Two teams who have been tormented by injury problems face off against one another, but will Rovers be able to bounce back from their loss against Blackpool?
The last time Wycombe Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers met was in 2006, drawing 2-2 due to goals from Graeme Lee and Jonathan Forte. In fact, the two clubs have only met three times with Rovers never losing a game against them.
As I sit here, with my laptop on my knee, I am still in a state of depression from the tragic day out at the seaside. The way Rovers performed certainly raised a few concerns. The lack of Andy Williams in the side seems to have caused a lack of determination, mental strength and a passion to succeed. We have spent every appearance without him desperately hanging on to wins we’d only just attained and that stroke of luck was certainly about to change. This poor run of form definitely needs to be fixed, and fast. Perhaps the addition of Tyler Garratt rather than Cedric Evina, who may need resting after taking a knock against Blackpool. He has been a major weakness in defence as of late. Garratt has shown promise during pre-season and in the EFL Trophy and I hope he will add that solidity – along with an ability to actually defend – that we have been lacking in recent fixtures. On a more positive note, Marko Marosi is probably going to be fit despite hobbling off the field after the fourth Blackpool goal went in. Marko has been brilliant in goal all season since becoming Rovers’ number one, making saves that have certainly ensured we hung on to a few victories.
This season, Gareth Ainsworth’s men find themselves 21st in the table, only winning one game this month so far. This low position in the table is presumably due to them having a bit of an injury crisis at the beginning of the season. However, in a similar way to Rovers they may be slowly regaining their formerly absent players as they become fit which may mean that they will be more impressive than anyone can predict – especially if the newly fit additions are particularly impressive.
One to watch
Adebayo Akinfenwa: Like this wasn’t the worlds’ most obvious choice. The ex-rovers striker is an absolute tank and there is no doubt he will tear the sloppier members of our defence to shreds with his immense presence and super-human strength. However, Andy Butler may actually relish the idea of marking the strongest man in English football, and certainly isn’t afraid of such physical battles. It might be interesting to watch.
John Marquis: Since Andy Williams abandoned him up front, it doesn’t seem that the best signing of the Summer really knows what to do with himself. He seemed totally lost on his own on Saturday and, instead of being as hard working as he usually is, did nothing of note all game. He needs to step up and dig in to ensure he makes up for the absence of his strike partner.
It takes a lot to ruin at day out at the seaside for me. Amazingly, Rovers managed it.
I was in high hopes when I arrived in Blackpool on Saturday. Before the game, I was sat in a chippy attached to the Tower, looking at the Central Pier, the donkeys walking along the beach and the famous brown, murky sea when I made a very bold claim: “I think we’ll win every game this month. No doubt about it”. Our performances so far this month, although not brilliant, showed promise of great things and made picking up tough wins seem easy.
I was wrong, so very wrong. Perhaps the sea air got in my system and simply clouded my judgement, or perhaps Rovers should have won but instead completely fell to pieces. Seemingly, being in a popular holiday resort allowed Fergies’ men the perfect excuse to take a day off, get out a deck chair and not even try.
When the game started, I genuinely still thought my prediction was right. Within forty seconds Rovers had taken the lead, albeit due to an own goal from Blackpool defender Taylor deflecting the ball into the back of the net following Rovers’ first attack. Blair looked great as he ran along the right wing, Marquis managed to create chances despite being up front on his own, Baudry looked strong and comfortable in his position despite possibly lacking match fitness.
Just like riding the Pepsi Max after a few suspect pints in Blackpool, everything quickly went downhill. An absolutely pathetic excuse for a tackle from Jordan Houghton just outside the box, and a quick free-kick left our defence totally unprepared and allowed Blackpool to get even. This gave a visible life to Blackpool’s game and their ‘one to watch’ Potts managed to somehow effortlessly chip the ball over Marko Marosi, putting us behind at half time. Playing the usual role of ‘onlooker’ during both first half goals was Cedric Evina; though he did seem to take a knock just before the free kick. Nobody will ever know wether it was the ongoing effect of the knock that made his movement so static or his ongoing determination to prove he’s shit at defending.
