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?
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.
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.
Luton Town 3 – 1 Doncaster Rovers: Match report by Lizzie Robinson
The game against Luton was bound to be our first real test of the season, unfortunately we failed it miserably…
Fresh off the back of two excellent victories over Morecambe and Newport, Rovers seemed to be indestructible. The only change Darren Ferguson made to the side was bringing in newly fit right back Frazer Richardson for Harry Middleton. This allowed Matty Blair to take a more attacking role in the side, so he was no longer playing out of position.
The Rovers side started in impeccable fashion. After five minutes we genuinely could have been 3-0 up, with both Williams and Marquis failing to put away absolute sitters and a goal disallowed for being offside. Matty Blair playing on the right hand side was absolutely key, with the width he was providing allowing us to go past the diamond in Luton’s midfield with ease, creating chance after chance.
So far this season, Doncaster Rovers have scored in every single competitive game and this hasn’t changed despite our loss. Joint top goal scorer James Coppinger slotted in his 5th goal of the season, putting the visiting side deservedly in front. After this goal, however, everything changed.
During the goalmouth scramble before Coppinger scored, Luton’s captain Scott Cuthbert got seriously injured in the six-yard box. The huge amount of time taken to treat and remove the centre back from the field completely destroyed all momentum Rovers had, and was certainly the turning point of the game.
Luton began to go on the attack, fuelled by their captain’s horrible looking injury and determined to make up for his absence. Their first shot on target all game went in due to some sloppy defending and some very evident mental fragility that had arisen after the considerable break in play. Luton’s second goal was very similar, with Marriott seamlessly sliding the ball under Marko Marosi, securing a lead before the break.
Rovers came out from half time with very little improvement. The width that helped us to create chance after chance in the first twenty minutes had totally disappeared along with any momentum we’d previously had. The midfield line-up of Rowe, Haughton and later Middleton, when he was substituted on for a presumably injured Richardson, failed to create anything in the middle of the park either, with Copps beginning to disappear into nothingness. It felt like it was only a matter of time until Luton scored a third and eventually they did.
There has been some debate as to whether Joe Wright’s challenge was actually inside the box or not, it was so close that it’s basically impossible to tell. Either way, it was the final nail in the coffin and cemented defeat to the Hatters when McGeehan’s penalty hit the roof of the net in spectacular fashion.
- Luton Town FC – After two successive defeats to teams lower than them in the league, Luton managed to bounce back and perform brilliantly to defeat us, capitalising on our sudden lack of momentum after the break in play.
- James Coppinger – The guy just keeps on scoring, although his performance was far from his best today.
- The travelling fans – Despite our players failing to turn up today, the Rovers fans did in droves. A 260 mile round trip takes a huge amount of commitment, which should really be applauded considering the sheer numbers that made it to the game and had to endure such a frustrating loss.
- The Rovers defence – I certainly hoped that our back four, which has been pretty solid as of late, would make Luton’s front two Hylton and Marriott look more like a Travelodge and a Ibis Budget, but this was definitely not the case. The first two goals were sloppily conceded and it was disappointing to see a back four that was so strong a week ago, look so out of their depth. Even the addition of newly fit Baudry didn’t help matters in the way most people expected.
- Tommy Rowe – It pains me to say this, but I kept forgetting the signing of the Summer was on the pitch. He didn’t create chances the way he usually does and didn’t impress at all. One can only hope that this is merely a blip and his performances will go back to normal sooner rather than later.
- Darren Ferguson – I’m NOT saying this result was Fergie’s fault. Far from it. I’m very much in support of the Scotsman at the helm of the team. Our form under him so far this season has been pretty spectacular and the way we played in the first twenty minutes of the game showcased this yet again. However, there is no denying that he has a huge task on his hands to ensure we bounce back against an undefeated Carlisle on Tuesday and get this run of form back on track sooner rather than later.
The DRSG sends special thanks to Lizzie Robinson for this report and Adam Stubbings who wrote the preview. The DRSG website is an open platform not afraid to publish the views of any Rovers fan however extreme. If you want your content to be made available to our audience then please do not hesitate to contact us!
Unlike the embarrassing 337 who couldn’t help themselves and don’t have the capacity understand the nature and relevance of a boycott, we didn’t attend. Because of this, and in tribute to all of our shit cunt supporters the match report will instead feature a list of our top 10 worst chants ever heard at rovers:
In no particular order heres our cringe-worthiest verses ever sung on the terraces:
1.) We’re proud of you,
we’re proud of you,
we’re proud of you,
(Sung after losing or being knocked out of tournaments)
2.) We don’t care about Rotherham,
we don’t care about Leeds,
all we care about,
3.) O’Driscoll says,
we’re bouncing round the ground,
bouncing round the ground,
bouncing round the ground.
(He never, ever said that. Nor condoned that behaviour i’d imagine)
4.) Easy, Easy, Easy, Easy.
