It is easy to be dismissive about Rovers famous invincibles preseason side of 2015/16, so easy in fact that I have just done it, but do you know what? Beating a full strength Sunderland side 2-0 is a fucking great result and one that the players should be proud of.
Sunderland arrived at the Keepmoat with nearly 3000 screaming Mackems at their back and left with their tails between their chunky legs as goals from Cedric Evina and Harold (I’m trying to rebrand him as a new, more mature footballer this season) Forrester put the Black Cats down like a stray bullet from an American dentist.
Following the news that another experienced and established lower league player has signed in the shape of Danny N’Guessan there are a lot of reasons to be confident going into the new season, something which has been blatantly missing from the last two disappointing campaigns.
Forrester’s goal against Sunderland was a timely reminder that he has the potential to be one of the best players in league 1 next season and if Cedric Evina can convincingly volley home a flowing move than literally anything is possible.
It is with this positivity in mind that Rovers welcomed Wolves to the Keepmoat for their final pre season game of the Summer. Wolves have had a quiet summer transfer wise so far with only three players coming in with the aim seemingly to move some of the high profile big earners off the pay role with Kevin Doyle, Tomasz Kuszczak and Sam Ricketts all departing. Still at the club however is former Rover Carl Ikeme who started in Wolves recent 2-2 stalemate with Aston Villa.
Rovers played some nice stuff against Wolves but conceding three goals from corners is massively worrying with imposing figures like Butler, Jones and Stuckmann at the back. On a more positive note Forrester and Wellens looked lively and Stuckmann impressed. Elsewhere this game should be evidence enough that Andy Williams should not be playing up front on his own and we still desperately need a first choice right back. Mitchell Lund has done very well under difficult circumstances but he is not ready to be the only right back at league one club with genuine promotion aspirations.
Further cause for optimism is the continued success of the Black Bank project that has captured the imagination of many in the South Stand. Those of us that are old enough to remember, often speak of how much we miss the unforgettable atmosphere that was present at Belle Vue and while it is perhaps unrealistic to hope of a return to that, it is very encouraging to see something being done to improve the lack of noise at the Keepmoat.
So a few decent signings, a more vocal crowd and coming off the back of a fantastic win against premier league opposition. Start of the season optimism ay? Nothing quite like it!