Tag Archives: Doncaster Rovers Football Club

Gillingham 1-0 Rovers: Match Review

Following a brief break from writing content Rob Johnson returns for the first DRSG match review for a Rovers away game this season:

Stray Observations

  • First the officials. Cedric Evina tumbled theatrically in the Gillingham box but there is no denying he was clearly fouled. The referee was swayed by Gillingham’s home supporters time and again and it is hard not to believe the penalty would have been given had that been one of the home players going down. Footage of the Gills ‘goal’ has proven inconclusive which suggests that the linesman couldn’t be absolutely certain the whole of the ball had crossed the whole the line from his vantage point which makes his decision to award a goal both inexplicable and incredibly harsh on Rovers.
  • Despite a lack of good fortune with the officials, this was still yet another poor performance from Rovers. Gobern and Chaplow were time and again overran in the centre of the park and Chaplow in particular gave the ball away on numerous occasions. The defence, midfield and attack had no link up play and seemed to be playing as three separate units. The Gillingham goal was fortunate but inevitable.
  • Unfortunately Paul Dickov has made so many excuses over the last two seasons that he has become the boy who cried wolf. Justified or not Rovers fans are becoming tired of Dickov’s excuses and that was expressed at the final whistle. More on that later.
  • Rovers currently have a team of journeymen, youth players, crocks and stop gaps. Can anyone really see Gobern, N’Guessan, Chaplow, Mackenzie, Main, Lund or Taylor-Sinclair becoming settled first team players to build a team around in the next few years? Will Keegan, Tyson or Rob Jones overcome their constant injury problems at the ages of 31, 33 and 35 respectively? It seems unlikely. With Copps also 34, Wellens on his way out and better clubs surely to come looking at Williams and Forrester should our form not improve before January, this already looks like a squad that needs a complete overhaul only 6 games into the season.
  • Last season Rovers actually came from behind to win on 5 separate occasions. It is troubling then that since our form collapsed in March rovers look dead and buried every time they go behind. There is a feeling that a lot of players are going through the motions. There is no desire, no team spirit and no passion.
  • That said however, 6 games is early and of course Dickov may turn it round. However he has shown in the past that when Rovers stop winning he doesn’t have an answer, with only talismanic striker Billy Sharp’s surprise return to the club temporarily stopping the rot during our relegation season. Rovers have won 4 of their last 22 in the league. This is relegation form and if we do slip into the bottom four does this squad have the talent or more importantly the fight to claw their way out while ever Dickov remains in charge?
  • We will now see how much Bramall and Watson actually care about Rovers. The fans turned on Dickov en masse at the final whistle with anti Dickov chanting that started before the final whistle reaching fever pitch with a tirade of abuse as he went down the tunnel. Rovers now have a vital home game against Oldham sandwiched by tough away games at Walsall and Sheffield United. Lose all three and Dickov will face constant abuse from the stands. It is easy to see Rovers entering into a similar situation as Newcastle and Blackburn fans found themselves in recent years, as the owners watch their side get relegated whilst stubbornly refusing to sack the manager.



Cedric EvinaTough to pick any winners following that performance but Evina was bright and confident before being withdrawn on 70 minutes despite being our best outfield player. Should have won a penalty and is currently earning his place on the team sheet further forward.

Thorsten StuckmannYet another man of the match performance from Stuckmann who is currently single handedly preventing Rovers from conceding 3 or 4 every week.


Mitchell Lund – One has to feel for Lund as it is Dickov’s fault that an actual right back has still mystifyingly not been signed. The young right back is clearly out of his depth. His first touch was awful, he turned his back on the ball and passed it back to Stuckmann or sideways to Mackenzie at every opportunity. The longer he continues to start at right back the more likely it is the opposition will target him. One of the first remits of being a manager is having at least one senior player for every position. Dickov has failed in this remit this season and Lund’s confidence has paid the price.

James Coppinger & Andy Williams – Copps is still our most creative player as shown by his glorious link up with Andy Williams for Curtis Main’s latest big chance in the first half. This was a mirror image of the second goal against Fleetwood and shows the potential of Copps and Williams in the same team. Aside from this incident however Copps was on his own as an attacking threat down the right hand side with Lund rarely venturing beyond the half way line. Time and again Copps found himself in space, only for Chaplow or Gobern to lose the ball. Williams too cut a frustrated figure who found himself isolated every time he had the ball. Williams has looked quality this season and has ran himself into the ground but how long will this continue while ever he lacks support.