(Sung after scoring, courtesy of the worst type of LAD culture)
5.) I am a Yorkshire man,
I am a Rovers fan,
Don’t know what i want but i know how to get it,
*muffled misplaced lyric*
Cos iiiii wanna beeeee,
(To the tune of Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols)
6.) Woke up this morning feeling fine,
got Donny Rovers on my mind,
we play football the way, the way it should
Something tells me we’re into something good
(To the tune of I’m into something good by Herman’s Hermits)
7.) Who needs Mourinho,
We’ve got Dave Pe-enney
8.) Fergie had a dream,
To build a football team,
He had no players so he had to sign them on loan,
We play from the back,
With Marquis in attack,
We’re Donny Rovers,
We’re on our way back,
De, de,, de, de, de, de…
9.) Is this the way to hammer Villa,
Every night I’ve been hugging my pillow,
Dreaming dreams of Donny Rovers,
And the goals they score for me,
We showed you how to hammer Villa,
O’Leary’s weeping like a willow,
Cyring over ref’s decisions,
And the Rovers’ victory,
Sha la la la la la la la – Rovers.
(Tin pot as fuck)
10.) Billy Billy Whitehouse,
Is better than Ronaldo,
Cos we saaaaid so,
Cos we saaaaaid so.
(To the tune of Cum on Feel the Noise by Quiet Riot. It literally doesn’t get any worse than this)
Style and finesse wins out over brute force and thuggery as Rovers see off Yeovil comfortably on a rainy afternoon at Lakeside…
Andy Williams netted a richly deserved hat trick in the 4-1 win, striking home before half the crowd had reached their seats to give us a first minute lead. This was exactly what our talismanic striker needed – a confidence boost that he took on throughout the rest of the afternoon in a perfect performance.
If not for those two late goals, the Man of the Match award had to be heading to the captain again. James Coppinger pulled the strings across the attacking line all game, demonstrating his undoubted class and netting a crisp finish to take us two up before teeing up Williams for the third to put the game to bed.
Our visitors Yeovil Town got exactly what they deserved, the game unravelling after a 76th minute red card for Bevis Mugabi. The Glovers’ came to smash us off the park and it worked for a time, but in the end our superior footballing ability won out and we were able to comfortably see out the game against ten men.
Despite the scoreline, things were not plain sailing. Tom Eaves squandered two excellent chances before a moment of madness from emergency right back Matty Blair cost Marko Marosi a deserved clean sheet, and within minutes of Ryan Hedges’ halving the deficit from Blair’s mistimed back header, débutant sub Izale McLeod fired wide when he should’ve done a lot better.
On top of Yeovil’s brutish tactics, Rovers also had to contend with atrocious officiating from both the referee and his assistants, Martin Salisbury unable to keep a lid on the tension and proving utterly incapable of applying any kind of consistency to his decisions. Coppinger and John Marquis in particular were nobbled again and again without Salisbury batting an eyelash, whilst his assistants failed to grasp the basic rules of offside and the ball going out of play.
Two players ended the day in hospital, including Mitchell Lund who went off with a potentially serious rib injury. It is to the team’s credit that we have now won three on the trot and sit third in the table despite a swathe of injuries, and reinforcements may need to be brought in ahead of Wednesday’s loan deadline.
One thing we have cracked over the summer is set pieces. The opener came from another well worked Coppinger corner, and Rovers always looked threatening from the dead ball. In addition, crosses provided the assist on all three of the other goals, proving that creating chances and exploiting our width to good effect is no longer a problem.
Andy Williams: The ultimate confidence man turned in a flawless performance, showing exactly why he is our first choice striker with a well taken hat trick. On top of that, he worked hard all day harrying the Yeovil defence, scaring the keeper and always making himself available to carve out a chance at goal.
James Coppinger: Another vintage Copps display, the puppet master in the middle of the park. He got on the scoresheet, made an assist and his set piece delivery was as good as it’s ever been too. He also chased down every ball and wasn’t afraid to get into the thick of it against a set of brutes, even earning a slightly unjust yellow card for a scuffle in the second half.
Darren Ferguson: Stuck to his guns and played football the right way, ultimately paying dividends against easily one of the most physical sides ever to come to the Keepmoat. Fergie should be commended for getting us on this winning run in the face of so many setbacks, and it’s nice to see a manager always on the edge of his technical area shouting instructions to his players.
Bevis Mugabi: The young centre back summed up his team’s performance when he was sent off for a second bookable offence. Mugabi favoured sheer brutality in his dealings with our strikers all afternoon, and it’s a shame to see a team who once played proper football kicking superior sides off the park in back end of League Two.
Martin Salisbury: The referee was nothing short of a disgrace, and if he’s officiating in the EFL next weekend then there is no hope. He got so many decisions wrong, alongside his hapless assistants, and a red card was not at all a surprise to see owing to Salisbury’s complete and total inability to control the game.
Joe Wright: One man whose performance stood out for the wrong reasons in Rovers colours was centre back Wright. The youngster is still learning his craft but had a bad afternoon here, struggling to clear simple balls away, being physically outmatched constantly despite his height and getting caught chasing shadows far too often.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.