Category Archives: Match Report

Doncaster Rovers vs Cambridge United – Report

A much improved performance sees Rovers finally off the mark…

  • An injury to Niall Mason saw Mitchell Lund return to the starting line up but more surprising was the inclusion of Tyler Garrett and Marko Marosi at the expense of Riccardo Calder and Ross Etheridge respectively. The chopping and changing of the goalkeeper suggests that Fergie doesn’t know who his best keeper is. A worrying thought 4 games into the season.
  • Fergie talked in the run up to this game that Rovers must win at all costs. The players must not have been listening as they should have been behind after 30 seconds. A nothing ball was headed on to find Ben Williamson through on goal but the striker could only hit the side netting. A better striker would have punished Rovers.
  • A hectic start saw Cambridge keeper Will Norris booked for hand ball. He ran way out of his box in his effort to prevent a corner and bizarrely handled the ball. It wasn’t to be the last strange incident on a surreal Tuesday night.
  • Rovers began to get their bearings and when John Marquis was bundled over in the area it looked like Rovers would get some reward for their endeavour. Marquis picked himself up, dusted himself off (as I am required to say by law every time a fouled striker takes the resulting penalty) and saw his tame penalty saved by  Will Norris.
  • To be fair to Marquis he didn’t let his head drop and with Copps pulling the strings behind him, the former Millwall man carved out two good opportunities for himself but couldn’t finish. It is unlikely that Marquis will face a defence as charitable as that of Cambridge again this season and whilst it is encouraging to see him carving out his own opportunities, he needs to be more clinical.
  • The crowd were disgruntled at half time but Rovers had been the better side. The second half continued in the same vein with the U’s offering zero attacking intent. This lack of an outlet allowed Copps to be employed exclusively as an attacker and that freedom resulted in another impressive display.
  • The games second bizarre incident saw the assistant referee unable to continue presumably due to illness. This in of itself is not that unusual but the fact that the issue took 14 minutes to resolve including a request going over the tannoy for a supporter with a ref licence to take over from the fourth official was definitely a first for me.
  • The worry with a big break is that it will slow momentum for the team on top but to Rovers credit they picked up from where they left off as Matty Blair’s pinpoint cross was headed home by a clearly thrilled John Marquis. He had done everything but score.
  • Rovers continued to be the better team but needed a goal line clearance from Andy Butler deep into stoppage time to take all three points. An equalizer would have been harsh on Rovers. A deserved victory.

Winners

John Marquis – The former Millwall man went from zero to hero as he made up for his missed penalty with an emphatic header. Whilst Marquis and Williams seem to still be on entirely different pages, both players are capable of making something from nothing and should trouble even the best league 2 defences.

Matty Blair – It was an industrious rather than flamboyant performance from Blair but his cross for the match winning goal was a thing of beauty. Perfectly weighted, impossible to defend and something Rovers have lacked in recent games. Hopefully it will be the first of many assists this season for Matty Blair.

James Coppinger – Two matches, two man of the match awards. Copps was given space to roam by a poor Cambridge side and he made the most of it. On another night he could have had at least a hat trick of assists and his second half pass to set Williams free on the left hand side was breathtaking. The former Swindon striker’s tame finish was unworthy of such a incisive pass.

Losers

Cambridge United – After a bright start Cambridge lapsed alarmingly and the 1-0 scoreline flattered them. The U’s were toothless in attack, lost the midfield battle and looked disorganized at the back. Only an excellent performance from keeper Will Norris kept the scoreline respectable.

Ross Etheridge – Dropped twice and the season is only four games old with Fergie saying he wanted to take Etheridge ‘out of the firing line’. Worrying times for the young goalkeeper.

Fergie’s critics (myself included) – Darren Ferguson’s stubborn insistence on playing 5-3-2 was probably the deciding factor in Rovers relegation last term but it worked a treat here (albeit in slightly modified form with Houghton sitting as a DM) as Cambridge were totally nullified. This system was initially very successful at the start of Fergie’s reign and he will be hoping that he can make the team click again.