In the second half, Blackpool started things off the way Rovers did in the first half, scoring a goal in the 47th and 48th minutes. It is impossible to tell why Rovers totally fell apart in such a horrific, disappointing and downright depressing fashion. It was one of them games where passing the ball to your own players suddenly became a foreign concept, defending seemed like the most challenging task our back line had ever seen and the Blackpool side kicked lumps out of us across the park – much to the delight of the disinterested referee it seemed.
If any fans in that away end thought things couldn’t get any worse by this point, they were sadly mistaken when one of our most impressive players this season so far, Marko Marosi, was taken off due to what looked like a very serious injury to his back or ribs and couldn’t even stand up straight as the physio helped him off the pitch. Ross Etheridge, who was obviously delighted, didn’t even look at his fellow goalkeeper as he reclaimed his place in the net.
Rovers began to pick up pace during the latter part of the second half. When Tommy Rowe scored his first penalty (and the 2nd of a depressing 6th taken by Rovers players this season), its safe to say the Rovers fans were shocked. Chants about winning 5-4 echoed around the almost empty stadium and the disbelief that we’d actually netted a spot kick on this dismal day was evident on the faces of many…
This didn’t last long when he missed his second penalty of the game, cementing defeat and ruining what could have been a lovely day out.
- Ross Etheridge: Ross has been desperate to get back into the Rovers side since he was replaced by Marosi in the EFL Cup game against Nottingham Forest. Marosi has since been an exceptional goalkeeper, making Etheridge’s first team hopes seem very slim. He must be delighted at the opportunity to once again prove himself to Fergie.
- Andy Williams: I miss him. I miss his work ethic, I miss his constant threat in front of goal, I miss his slightly poor attitude when he flails his arms about or rests them on his hips, I miss how bloody brilliant we play when he’s in the side. Please have a speedy recovery Andy, we love you.
- The trouble before half time: I disagree with fighting at football games full stop, but at least this confrontation between two Rovers fans provided some actual entertainment and excitement that was very much lacking throughout. It was like watching WWE honestly. At least it meant that certain supporters were lucky enough to miss the rest of this diabolical performance.
- Marko Marosi: I’m absolutely gutted that he’s gotten injured, especially considering the progress he’s made so far this season. In addition to this, conceding four sloppy goals allows Etheridge to further stake his claim in the first team.
- Cedric Evina: It was like he was completely non-existent in defence today. Even more so than usual. I don’t even hate Evina, at times I really value his attacking play, and with the living nightmare of ATS still fresh in my mind, we should be thankful that he is playing over him. However it baffles me that Tyler Garratt hasn’t even had a look-in when it comes to making the first team instead, given the blatant weak-spot being exposed time and time again.
- Paul Keegan: The minute we went 1-0 up, I shouted “get Keegan on” and I meant it. We needed his solidity to hang on to the win we had attained, in the way SOD used to with the lovely Mark Wilson. If he can’t get a game in fixtures like this where we desperately require solidity in midfield to support a sloppy defence, when will we ever see my favourite Irishman return again?
Three wins in a row have taken Rovers to within striking distance of leaders Plymouth, but everyone will be looking for improvement after a laboured showing last time out…
Saturday’s win over Colchester was earned thanks largely to the heroics of goalkeeper Marko Marosi, rather than any sort of excellent play from Rovers, and without him or Tommy Rowe we would easily have lost the game. There can be no repeat of that aimless display here, as we head to Bloomfield Road looking to pile on the misery for out-of-sorts Blackpool.
The Seasiders have endured a plunge down the pyramid even steeper than ourselves these last few years, and continue to struggle as the 2016/17 season begins to take shape. Gary Bowyer’s men sit 17th in the table, only two points above the relegation zone, and things are far from sunny on the coast. The ongoing dictatorial rule of the abhorrent Oyston family is crippling the club, and we here at DRSG continue to support the beleaguered Blackpool fans in their endeavours to save their team.