Curtis Main – The unfortunate thing for young Curtis is when he gets something wrong he gets it really wrong so despite showing some neat and tidy touches and constantly getting into good positions all you remember is the woeful wayward passes and the missed chances. Main had Rovers best chance in the first half but once again it went begging. Despite his talent Main is just not good enough (yet) to be leading the line for a league one team.

Paul DickovThe crowd’s reaction at the end and constant barrage of abuse on social media can no longer be ignored. In the last few months alone Furman, Wabara and Wellens have made it clear they no longer want to play for Dickov whilst others have shown this through their performances on the pitch. Dickov has held us back the last two years but now there are worrying signs that he is actually making us worse. What possible reason could there be to stick with him now?

Man of the MatchThorsten Stuckmann. This is getting embarrassing.


Keep The Faith Part 1: Rovers 2008-09 Retold

Given the Rovers poor start to the season, Lee Croft revisits a season that lives long in the memory as one of the most enduring to enjoying seasons as Rovers experienced their first stint in the Championship since 1958. This is the 2008/09 season:

After probably one of the best hangovers experienced, the pictures online of crying Leeds fans and reliving the moments of Coppinger’s hat-trick against Southend, the pitch invasion and the Hayter header, most Rovers fans went into the season optimistic but with a sense of realism about what lied ahead.

In the transfer window we brought in Matt Mills permanently for a reported 300k (then club record), James Chambers to cover JOC and Gaz Roberts, Jos Van Niewstadt in CB, John Spicer in midfielder and Darren Byfield up front, who was Bristol City’s top goal scorer as they reached the play-off final the season previous. Despite these quality signings (Byfield apart), the team resembled pretty much the same as the season before. Jason Price’s big afro was an ever present, Gareth Taylor’s wandering strolls, Neil Sullivan’s big kicks, Gaz Roberts’ deadly left foot and the magical feet of James Coppinger.


The season started against arguably one of the toughest opponents in the league as Rovers travelled to Pride Park to play against a Derby side that had endured the most successful season in Premier League history, managing just a single win. A lot of ins and outs at Pride Park and it looked as though Derby would be looking to take out their frustration from the season previous on anyone who stood in their way. They were amongst the favourites for promotion and on the opening game of the season, Derby County vs Doncaster Rovers was the second highest attendance of the season in the Championship.

Despite some near misses from Derby, Rob Hulse going agonisingly close, Sean O’Driscoll’s men stood firm to take a 0-0 draw into half time. Somehow, against the odds, the ball trickled over the line to give the Rovers a lead with just an hour played. Lewis Guy’s shin getting the final touch from a free kick that was simple but slick enough to fool the Rams’ defence. In typical ‘pub-team’ spirit, Doncaster’s first goal in the 2nd Tier in 50 years would be scored by a player wearing a replacement shirt with no name or number. But the Rovers revolution continued and the fans would roar the team onto a historic first win at the first time of asking.

The best player to have ever trained for Rovers was at it again the following week with a fantastic finish against Cardiff at the Keepmoat. Our 100% record wasn’t to last however, as Cardiff stole a last minute equaliser with ex Rovers loanee McCormack providing the bluebirds with the goal.

The next week however we we’re brought back to a crushing reality as we hardly got a look in at Loftus Road and QPR romped to a 2-0 win. However a 30 yard screamer from Richie Wellens at the Keepmoat against Coventry 7 days later would be enough to give Sean O’Driscoll 2 wins and 7 points from the opening 4 games. A solid return and a good foundation to start life in the Championship as we headed into our first ‘international break’, another benefit of being a second tier club.


The return from the break however, would be where things would go tits up. At Birmingham City away, the Rovers were gifted a golden opportunity as a nasty challenge from Blues man Mehdi Nafti saw the Brum reduced to 10 men. But with Maik Taylor in the sticks, it would be hard to break the deadlock. Wellens tried his best to lob Taylor from 40 yards but it wouldn’t creep in. After 3 penalty claims, 1 from Hayter and a couple from Guy (surprise!) the referee was not gifting the Rovers anything else and half time came with the tie deadlocked.