Doncaster Rovers vs Crawley Town – Report

Rovers fail to break down poor Crawley side…

  • The starting line up saw expected returns for Copps and Ross Etheridge, as well as a start for Riccardo Calder after he impressed midweek.
  • Calder continued his good form into the first half as he was consistently Rovers’ brightest spark. Shame that everyone around him was total dogger. The defence was shaky, Tommy Rowe was anonymous, Copps couldn’t pick out a team mate and the attack was toothless.
  • Things looked very grim for Rovers when going in 1-0 down at half time. Calder ran down a blind alley after picking up Andy Butler’s weak clearance, a raking crossfield ball was enough to pick apart Rovers defence with Matty Blair again showing that he isn’t  a defender. The resulting cross was spilled by Etheridge and bundled over the line by James Collins. Soft.
  • It is commendable that Joe Wright tries to bring the ball out of defence  but he was caught out too many times in the first half. His half time substitution for Tyler Garrett was no surprise and Garrett offered a more solid presence after the break.
  • As on Tuesday night against Forest, Rovers looked a different side in the second half. The equalizer was one straight from the training ground as Matty Blair pulled a low corner to the penalty spot for Copps to smash home on the turn. A fine goal.
  • After that it was all Rovers but there was a disappointing lack of clear cut chances. Copps powerful free kick was smartly saved by Yusuf Mersin. The Turkish goalkeeper looked shaky aside from that, his awful distribution gifting Rovers possession on a number of occasions but the reds were unable to capitalise.

Winners

James Coppinger – Copps has had a number of critics this season and it was set to be another disjointed performance until his excellently taken goal. From there Copps was by far Rovers best player and delivered a number of perfect crosses only for Andy Williams to be nowhere near any of them. A return to form? Too early to say but this performance was at least encouraging.

Riccardo Calder – Our best player in the second half against Forest and our best player in the first half here. Faded a little in the second half and was promptly subbed but if he can maintain a decent standard for a full 90 minutes then we have a decent player on our hands (until January at least).

John Marquis – Worked tirelessly all game, showed good awareness to pick out his team mates and generally made a nuisance of himself. Just needs a goal now.

Losers

Ross Etheridge – Well this has been an inauspicious start to say the least for the young keeper. Etheridge has conceded 4 goals from 7 shots on target and at least 3 of those have directly been his fault. Still, he can only get better…

Andy Williams – Maybe his worst Rovers performance yet. Uncharacteristically, the delivery into the box from Copps, Calder, Rowe, Blair and others was uniformly excellent but Williams movement and positioning was awful all afternoon. Add on a couple of good chances blazed over the bar and you are left with a rotten game. Maybe time for a stint on the bench?

Home town support – 4327 is a pathetic crowd for a sunny August afternoon but it is a reflection of the dire football combined with ticket prices that are still too high. When will Rovers realize that more fans paying less money is at least the same as hardly any fans paying more money.

Rob Johnson

Doncaster Rovers vs Nottingham Forest – Report

Late strike seals an undeserved victory for Forest…

  • The big talking points of the starting line up were the absences of Etheridge and Coppinger. It seems odd that Darren Ferguson has brought in a keeper who he is seemingly unsure about as a number 1. With Thorsten Stuckmann now off the books this seems particularly short sighted.
  • Copps was most likely just rested, whilst he would have been raring to go against his former club, Saturday’s game against Crawley Town is much more important
  • The first half was everything that is wrong with the Fergie era. Round pegs in square holes defensively, poor goalkeeping, tactical ineptitude and a total lack of cutting edge. Matty Blair looked wasted at right wing back and Tyler Garrett lost at left wing back. The three centre midfielder’s were predictably overran by their far superior counterparts and it was no surprise when Rovers went 1-0 down.
  • The goal itself was soft however, particularly as Marko Marosi got a hand to it. He should be disappointed to be beaten from there albeit by a strong strike from David Vaughan.
  • Rovers were lucky to go in only 1-0 down as Forest marauded down both wings and only their profligate finishing ensured a one goal deficit as the referee blew his whistle.
  • To use that classic term from the footballing lexicon, it really was a game of two halves. Riccardo Calder replaced Andy Butler at half time and Rovers started the second half the stronger.
  • As bad as Rovers were in the first half, Forest were ten times worse in the second. Uninspired, uninterested, determined to pass the ball around their back 5 no matter now often it got them in trouble. Rovers were fortunate that the ball fell perfectly for Liam Mandeville to prod home from a corner, but the goal had been coming.
  • From there, Rovers were in the ascendency and it was a cruel twist of fate that sealed the South Yorkshire sides demise. Tommy Rowe looked to have been blatantly scythed down at the edge of the opposition box, only for the referee to wave play on. From the resulting clearance, Jamie Ward found himself one on one with Marosi, slotting home from a difficult angle. Good finish under pressure but he never should have been given the opportunity. Poor from the officials.