On the field, things aren’t going any better. Four games this month have yielded no wins, and the manner of defeat in their latest fixture away at Accrington is a scenario we know all too well. Two goals in the dying minutes snatched the points away from Blackpool, Stanley winning 2-1 to move into the top 7 and extend Blackpool’s winless run.
Their last victory came at home, an impressive 3-1 victory over Portsmouth, but Rovers should be encouraged by the apparent fragility of their opponents despite their desire to bounce back from that stinging late defeat last week. We only have two wins in the last dozen meetings to boast here, but will be keen for revenge; remembering that disappointing Easter Monday home defeat as our League One place slipped away should add extra impetus.
Mathieu Baudry is pushing for a first start after another strong substitute appearance, whilst Cedric Evina may count himself lucky to line up alongside the Frenchman this weekend after YET another poor outing at left back. Liam Mandeville remains the favourite to start up front now Andy Williams’ long term absence is confirmed (wives lament). He too will need to improve on his performance against Colchester if he is to be taken seriously as a Rovers first teamer.
One to Watch
With 4 goals and 5 assists to his name already this term, Brad Potts is the main playmaker for Blackpool. The midfielder, a young talent signed from Carlisle a year ago, will cause numerous problems for the Rovers defence, who will need to do their best to stifle his creativity and output.
Liam Mandeville can maybe be forgiven a quiet outing last weekend after a poor team performance, but the teenager must step up and show he can fill the role vacated by the injured Williams soon or else he will not be kept in the side. Other young talents are pushing to take his place, and it would be hard to argue with Alfie Beestin replacing him if it is another shy display here.
Far from a comfortable afternoon for Rovers, but Tommy Rowe’s deft finish makes it three wins in a row…
Fergie’s side maintained the division’s best home record with another win, giving us clear daylight above the Play Off places now. Leaders Plymouth are also now within touching distance after the 1-0 win, but it wasn’t plain sailing for the home side at the Keepmoat this time out.
Visitors Colchester made things very difficult indeed, stopping our usual free-flowing passing game with excellent pressing in the middle of the park. As a result of this, we struggled to carve out many clear opportunities, with only Rowe’s strike and a John Marquis effort cleared off the line really causing any real danger to Sam Walker’s goal.
Whilst we failed to get going for 90 minutes, Colchester found no way past Rovers’ shot-stopper Mark Marosi, growing into his role as #1 keeper with every game, who pulled off a string of fine saves to earn a deserved clean sheet and almost single-handedly win the three points. John McGreal’s side also saw one or two good chances fly past the post, and on another day could easily have come away with the win themselves.
Liam Mandeville once again stepped in up front, this time for the injured Andy Williams, but struggled to match his encouraging performance against Barnet and faded from the game. However, it was strike partner Marquis who squandered the chance to kill the game off after running clean through in the second half, only to take too long rounding the keeper and seeing his low effort cleared off the line by Richard Brindley.
Three wins in a row means we should be pretty pleased to be sat aloft in 2nd in League Two, but the struggles of the past two games show we must sharpen up and get back to our usual rhythm is we want to maintain this fine early season form.
Marko Marosi – The clear Man of the Match, Marosi showed that it can be as important having a top class keeper to win you games as it is a prolific striker. A succession of excellent saves kept Rovers ahead as Colchester threatened time after time, this was perhaps his finest showing to date.
Tommy Rowe – Despite being brought off early due to an injury, Rowe showed the composed quality needed to score just before half time with a cool finish over Sam Walker to win us the game, said quality further emphasised by John Marquis’ failure to do the same in the second half.
Mathieu Baudry – No one is pushing for a start more than the Frenchman now after another assured performance from the substitutes bench. Baudry looks calm, strong and skilled with the ball at his feet, and may well get his full league debut at Blackpool next Saturday.
Cedric Evina – The left back is going more into his shell every week, and will not want to remember his performance in this one. Simple mistakes littered his game here, and he failed to contribute enough at either end to really justify keeping his place ahead of Tyler Garratt.
