if you haven’t already.

Although his role is an unassuming one, Keegan controls a game like no other. He gets the ball from back to front, something we struggled to do when he was injured and he keeps the younger midfielders alongside him (such as Grant and Middleton) in order. He is a natural leader and keeps a cool head under pressure, something obviously supported by Darren Ferguson as he handed Keegs the captains armband in James Coppinger’s absence against Stoke recently.

It’s also no secret that he poses a physical threat. The modern game lacks players who are willing to get stuck in with a morally dubious tackle to win back the ball and Keegan relishes such bone crunching showdowns like no other. His ability to throw himself into a good old fashioned challenge and win the ball is something that can turn games and is much more likely to get a reaction from the crowd than flicks and tricks or passing backwards and sideways (take note Harold Forrester and Richard Wellens).

In our recent match report for the Gillingham game we stated that ‘when Keegan plays well, Rovers play well’ and this has been a common theme since his return to the side. He is an influential player who is clearly well respected by the squad, so much so that last year he was voted players’ player of the year. Curtis Main must have been furious.

Then there was THAT goal. People joke about Keegan’s shooting ability because he isn’t one to score that often. When he stepped up at Burton out of the blue to take that free kick, the away end audibly groaned as one. Keegan silenced his doubters in unforgettable and spectacular fashion with a free kick that will be remembered by all who witnessed it for years to come.

Paul Keegan is undoubtedly an unsung hero at Rovers and after playing over 100 times for us since 2011 he certainly deserves his seemingly meteoric rise to legendary status. Despite the fact that he wears shorts that are a little too tight on his lovely rear end sometimes!