Winners

Joe Wright – Composed, strong, determined. Watch and learn Luke McCullough. We have been dying out for someone worthy to partner Andy Butler and we may have finally found our man. Niall Mason also impressed alongside him.

Tommy Rowe – He really is a touch of class. In a game when Rovers had little possession, the former Wolves man was calm and composed and was at the heart of every Rovers attack.

Matty Blair – Did his part defensively and was excellent going forward. There is a nagging feeling that he is going to spend a frustrating season being wasted at right wing back however.

Liam Mandeville – A goal and an assist in three days. He would have taken that I reckon…

Losers

Marko Marosi – This was his big chance to stake a claim for the number 1 jersey and he emphatically fluffed his lines. Showed zero understanding with his defence, had no command of his area, awful distribution and should have done better with the first goal. In the space of two games, goalkeeper has become Rovers biggest problem position.

Harry Middleton – We wont face a midfield as good as Jamie Paterson, Chris Cohen and David Vaughan again this season but too often the academy graduate was a passenger. What kind of midfielder is Harry Middleton? He doesn’t do much tackling, offers zero goal threat and creates little in terms of chances. He must improve.

Apostolos Vellios – Nottingham Forest’s £1 million summer signing looked like a competition winner all game. His only contribution was a yellow card.

Accrington Stanley vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

A brand new season, but the same old story at Doncaster Rovers…

  • For too long now, we have seen Rovers struggle to put their stamp on games. Darren Ferguson’s teams seem incapable of controlling proceedings and always look like conceding. The momentum shifts in this game were typical of his entire tenure at the club to date.
  • A golden opportunity to go in front early was squandered when Andy Williams hit his 2nd minute penalty with all the conviction of a Russian drug tester, and minutes later Rommy Boco slotted in to put Accrington ahead despite suspicions of offside.
  • Tommy Rowe took his goal well to bring us back into the contest, but that was completely undone when Matty Pearson took a pot shot from 30 yards and it somehow managed to squirm into the bottom corner. Debutant keeper Ross Etheridge failed to meet the bounce of the ball and was left flapping at thin air.
  • It was a day to forget for both goalies, Stanley’s Aaron Chapman having a calamitous afternoon. First he bundled John Marquis to the floor for a penalty after only 60 seconds, then he dropped a tame effort from Andy Williams into his own net to level the match at 2-2.
  • Chapman can count himself lucky this day didn’t turn out worse for him, guilty of a succession of bad moments throughout the game, redeemed only by his early penalty save from Williams but in truth he was lucky to go the right way and meet the striker’s weak attempt.
  • The story of goalkeeping woe saw its final chapter in injury time however, Sean McConville meeting a superb cross-field ball from substitute Chris Eagles, scything his shot across goal and past Etheridge, who should have done better.
  • How predictable it is becoming for Rovers to concede early and late. Ferguson needs to drill discipline into his players from minute one, instead of seeing lapses in concentration cost us time and time again. We just don’t know how to shut up shop, staying too open into the latter stages of matches.
  • The stubborn insistence on 3-5-2 continues to perplex. Last season we saw this formation deployed despite the personnel not being right for it, and due to a bad spate of injuries we are left in the same situation again. The manager needs to learn to adapt to the players he has available, not plough on with square pegs in round holes.
  • The biggest victim of this was Riccardo Calder. After an impressive pre-season, Calder struggled on the left hand side as he just cannot defend. He was beaten half a dozen times down the flank, but showed enough going forward to suggest he has a place in the team as a left winger.
  • The lack of pre-season minutes showed, an unfamiliar line-up playing like a group of strangers. They may have trained with us through the week, but Niall Mason and Jordan Houghton looked every bit the Saturday morning signings that they were, and will need more time with the squad before they can make a proper impact.
  • Whilst we lost through our own shortcomings, the officiating did not help. Sebastian Stockbridge utterly failed to control proceedings and his assistants were guilty of alarming inconsistency. Sadly we best get used to this standard of refereeing now we’re back in the basement tier.
  • Despite losing several key players from their remarkable promotion push last season, Accrington acquitted themselves well in this game and never gave up in the face of sustained pressure from Rovers. They showed that there will be no easy games in League Two, and our task to go straight back up will not be an easy one.

