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.
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.
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.
It’s a swift chance to bounce back as Rovers face their second tough test in a matter of days…
Despite sitting pretty at the top of League Two after half an hour on Saturday, a 1-0 lead that should have been higher was turned around by hosts Luton Town as the Hatters went on to a 3-1 victory to end the Reds’ latest winning run. James Coppinger netted for the third game in a row but the defence was undone too many times and our strikers failed to find their scoring boots.
This was seen as a tough fixture and rightly so as the win took Luton just ahead of us in the table and saw them join us as the division’s highest scoring team to date. Up next is a chance to put things right however as unbeaten Carlisle United come south to the Keepmoat Stadium.
Discounting an epic penalty shoot-out defeat to Derby in the EFL Cup, Carlisle have not tasted defeat since the end of April and will be a formidable opponent. They are one of only two teams to knock off leaders Plymouth so far this term and sit just one point and two places behind us in the standings.
Keith Curle’s side look a dark horse for promotion contention and boast a wealth of talent for this level, conceding just nine goals so far thanks to Mark Gillespie in goal and a defence boasting three ever-presents including veteran Danny Grainger. Our record against the Cumbrians is hit-and-miss but our last meeting at this level was a memorable one, Rovers lifting the Division 3 title at Belle Vue in the closer of the 2003/04 season.
The big question going into the game is which formation Fergie will deploy, reverting to his favoured 3-5-2 in a failed attempt to bring the game back in our favour. If Mathieu Baudry is fit enough to make his full debut, put your money on three at the back. Questions must also be asked of Cedric Evina’s place in the side with Tyler Garratt now fit again after a shoddy display from the Cameroonian at Kenilworth Road.
One to Watch
Charlie Wyke is Carlisle’s main goal threat, picking up where he left off last season netting four goals in eleven games for our visitors. He is ably assisted by the likes of Shaun Miller, who scored the winner against Wycombe on Saturday, Jabo Ibehre and Reggie Lambe, but it is Wyke who so often steals the headlines.
Tuesday evening could see a full debut for highly rated centre half Mathieu Baudry, who appeared off the bench against Luton as Fergie tested the 3-5-2, a formation Baudry was signed to play in. If he starts it’ll mean a change in shape for the Reds, but will the Frenchman be sharp enough at present to make the impact we need him to?
Adam Stubbings was at the Keepmoat yesterday to report for the DRSG as Rovers welcomed Newport County:
Our good run continues as Coppinger steals the show again…
- It is hard not to turn your eye to the record-breaker every time Rovers step out onto the pitch at the moment. This remarkable start to the season shows no sign of slowing down for James Coppinger, and he marked another big occasion with yet another Man of the Match display.
- Since switching to the 4-1-3-2 formation, Coppinger has been the beating heart of Darren Ferguson’s fluid attacking verve. The 35-year-old again asserted his superior quality on opponents Newport, capping it off with a 17th minute direct free kick harking back to glory days of the past.
- Rovers kept up their early season style by dominating possession in the first half, but a rather disjointed showing meant it remained only 1-0 at the break. The visitors could have found a way back into the game most notably when Jon Parkin faced an open goal after a defensive error only to scuff well wide under little pressure.
- Goalkeeper Marko Marosi took a big knock early on but recovered to put in a superb display, showing immediately that he was unafraid to get stuck back in by rushing out to claim a couple of 50/50 challenges in his area against Newport forwards.
- Fergie’s boys may not have improved too much in the second half but they got the job done, Andy Williams atoning for an earlier miss by making the points secure just before the hour mark. Williams finished smartly for his fifth goal of the season after being teed up by Tommy Rowe after the midfielder had showed great tenacity to chase down a defensive clearance.
- Ryan Jackson replaced the ineffectual Parkin before the former Rovers forward could get himself a second booking for persistent fouling, adding much needed pace to the Newport front line that caused us some problems but the back line held firm and secured a clean sheet.
- Marosi must be credited with a huge influence on that outcome too, springing to two excellent diving saves in the second half to keep the away side out. The young Slovakian seems to be improving game on game and has made the #1 shirt his own – today has to go down as one of his best performances to date.