Liam Mandeville – We should not expect too much too soon from the teenager, but this wasn’t the kind of performance we know we can see from Mandeville. He deserved the chance to step up with Williams out for two months, but needs to have a good game next week or else questions will be asked of where Fergie goes with his attacking options after that.
Joe Wright – His form has been a pleasant surprise all season, but Wright struggled to cope with Colchester’s hustle and bustle front line and was rightly hauled off in favour of Mathieu Baudry in the second half. The Wales U21 has plenty of potential and can be a key player for years to come here but right now, Baudry looks the more ready of the two to start alongside Andy Butler.
A dramatic late win ensured Rovers kept up the pace with the leaders last Saturday, but how will Rovers cope without their top scorer as Colchester come to town?
Andy Williams was the hero against Barnet, turning in Matty Blair’s superb cross to give Fergie’s boys a 3-2 win having squandered a two-goal lead minutes before. For Williams though, that effort looks set to be his last in the short term as he left the ground on crutches and is not expected to be fit to play this weekend.
Colchester United are the latest visitors to Lakeside, a team who came down to League Two with Rovers last season. You could say that they dragged us down with them, a 4-1 thumping in Essex on Good Friday still fresh in the memory for fans and, hopefully, the players as well.
However, both teams are very different propositions to the ones that lined up on that day, and it is Rovers who have made the better start to life back in the basement. The Barnet win was a seventh of the campaign and fourth in six outings, whilst the club are now clear by four goals as top scoring team in the division.
By contrast, Colchester are the epitome of average to date, sitting 13th in the standings with four wins, four losses and four draws. Their goal difference also demonstrates the flat rate by which John McGreal’s team are chugging along – 16 for, 16 against – and are without a win in five league matches, whilst their last away maximum came at the end of August.
Darren Ferguson will be able to call upon John Marquis up front, back from suspension, but owing to Williams’ injury will probably keep young forward Liam Mandeville in the line-up alongside him after a strong showing deputising against Barnet. Mathieu Baudry also performed well when brought on as part of a tactical switch in the second half last week, but if the manager sticks to the diamond from kick-off here, expect to see Baudry back on the bench.
One to Watch
Despite being relegated, Colchester possessed a wealth of strong attacking talents last season as proven by their 4-1 win last time the teams met. The likes of Moncur, Sordell, Harriott and Gilbey have all understandably moved on now, but Sammie Szmodics remains having signed a three-year contract in the summer. Szmodics is the main outlet through midfield for the U’s and has three goals this season, the last coming in their most recent victory over Blackpool.
John Marquis is restored to the starting line-up for Rovers this weekend but will be asked to perform with more pressure on his shoulders in the absence of Williams. Usually the support striker for our top scorer, Marquis will have to step up and lead the line himself here with Mandeville providing the support instead.
Doncaster Rovers FC 3-2 Barnet FC: Match Report
In a win that Fergie deemed ‘the best of the season’, Rovers managed to secure victory in the dying embers of the game after facing a team with a very unusual style of play.
I don’t imagine that there were many Doncaster Rovers supporters that thought the Keepmoat would become a fortress this season. Luckily, all these doubters were very wrong with Rovers yet to lose a home fixture in the league this season. There were only two changes to the side on Saturday, with Niall Mason coming in to replace the injured Frazer Richardson and Liam Mandeville, who impressed in the EFL Trophy against Derby U23s, filling the void in the team that had been left by the suspended John Marquis. Both of these new additions performed very well, and the inclusion of a right-back that was an actual defender enabled Matty Blair to truly shine.
Rovers started very well in the first half with James Coppinger scoring an absolute worldie 15 minutes in. The record breaking captain has been hugely impressive of late and once again he hit home in spectacular fashion making him joint second in the goal scoring rankings with a whopping six goals so far this season.
Liam Mandeville also impressed creating chance after chance for the Rovers; the young player’s work ethic is something that simply cannot be faulted and he ran almost constantly for the whole game.