 

Winners

John Marquis – Probably our best player on the day, Marquis put himself about and held the ball up well. He also made sure the ball was in the net after Chapman had fumbled Williams’ shot over the line, preventing the officials from having to make a big judgement call.

Matty Blair – His pace was a constant threat to the Stanley back line, and despite concerns over his defensive capabilities he performed well at the back when called upon. Indeed it was sub Liam Mandeville who lost his man on that flank for Accrington’s late winner, rather than Blair.

John Coleman – The Stanley manager adapted to the game with his substitutions and made sure his side were able to bounce back when Rovers twice came from behind. The introduction of Chris Eagles proved crucial, the former Man Utd winger expertly picking out McConville for the winning goal.

Losers

Darren Ferguson – Has he learned anything over the summer? It was the same problems as always that cost us in this game. Yes, we have key players missing, but he is too headstrong when it comes to his formation and takes too long to change things.

James Coppinger – The legendary Copps could not cope with his responsibility in centre midfield. Another victim of the formation perhaps, but as team captain he needs to show more leadership to those around him on the pitch.

Rovers Fans – Not only did we have to suffer the performance of the team, but under the baking summer sun on an exposed terrace, there were more than a few red faces through sunburn at full time as well as due to the result.

Adam Stubbings

Doncaster Rovers vs Newcastle United – Report

A positive result for Rovers but at what cost?

  • Rovers started the game with the same 5-3-2 formation favoured by Darren Ferguson last season. The lack of a decent right back was arguably the biggest catalyst for Rovers relegation. After one half of football it is safe to say that Matty Blair is not the answer. More on this later.
  • Blair was constantly beaten down the right side by the marauding Jamaal Lascelles. The problem with 5-3-2 is that it calls for too many square pegs in round holes. Alcock also looked uncomfortable on the left side of a back three and Evina was non existent.
  • Newcastle started with a strong side featuring Jonjo Shelvey, Daryl Janmaat, Aleksandar Mitrović and Matt Ritchie amongst others. As well organized and hard working as Rovers were, lets not take away from how awful Newcastle were in the first half. Aside from Lascelles, and a few moments of genius from Shelvey, the Magpies were bereft of ideas and lacked match fitness.
  • As both sides were relegated last season, it is unsurprising that the first goal of the game came from a calamitous error. New signing Matz Sels had a shocker in the Newcastle goal as he took a terrible touch from a back pass and then promptly pushed over John Marquis. Andy Williams duly dispatched the penalty. 1-0.
  • The second goal was almost as bad from a Newcastle point of view. Copps floated the ball to the back post, where Andy Butler was possibly the most unmarked a player has ever been from a corner. Butler had time to adjust his hair, top up his tan, and catch a few Pokemon, before heading to the back post where Andy Williams was waiting to nod home 2-0.
  • A solid first half from Rovers was marred by a serious looking injury to Joe Wright who was then replaced by Mitchell Lund. Wright looked assured and calm at the back, something that was definitely missing in the last campaign. Hopefully he will be fighting fit come the start of the season.
  • It was a different Rovers side that came out for the second half with Marosi, Garratt, Mandeville and Calder replacing Etheridge, Evina, Rowe and Blair. Calder was direct and looked confident but Garratt struggled to adapt to playing as part of a back five. You would think that Rovers miserable relegation would perhaps have changed Fergie’s mind about playing wing backs. In fact, he seems to have strengthened his resolve on this matter, despite all evidence pointing to it being a mistake.
  • Newcastle dominated the early exchanges of the second half and grabbed a soft equaliser as Isaac Hayden’s deflected effort looped over Marko Marosi. Fortuitous but probably deserved.
  • More bad news for Rovers just past the hour mark as Harry Middleton was stretchered off. Before the stretcher had even been set down, it was called into action again. This time for Craig Alcock. It was an evening that included all Rovers greatest hits: slapshod defending, freak injuries, bad luck and conceding late goals. Encore!
  • Things went from bad to worse for Rovers as youngster Joey McCormick left the field with a shoulder injury. Despite the fact that Prince Moncrieffe was reportedly waiting in the wings, Rovers finished the game with 10 men. Newcastle took full advantage as Ayoze Perez struck on the 90th minute. Whilst it was disappointing to concede so late, a draw was probably a fair result.