- Centre forward John Marquis ran Coppinger close for the MOTM award with a display a bullish greyhound would be proud of. Marquis was everywhere again, demonstrated excellent hold up play and should have won Rovers at least one penalty in the second half.
James Coppinger – The club legend put his skilful stamp on this match early on, notching a superb free kick that has to go down among his finest strikes for Rovers. With another award handed to him before kick-off, Copps showed again that he is the man for the big occasion.
Marko Marosi – After taking a knock that nearly ended his day early, Marosi went on to earn a well-deserved clean sheet making several good saves in both halves, and also showed mental fortitude by getting stuck in to challenges despite the injury.
Rovers fans – Credit has to go to all involved in pulling off the confetti display after 26 minutes to pay tribute to James Coppinger. The array of colours exploding out of the Black Bank is another triumph for the upstart fan movement since its introduction last year.
Jon Parkin – ‘The Beast’ he may be, but on his return to the Keepmoat it was a day to forget for the veteran striker. He missed an absolute sitter in the first half, earned a deserved booking and was then hauled off just past the hour mark after an impotent display.
David Webb – The referee had a pretty decent game for 65 minutes or so, but after his linesman let him down on a blatant penalty call on John Marquis, the official then rushed forth to brandish a yellow card when Marquis was clipped in the box again, leading to an alarming spell in which Newport’s players tried in vain to wind the striker up again. Instead all they got for it was a succession of yellow cards as Marquis kept his cool and avoided serious injury.
The DRSG sends special thanks to Adam Stubbings for this report and Lizzie Robinson 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!
Doncaster Rovers vs. Newport County: Match Preview
After Saturday’s uplifting victory by the seaside, it is seemingly impossible for a Rovers fan to not look forward to our next game…
With arguably the best performance since Darren Ferguson came to the club against Morecambe, the Rovers players surely must be on a high – especially considering that no one was added to the ever-growing injury list. Hopefully, Fergie’s men will be able to build on a stellar performance, maintain their winning mentality and manage to recreate something similar. With players like Coppinger, Marquis and Blair on sublime form this seems exceedingly likely.
On the subject of injuries, Tyler Garrett finally made it back onto the bench and may become closer to first team football sooner rather than later. Both Baudry and Alcock are also close to making a return, which may cause the Rovers manager to flirt with the idea of a back five featuring these newly fit players alongside Butler and Wright. Considering our current form with a back four though, such drastic changes to the personnel and formation seem highly unlikely. The only change to the starting eleven that could justifiably be made would be replacing Harry Middleton for Ricardo Calder who was particularly impressive over the weekend, even though he played on the right hand side, when he came on in the second half. Frazer Richardson may also make a return to the side, considering the knock he took at Crewe wasn’t severe, whilst players like Paul Keegan and Gary McShefferey are still very far away from fitness.
The last time we met Newport County was in 1987, where we lost 1-0 to the Welsh side. Admittedly, this means our previous form against them isn’t much to go on when it comes to predicting how the game will go. The Exiles have only won one game so far this season, leaving them in 20th in the league. Warren Feeney’s side’s last game ended in a 2-2 draw against Cheltenham, a side that sits one position above them in the table, with new signing Jon Parkin scoring two goals.
One to watch:
Newport’s aforementioned fixture against Cheltenham brings us swiftly to my ‘one to watch’ for this game: the ex-Rovers striker Jon Parkin. So far, the infamous ‘beast’ has netted three goals for the side – two of which were in Newport’s most recent fixture. Although he was desperately unlucky during his tenure for us, he has always performed well elsewhere and is part of a long line of Rovers strikers who produced nothing for us in comparison to their work at other clubs.
Cedric Evina – Although he started the season moderately well, it seems that since Crewe away the left back’s confidence has diminished, making him much weaker than he previously was at the back. The main concern with Evina in my opinion is that he is much more competent when attacking than he is in his actual role as a defender, with most attacks from the opposition coming from the left. Now Tyler Garrett is fit the Frenchman has to ensure that he is solid at the back so he doesn’t lose his place in the team full stop by being demoted to the bench.