Then, Matty Blair happened. In my opinion, the guy has been a wonderful addition to the squad this season and he impressed again on Saturday. After an impeccable one-two with Andy Williams, he put Rovers 2-0 up just before half time.
However, with our ever consistent defending, there was always going to be a Barnet goal on the cards. It arrived courtesy of an interesting tactic which involved one of Martin Allen’s men who had a throw to rival Rory Delap. To say it was a ‘long-throw’ would be an understatement, throw-ins from anywhere on the pitch offered them an easy advantage against our oft out-jumped back four. Especially when physically big players such as John Akinde and the eventual goal scorer Dembélé were lobbed up front for every single one. It was only a matter of time until they scored from this and although it wasn’t exceptionally beautiful football (at times it was downright dull) it was certainly an effective means of turning something that is usually an insignificant part of the game into attacking play. This constant stream of arial attacking in combination with Marko Marosi’s injured hand made it inevitable we would concede.
Of course, once Barnet got a goal back Rovers began to fall to pieces yet again. It is admittedly a bit worrying that our two previous games in all competitions before Saturday had ended in last minute equalisers from the visitors to make the score line 2-2. This happened once again, with our aforementioned ‘fortress’ seemingly crumbling. This sort of mental fragility that Fergies Rovers side continually displays needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later if we are to escape the continual perils of conceding in the last minute. (Dont you dare mention his dad. Don’t do it. I know you want to!)
Barnet’s equaliser was scored by the now infamous international ‘superstar’ Luke Gambin who instead of starting for Malta and playing at Wembley against England was on the bench for most of Barnet’s game against Doncaster Rovers. Personally, I’d much rather play against the likes of James Coppinger, Tommy Rowe and Andy Butler than Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Jordan Henderson every day of the week so I don’t really have a clue what the guy was complaining so much about.
When all Rovers fans thought hope was lost, a man who has divided opinion this season ensured that attractive, patient football, rather than endless chucking the ball forward in a monotonous fashion, won the battle. Andy Williams, with his attitude/confidence problems seemingly behind him slotted home a last minute winner that i doubt anyone in the stadium thought would happen.
– Matty Blair: I think I’m slowly falling for Matty Blair this season, and when I say ‘slowly’ I obviously mean head over heel. One of the best signings of the summer, Blair was in an absolute league of his own during Saturday’s match where he scored one goal and had assists in both others. Without the added burden of having to play as a right-back, Blair can have much more control over the attacking momentum in a game. His pace is rarely matched by a defender and his crosses always seem to hit the mark. If I had my way, he’d be in the ‘winners’ section each week – but sometimes Adam writes these reports.
– James Coppinger: It seems like the Copps we knew from the days of SOD has made a return to the Keepmoat once again – and thank god for that! The guy is basically ageless and has proved wrong the doubters who claimed he was ‘too old’ and ‘past it’ at the beginning of the season. His goal against Barnet was something else entirely, perhaps one of his best, and his work ethic always has been and always will be impeccable. The guy puts some much younger players to shame.
– Andy Williams: I think Andy Williams is an absolutely incredible striker. I have given him grief this season for his lack of confidence and poor attitude in the past, which makes me even more delighted that he seems to have gotten over himself and started to net goal after goal. He is now Rovers’ top goal scorer and there’s simply no denying he deserves that accolade.
– The referee: Today’s referee was Trevor Kettle. I say no more.
– Long throw-ins: I hate them. Tommy Spurr never created goals from them when he used to take them back in the day, which fuelled the hatred. After seeing about 7000 of them on Saturday, and watching Gareth bloody Bale do the same for Wales on Sunday, I never want to see another one again.
–John Marquis: Arguably our best and hardest working player, the striker may struggle to feature in the team after the excellent performances of the front two. It doesn’t seem that fair to drop Mandeville after a performance that was faultless.
Fresh off the back of our best win of the season, Rovers prepare for the visit of resilient Barnet…
Whilst many would say a return of four points from our last three games would be acceptable considering the standard of opposition, few would have predicted our sole victory in that run coming away at Portsmouth. Rovers triumphed at Fratton Park with a 2-1 win courtesy of goals from Andy Williams and John Marquis to move up to 2nd in the League Two table, but the importance of that win will only be solidified if we can follow it up.