Winners

Rovers goalkeepers – Both Ross Etheridge and Marko Marosi were excellent in the Rovers goal. Marosi in particular made a number of top class saves and he was understandably furious to be beaten by two deflected efforts. Marosi has been a patient and willing understudy and it is pleasing to see him doing so well.

Both sets of fans – 5698 is an excellent attendance for a pre season friendly and the figure of 2352 from Newcastle is, quite frankly, ridiculous, even taking into account all the Newcastle fans from Donny. The Black Bank was vocal and positive throughout. Lets keep it going into the start of the season now. Also nice to see Copps get a smattering of applause from the Newcastle end.

Mitchell Lund – I have written more about our right back problem then any other one thing on this site. It gives me great pleasure then to say that Mitchell Lund was excellent after replacing Joe Wright. Sharp, strong in the tackle and confident. The complete opposite of the boy who looked like a competition winner at the start of last season. Keep it up lad.

Losers

Rovers injury list – Alcock, Wright and Middleton join Mathieu Baudry, Gary McSheffrey and Paul Keegan on the treatment table. Hardly an ideal start to the season.

Rafa Benitez –Not long ago Rafa was managing Real Madrid. Now he finds himself at the Keepmoat Stadium. Presumably he found time to reel off a few facts to Darren Ferguson about his Dad…

Darren Ferguson – I can’t believe that Fergie gave a game to A. Trialist. Such a backward step to be looking at a player who has failed at so many other clubs. Ferguson out!

Whoever picked the man of the match – Matty Blair?? Utterly bizarre. Donny Dog had a better game.