Rovers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again…
- If I was going to summarise the entirety of the game against Crewe in one word I’d go with ‘frustrating’. However, Rovers’ performance was anything but woeful. At times, it was absolutely brilliant which made the result as disappointing as it could get. Especially considering Rovers basically dominated play for 90 minutes. It was frustrating because we were so damn good and threw it all away.
- Having said that, Rovers didn’t get off to the greatest start, it was a bit slow and lacklustre at times. We managed to have most of the possession, but struggled to really create anything. Once we got into the swing of things however, we were suddenly unplayable but seemed unable to pose any real threat of scoring.
- The first time Crewe’s strikers got into our half, they hit the back of the net. It was very disappointing that Marosi didn’t manage to save the ball, especially considering the form he has been on as of late and how impressive most of his saves are.
- Once we had conceded, we suddenly began to fully immerse ourselves in the game. Rovers’ latest signing, Frazer Richardson, was excellent in providing much needed width to the game, and he worked very well alongside Matty Blair on the right hand side of the pitch. Houghton, Coppinger and Rowe were also essential in creating chances from the remaining areas of the field.
- Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to matter how many chances were created because not one player managed to capitalise on them. Williams and Marquis missed sitter after sitter, a particular highlight being where Marquis ran half the length of the pitch before sending a beautiful cross to Williams who somehow managed to miss a goal that seemed to be set up perfectly, and was totally unmissable. The constant missing of chances from both strikers caused Rovers fans to wonder how we were ever going to equalise if we were unable to score whilst being so dominant.
- During the second half, Ferguson made one of his most bizarre double substitutions yet when he took off Wright and Richardson and replaced them with Middleton and Calder. This left Rovers with one real centre back in Andy Butler and forced Evina and Haughton to join him in the back three, which was as odd as it sounds.
- Middleton didn’t seem to make any impact during the game, but Calder was something else entirely. The guy was unplayable, beating man after man. I was truly impressed with his performance, which was on another level in comparison to his many games for us last season.
- Eventually, we equalised. Personally, I believe that the referee (who was diabolical throughout the game) began to feel sympathy for us when we missed every single attempt on goal and simply awarded the penalty because we deserved it after trying so hard. Tommy Rowe effortlessly made Rovers level at long last and the fans celebrated like it was a winning goal, mainly because most presumed we’d just miss it given our terrible luck with penalties this season.
- Despite the substitutions helping to improve our chances of scoring, the minute Crewe began to attack we totally fell apart at the back, resulting in a late winner. This was entirely down to our sudden lack of defenders and left Rovers fans disappointed. Despite the excellent attacking performance, we ended up with a loss we didn’t deserve.
Frazer Richardson: First impressions are very important in football, and he nailed his. Although he was subbed off, presumably due to fatigue after a lack of game time, he defended well and wasn’t afraid to go forward and create chances.
Ricardo Calder: I’ve already sang the Villa loanee’s praises plenty in this report, but that still doesn’t do his performance justice. He must be getting closer to a place in the starting eleven.
Tommy Rowe: Basically because he was the only player who managed to score.
Cedric Evina: Crewe seems to be a ground that never favours the French defender, who seemed nervous despite an excellent spell so far this season. Last season he made a shambolic error that was a huge factor contributing towards our relegation, and it definitely hindered his performance on Saturday. The Crewe management noticed this and swapped the pacy Kiwomya to the right wing to fully expose his weaknesses, and boy did he run rings around him.
The front two: Both of them failed to score on numerous occasions, despite being fed constant chances. Both of them have scored a decent number of goals this season so far, and they need to ensure that they don’t get out of the goalscoring habit.
The referee: Despite him being a very experienced premier league referee, he was unbelievably biased towards Crewe (if you don’t take the sympathy penalty into account). The situation with Marquis’ head injury in the first half exemplified this, where he awarded the striker with a booking for re-entering the pitch after receiving treatment – only to realise that he had already been allowed back on by the fourth official.