However 35 seconds into the second half, Jerome would latch onto a header from Marcus Bent to knock the ball past Sullivan in cruel fashion. The Rovers came back out but couldn’t score, Byfield coming closest after beating 3 men, he unleashed a fierce 25 yard drive at goal which was only beaten by Taylor’s outstretched fingertips which saw it cannon off the inside of the post and away. The Rovers lost, and the start on a common theme began. 3 days later, a Tuesday night home game to Charlton, resulted in a 1-0 defeat.

Old ghosts haunted Rovers next after McIndoe scored past his former club as Bristol City recorded a 4-1 win at Ashton Gate, Southampton would heap more misery after winning 2-0 at the Keepmoat, a result Sheffield United would mirror 3 days later. Bizarrely, the Rovers squandered the best chance I’ve ever seen when a Rovers corner (the score 0-1) saw Price’s header beat the keeper and fell to Byfield on the line who someone put it out for a goal kick, had he not been stood there, we would have scored! Nonetheless the losing streak had now reached 5 games, 7 points return from our opening 9 games and just 4 goals scored.


With many fans not really happy with the disposal of Dave Penney, it will come as no great shock to hear that many were turning on Sean O’Driscoll at this point. We we’re playing great football, but despite this we were quickly sinking and the fans wanted change. But SOD’s persistence to keep playing the same way looked to have done the job at Oakwell as Rovers lead 1-0 thanks to a Stock penalty and after Darren Moore saw red the Rovers looked to be taking all the points. Against all the odds however, the Tykes with 10 men mounted a surreal comeback and wonder goals from Iain Hume (remember him?) and Jamal Campbell-Ryce would see an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to our local rivals who only had 10 men.

The losing streak did end however, after a drab 0-0 against Blackpool, Rovers probably carved the best chances but it was typical of what had followed the previous 5 games, and had Blackpool been a little more clinical they probably would have won. The result saw the Rovers slip further adrift of safety.

The next 3 games would be nothing short of cruel. Jos Van Neiwstadt thought he did enough to earn a point at promotion favourites Reading, only to see a late winner for the Royals. Away a Carrow Road against Norwich, a team with aspirations for promotion would be an entertaining game which saw a Brian Stock penalty ten minutes from time looked likely to finally give us 3 points and end the run after 8 games without a win. Sadly however the script was written differently. A late equaliser and an injury time winner from Leroy Lita broke the Rovers hearts.

The month ended the same way it started, a game vs our neighbours Barnsley and a chance at redemption. Nothing would have been sweeter than ending our winless run against the inbreds, but instead the Rovers failed to score again at home and a solitary goal from Barnsley ended any chances of finishing October on a high.

With 14 games gone the Rovers were now occupying the relegation zones with just 8 points. The pressure was mounting on Sean O’Driscoll and the final whistle at home games were met with boos from our fans. Throughout the game many would stand and shout at the manager to make a change, or “GERRIT FORWARD!”. We were sinking without trace and looked like it was going to be a long enduring season for the Rovers faithful.

Part 2 to follow in the week ahead.

ROVERS VS SUNDERLAND: Match Preview by Rob Johnson

Rovers fan and DRSG Committee member Rob Johnson returns to write for the DRSG again with another Match Preview:

After the testimonial for one of our most exciting players ended 0-0, Rovers welcome another team from the North East for their penultimate friendly match of the season hoping for a bit more action.

Sunderland welcome new signings Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates to the starting line up, continuing the proud tradition of defenders that are not quite good enough for the top four joining the black cats to further complete the downward trajectory of their career. Coates always looks like he has just woken up with his scruffy beard and long hair… His Sunderland compatriot Adam Johnson is no stranger to grooming however with his more sensible short back and sides.

For Rovers this is a chance for some of the younger players in the squad to continue their development with Harry Middleton one of many to impress so far. The Sunderland game also gives Andy Williams the opportunity to shrug off the embarrassment of being subbed off for Cedric Evina in his previous outing, an ignominy that no man should suffer.

As well as established Premier league stars like Jermaine Defoe and Wes Brown there will be other familiar faces to Rovers fans with Conor Wickham likely to feature. Wickham famously scored a hat trick in Ipswich’s 6-0 win at the Keepmoat Stadium in what is widely considered to be one of our worst home performances of recent years. Rovers defence that day contained defenders such as James O’Connor and George Friend. On Wednesday we are likely to have Mitchell Lund and Luke McCullough in the starting XI… good luck lads!

Match prediction: 3-1 to Sunderland
We have showed good resilience to stay unbeaten so far but Sunderland will have too much class for us. Williams to score our consolation.

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