Rossington Main vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

Can they do it on a cold warm, Tuesday night in Rosso though? Yes it turns out…

  • Normally the starting line-up for the first friendly of preseason would be immaterial but there was one huge talking point from the first XI at Rossington Main. Returning legend Paul Green donned the red and white hoops for the first time since 2008. Massive.
  • It is unclear whether Greeny is just training with Rovers to maintain his fitness, or if he is a potential signing but either way it was a joy to see him on the pitch and combining with James Coppinger. Somewhere, Sean O’ Driscoll was smiling a satisfied smile to himself.
  • Elsewhere, the starting line-up was a mixture of youth players and new signings, with only Copps, Lund and Alcock returning from the senior squad of last season. Riccardo Calder was also a surprise starter having only signed hours before.
  • Oxford Street is a cracking little ground complete with tea bar, a covered stand and a small seated area. An attendance of 1425 is the highest ever at Oxford Street and the staff and officials rose to the occasion, making everyone feel welcome. Ridiculous really that I was keen to attend as Oxford Street is a ‘new ground’ for me, when it has been only a bus ride away this whole time.
  • The result, of course, barely matters but it was encouraging to see Rovers start with energy and effort in a surprisingly fast paced first half. Rovers bombarded the Rossington Main goal throughout, but it took a pair of set pieces to break them down.
  • First, Will Longbottom was fouled on the edge of the area and Coppinger duly dispatched the free kick into the top corner. Yet another moment of quality to savour from one of Donny’s most beloved players. Scorer turned provider a few minutes later as Copps’ floated corner to the edge of the box was smashed home by Longbottom, despite the best efforts of the Rosso players on the line.
  • A game against a team in the 10th tier of English football is not really a barometer for anything but for what it’s worth, Rovers played 442 in the first half with Greeny as a deep lying playmaker. The former Rovers man looked fit and sharp as he regularly demanded the ball from his centre backs. Calder was dangerous, Copps sublime but new signings John Marquis and Tyler Garret struggled to make an impact.
  • The second half brought a raft of changes with only goalkeeper Ross Etheridge playing in both halves. New signings Matty Blair and Tommy Rowe joined a slew of YTS graduates as well as Andy Butler, Cedric Evina and Andy Williams.
  • It took Rowe just two minutes to make an impact as he slammed home from close range. Whilst Evina and Blair struggled to find the same urgency as Calder and Copps’, Rowe was excellent throughout. Our most exciting close season signing for many a year.
  • The rest of the second half passed by pretty much without incident until Andy Williams capitalized on a defensive mix up to score an easy goal. Worryingly, Williams had cut a frustrated figure until that moment and it is vital that he regains some confidence before the season starts, especially if he is going to fulfil my prediction of scoring 19 league goals!
  • A decent run out then, and the expected result, but the most resonant aspect was how much those on the pitch seemed raring to go. For a side that sleepwalked through large parts of last season, it is time for them to show the fans that they want to be League 1 footballers. Roll on August 6th.

Doncaster Rovers vs Crewe Alexandra – Report

The fat lady finally sings. A fitting end to a wretched season…

  • The starting line up yielded no surprises and whilst it is of course disconcerting to see Evina and Lund operating at full back, the quality within the squad is so poor that Darren Ferguson unfortunately didn’t have much choice. It was this inherent lack of ability that would eventually cost Rovers.
  • Rovers started off brightly against a Crewe side who looked every inch like a team at the bottom of the table with nothing to play for. Alex were there for the taking and had Donny played at 20% of what they are capable of it would have been an easy victory.
  • It was no surprise then Rovers went 1-0 as Tommy Rowe slammed home from the edge of the box. Rowe was a threat every time he had the ball in the first half and combined well with both Coppinger and Williams. If only we had signed him earlier into the season.
  • Crewe responded quite well to going behind but it was still against the run of play when their farcical equalizer was poked home by Callum Ainley. Coppinger gave the ball away, Lund was out of position and Matthews should have claimed the cross but only Cedric Evina will know what he was doing trying to chest the ball down in his six yard box. Evina will be thrown under the bus for this admittedly terrible error but he has shown time and time again that he isn’t defensively good enough to play left back and should be employed further forward. The goal summed up Rovers season.
  • The worst part about Crewe’s equalizer is that it came about through a lack of technical ability. If Evina was confident in using his right foot he could have easily cleared the ball to safety. Instead he was forced to try and chest it. A league 1 footballer should be happy using both feet. No excuses.
  • If their first goal was classic Rovers than Crewe’s second goal was Rovers in exelcis. A terrible combination of Taylor-Sinclair and McCullough somehow allowed an easy finish for Marcus Haber. The amount of individual errors those two players have made this season is almost unbelievable.
  • Here are some adjectives: abysmal, embarrassing, disgraceful, woeful, shameful, heartless, dismal, clueless. Pick as many of them as you want to describe Rovers second half performance. All of them are accurate. When the fans demanded a reaction they instead got a team of disinterested players bottling it. They should all be deeply ashamed. Rovers fans sang that the players were not fit to wear the shirt. They aren’t even fit to step foot on a football pitch. With the exception of Coppinger, Butler, Rowe and begrudgingly Williams, every one of those players should be looking for a new club next season.
  • The manager of course must take a large slice of the responsibility as well and the decision to bring on Mandeville for Tyson was not just odd it was downright negligent. The fact that Rovers only decent chance of the second half fell for Mandeville was telling. The young striker opted to take the ball wide when through on goal before squaring to nobody. Not good enough.
  • Some of the players dropped to their knees at the final whistle. I’m sorry but if they cared that much Rovers would not be in this mess. The time to show emotion had long since passed. Ferguson going straight down the tunnel was also telling. He said after the game that Rovers fans should expect big changes. The first one should be a change of manager. Ferguson has failed in every single remit he was tasked with this season. The Rovers fans deserve a fresh start on their return to league 2 next season.