Marquis, so impressive this season so far with his busy, relentless style, will miss Saturday’s game through suspension, posing a big selection problem for Darren Ferguson. Fergie has preferred starting with two strikers for his entire tenure as manager but is faced with limited options and may opt to deploy Williams as a lone front-man, but both Liam Mandeville and Alfie Beestin have done themselves no harm in pushing for a first start of the season recently.
Martin Allen’s Barnet side sit in 18th place and are without a win in four outings but have proven hard to beat, drawing six of their first ten games and losing only twice, said losses coming at the hands of our last two opponents Portsmouth and Carlisle, so it is by no means a given that Rovers will walk out with the three points this weekend.
Whether the formation is changed or not, Rovers could field an unfamiliar line-up to the one we’ve become used to through our injury crisis, with several first team players now back to full fitness. Mathieu Baudry is pushing for a full league debut in defence, whilst Paul Keegan is also back to 100% again after a long spell on the sidelines, providing competition for places in the centre of midfield.
One to Watch
John Akinde is the key man for the Bees, an imposing striker with a keen eye for goal. The experienced Akinde has notched seven goals in a dozen games so far this season, adding to the 57 scored over the past two seasons for the North London side.
A tricky one to call but whomever replaces John Marquis in the side has some mighty big boots to fill. At present it looks like Liam Mandeville is top of the list to come into the side, having made a good impression off the bench on several occasions this season. Goals are the main thing missing from the youngster’s repertoire, but he has a great chance to fix that here.
No win in two games classes as a bad run for Rovers at the moment, so off we go to the South Coast to try and put it right…
17 points, 3rd in the table…it is a “satisfactory” opening ten games according to Darren Ferguson, who rightly acknowledges that we can be better despite almost being exactly where we want to be at present. Indeed, if the season were to end right now I think we’d all be pleased, as it’d mean we will be making the immediate return to League One that has been demanded by all at the club.
Luton undid us in our last away outing, and despite a good response on Tuesday a draw was all that could be taken from a combative encounter with Carlisle, so Rovers are yet to beat a true promotion rival. Our next opponents Portsmouth are exactly that, the favourites for the title who unfortunately are scoring goals for fun at Fratton Park.
Despite this Rovers are the highest scoring team in the division outright, a fact that also enables to sit directly above Portsmouth, and the automatic promotion line, by virtue of netting more in the first ten games. That stat could be even better, but Rovers have ironically struggled to put away chances including three penalty misses, all from different players after Tommy Rowe’s spot kick struck a post with the scores at 2-1 against Carlisle.
Portsmouth have scored in every home game going back to March, and have 12 goals in their last 3 matches on home turf, winning the lot. The Pompey ranks include no less than four ex-Rovers players, and whilst Enda Stevens and Milan Lalkovic can probably expect good receptions from the travelling fans the same cannot be said of Kyle Bennett or Curtis Main, two players who flattered to deceive in the red and white hoops.
Rovers may finally turn to Mathieu Baudry to start in central defence, but it would be wise to expect minimal changes again as Fergie looks to keep the consistency in our ranks going. James Coppinger has begun to look a little weary in the past week but is still a pivotal part of the midfield, and strike duo Williams and Marquis will look to continue their personal battle for the Golden Boot, now locked together on five apiece along with Coppinger.
One to Watch
Eyes may turn to Curtis Main if he is selected, but the biggest threat up front for Portsmouth has to be Conor Chaplin. The teenager is carving out a great reputation for himself having broken into the first team at the back end of the 2014/15 season, and has scored 3 goals in his last 4 games.
John Marquis scored another superb effort against Carlisle, bringing his tally for the season up to five, and he will have a point to prove going back to one of the many clubs with whom he spent time on loan from Millwall. Marquis is also one booking away from a ban, which would be a big blow to the front line that lacks any real cover.