Winners

Crewe Alexandra – It is a sorry state of affairs when an already relegated team clearly wants it more but they really did. Credit to the Alex. They deserved it. I still can’t condone a team with nothing to play for taking the ball to the corner flag mind.

Tommy  Rowe – The only bright star in an otherwise shocking performance. The boards first priority should be trying to sign Rowe permanently in the summer.

Crewe Alexandra youth players – With kick off bizarrely delayed for 30 minutes we were treated to an on pitch performance from the Crewe youth team. It was of much better quality than the senior game that was to follow.

Losers

The Entire Rovers Squad – I hope they are really fucking hurting right now. They brought this completely on themselves.

Rovers ‘fans’ – Refused to go down with dignity with seats being ripped up and yet more pyro from the juvenile section of the crowd. We also must have the ugliest fan base in English football. Some real mutants in the away end at Gresty Road.

Darren Ferguson – If he had anything about him he would quit.

Doncaster Rovers vs Coventry City – Report

A dominant Rovers display keeps slim survival hopes alive…

  • The injury to Richard Chaplow caused an enforced line up change as Riccardo Calder was brought in. Other than that it was more of the same as ATS continued to sit out.
  • Rovers dominated the early exchanges and got the goal they deserved on 21 minutes when Gary McSheffrey’s near post corner was flicked into the net by Tommy Rowe. 1-0.
  • McSheffrey’s exemplary set pieces have made the difference in Rovers last 3 games, with 4 goals coming directly from corners. It was concerning to see the Scunthorpe loanee limp off with a jarred knee. Early reports do not sound promising. Expect to see a lot of James Coppinger’s corners hitting the first man in the final two matches.
  • Nathan Tyson replaced McSheffrey and instantly looked bright and made a nuisance of himself. It was his determination to get to the byline, as well as a pinpoint cross, that led to the second goal as Andy Williams headed home at the far post. 2-0 and cruising.
  • The expected Coventry fight back never materialized as Rovers served up what was possibly their best first half performance at home all season. It’s a shame they waited until the penultimate home game of the season to do so.
  • Rovers started the second half as brightly as they had the first and always looked the more likely to score as the Sky Blues struggled to get a foot hold in the game. Deserved man of the match Tommy Rowe dominated the midfield with Alcock and particularly Butler looking strong at the back. Butler has been magnificent in recent games and is hitting peak form at just the right time.
  • Other than a smart save low down from Remi Matthews, a disappointing Coventry side were totally overran as Rovers gave a master class in how to shut down a game. Donny had 60% possession, more shots on target and more corners in a win that never felt under threat.

Winners

Tommy Rowe – Assured in possession, worked hard and took his goal brilliantly. Harry Middleton has had a decent breakthrough season for Rovers but how different things could be had we been able to call on Rowe for the entirety of the season.

Rovers defence – A first clean sheet since 23rd of January, the first win and a clean sheet since 2nd January and the first win and a clean sheet at home since 24th of November (!). More of the same in the final two games please.

Fans of drama – Once again it appears likely that Rovers will go into the final game of the season with everything to play for. Rovers fans have had a lot to grumble about these past few years but it certainly hasn’t been boring.

Tyson/Williams – A strike partnership that looked so deadly at the turn of the year has finally been revived after months of inactivity. It is vital for Rovers survival hopes that their understanding continues into the final two games.

Losers

Richard Chaplow – Despite having a fine pedigree, this has been a poor season for Chaplow and he should be one that is moved on in what should be an inevitable summer clear out. Rovers looked a far better side with Calder in for Chaplow with the Aston Villa loanee tracking back defensively as well as causing problems going forward.

Coventry City – A limp and turgid performance from a side who still harboured hopes of reaching the play offs. One of the easiest games Rovers have enjoyed all season.

Sportsmanship – Whilst it was generally agreed that allowing Bury to equalize on the opening day of the season was the correct course of action, how we could desperately use those 2 dropped points now. If Rovers do go down by a margin of 2 points or less, they will basically have been punished for adhering to fair play. After the farce of the abandoned game at Charlton during our last relegation, this would be particularly galling.

Doncaster Rovers vs Chesterfield – Match Report

A fighting performance is not enough for struggling Rovers…

  • Darren Ferguson’s starting line-up was both expected and correct with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair finally dropped for Cedric Evina. Whilst Evina didn’t cover himself in glory, particularly in the first half, the defence in general was much more solid without ATS in it.
  • Rovers scored twice from set pieces against Wigan last week and it took just six minutes for the same to happen again on Tuesday night. Gary McSheffrey’s excellent corner was tapped in by a totally unmarked Tommy Rowe at the back post. 1-0.
  • Donny’s lead didn’t last long however and just 12 minutes later the Spireites were level. Tommy Rowe gave too much time to Jay O’ Shea, Remi Matthews could only parry the resulting shot and Mitchell Lund was nowhere near Gboly Ariyibi as the American winger slotted home. It was yet another soft and preventable goal, in a season that has been littered with them.
  • Chesterfield perhaps had the better of the first half with Evina consistently isolated and outnumbered and Andy Williams ploughing a lone furrow up front. The latter had Rovers best chance of the first half but could only head wide at the back post.
  • Rovers came out stronger in the second half and eventually dominated. McCullough had been naïve in his positioning in the first half but his range and quality of passing was a joy to behold in the second, with Coppinger also causing problems.
  • Whilst there was no doubting the effort there was simply not enough creativity or guile as a Sam Hird inspired defence held firm. Chaplow in particular was guilty of being ponderous and unimaginative in position.
  • Andy Williams faded completely in the second half and perhaps should have been hauled off earlier. It was ironic then to see Curtis Main scoring for Oldham on a night when Rovers so desperately need a goal. More than anything else, allowing Jones, Wellens, Forrester and Main to leave has probably defined our season.
  • Despite constant late pressure, neither team could muster up a shot on target in a physical match that lacked quality. However, it is not 1-1 draws away at Chesterfield that will relegate Rovers but soft goals, no creativity and bad luck
  • On the subject of bad luck, Rovers had a seemingly perfectly good goal disallowed for the second time in recent weeks. When it rains, it pours.

 

Winners

Rovers fans – 905 fans for a Tuesday night at Chesterfield is excellent and the Rovers faithful were in good voice throughout. One thing we can all agree on is that as a fan base we definitely deserve better.

Andy Butler – A second successive man of the match performance from Doncaster born Andy Butler and the experienced centre back is leading from example at the back. If we do go down, Darren Ferguson’s first priority should be keeping Andy Butler.

Luke McCullough – Still needs to work on his positioning but Luke McCullough is at last justifying his place in the team. McCullough will never be as good at unlocking a defence as Welllens or Coppinger but his ball retention is much better.

Curtis Main – Oldham are safe thanks to a Curtis Main goal. The young striker has gone from zero to hero in a few short months.

Losers

Andy Williams – Rather than being buoyed by his recent goal against Wigan, Andy Williams was even more isolated and frustrated than ever. The manager must take some responsibility but Williams is talented enough to make his own chances.

Mitchell Lund – Nobody could have foreseen Lund playing as many games as he has this season. He has definitely come on leaps and bounds from the early stage of the season but the lack of competition for the right back spot has cost Rovers dearly. Lund lacked concentration defensively and was sluggish going forward against Chesterfield and he is indicative of the lack of quality inherent throughout the squad.

Remi Matthews – The options for the goalkeeper when saving a shot are hold it or parry it to safety, Matthews did neither for Chesterfield’s equalizer and Rovers were punished for it. Stuckmann has probably been our best player this season overall and Matthews has dropped more howlers than the Big German already in much fewer games. Nobody would begrudge Stuckmann a place in the starting line up for the Coventry game.

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