Can Stoke do it on a cold, wet afternoon in Doncaster? Yes it turns out, but only just…
• Rovers fans awaited the line ups with more interest than usual in the run up to the third round FA cup tie against Stoke City. Would Ferguson play one up front or two? Keegan or Middleton? McCullough or Lund? And in terms of the visitors, how many of their magic front four would play? How seriously would Mark Hughes take it?
• Such is the embarrassment of riches at Stoke that even without Affelay, Bojan, Arnautovic and Shaqiri they were still able to include Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Charlie Adam among others. Crouch and Adam alone have commanded over £50m in transfer fees, a phenomenal figure when taking into account Rovers much more modest transfer outlay.
• Despite the huge gulf in class on paper, Rovers started brightly and looked fairly comfortable until Aaron Taylor-Sinclair failed miserably to deal with Joselu on the right wing and his cross found Peter Crouch in the middle. 1-0.
• Rovers once again showcased their new found resilience and McCullough’s superb run and pass allowed Tyson to sweep home at the second attempt. Luke McCullough has been a near constant source of irritation and disappointment during his time at Rovers so it was bizarre to see him strolling past premier league players at ease. More of the same in the future please.
• Rovers had Stoke rattled after the goal with Williams displaying some nice touches and Keegan bossing a midfield he had no right bossing. Stoke manager Mark Hughes looked noticeably worried, although years of managing in the premier league have left the former Manchester United striker with a constant look of forlorn horror. There is a phenomenon amongst premier league managers to turn into old women the longer they continue at the top level. Stick a hairnet on Mark Hughes and put him in a bingo hall and he wouldn’t look at all out of place…
• Rovers continued where they had left off in the second half and looked fairly comfortable until Stuckmann’s moment of utter madness. To pass the ball straight to the opposition is unforgivable and whilst Walters finish was truly top class, the whole situation should and could have been avoided.
• It would have been easy for Rovers heads to drop after going behind but instead the reds best spell of the game followed with Andy Butler hitting the bar and heading over from close range and Nathan Tyson (baby) failing to turn home albeit from a difficult angle. Whilst a Charlie Adam inspired Stoke were impressive in the second half, even the most ardent Potter wouldn’t have begrudged Rovers an equalizer. I believe the correct parlance is ‘a proper cup tie’.
• It is not often that a club can take so many positives from a defeat and the fact that the Rovers players looked visibly gutted at the final whistle was an indication of just how close Donny came to forcing a replay. Rovers have come a long way since Darren Fergusons arrival and it is difficult not to be excited about the future. Rovers have already travelled to every team in the top 8 of league 1 and with 3 of our next 4 games at home there are plenty of reasons for optimism amongst the Keepmoat faithful
Paul Keegan – Fringe player to undroppable in a few short games. Keegan was immense against the Potters and should be proud of a battling and physical display against the masters of the dark arts. If he stays fit Keegan will play a vital part in the rest of the season.
Richard Chaplow – Could have had two assists on another day with Andy Butler squandering both of Chaplow’s pin point crosses. If Rovers are to genuinely push for a play off place this season then it is vital that the squad players play a part.
The Black Bank – It easy to forget after yet another unmitigated success that there were many who questioned the merits of an unreserved seating section at the start of the season. Following the successful tifo display and another 90 minutes of near constant noise, those doubters have emphatically been silenced. Rovers now have a fan movement to be proud of. Who would ever have seen that coming a year ago?
James Coppinger – An ankle injury kept Copps out of the squad which is a shame for a player who thrives on big games. The concern for Copps will be the performances of Grant, Middleton and Keegan respectively who were all excellent. No doubt Copps will walk back into the team when fit but a strong midfield showing against a premier league club will have made uncomfortable viewing for Coppinger.
Thorsten Stuckmann – Stuckmann has been our man of the match time and time again this season so nobody would begrudge him the occasional mistake. It’s just unfortunate it came in such a significant game. More worrying is the fact that the Big *CENSORED* German’s distribution is often poor. The obvious answer to such a charge however is that if Stuckmann’s passing was as good as his shot stopping and commanding of his area then he would be playing at a lot higher level than league 1.
Man of the Match – Paul Keegan
Keegs just edges out Andy Williams with a commanding midfield performance. It was a hugely successful day for the stand in (future?) skipper.
Perhaps the best way to indicate the huge gulf in class between Rovers and their opponents on Saturday, is to consider that while the South Yorkshire club were succumbing to a disappointing Boxing Day defeat to Scunthorpe United, The Potters were defeating Manchester United 2-0.
Stoke City have also claimed high profile scalps in the shape of Chelsea and Man City in recent weeks although defeats to Liverpool and West Brom in their last two games may have dampened their mood somewhat. Despite Mark Hughes plans to rotate his squad for this game, there will still be an embarrassment of riches for the Welshman to choose from with Charlie Adam, Peter Crouch and Jon Walters likely to return from the bench and at least two of Stoke’s quite honestly, frightening front four of Affelay, Bojan, Arnautovic, and Shaqiri all likely to feature.
Rovers have not played Stoke City since 1960 which partly explains the huge clamour for tickets which has resulted in the South Stand being completely sold out as well as most of the rest of the ground. This promises to be the biggest crowd at a Rovers home game for some years. The stage is set for a goosebump inducing turn from the Black Bank who in many ways are entitled to see this game as a culmination of all their hard work.
Stoke City currently have their best squad since the days of Stanley Matthews so this will be an incredibly tough test for Rovers. As we know from Bradford City’s recent cup exploits though not everything is cut and dry in football and if Rovers can get an early goal and continue to threaten on the counter then a shock could potentially be on the cards.
Match Prediction DRFC 1-3 Stoke City (Tyson)
As much as the glorious league cup run of 2005 is still fresh in the memory, even more fresh are 5-1 and 4-0 humblings against Spurs and Bolton respectively in cup competition. It is hard to image that an incredibly strong Stoke side should have much of a problem at the Keepmoat Stadium but I sincerely hope that I am wrong!
We’re very pleased to announce that, following consultation with the DRSG and other supports groups, the club have set excellent value ticket prices, ranging from £1 to £15.
The full ticket prices for all categories are :
- Adult £15.00
- Seniors £10.00
- 17-21 £8.00
- 12-16 £5.00
- 11 and under £1.00
The match will be played at the Keepmoat on Saturday the 9th of January 2016 kicking off at 3pm.
We’d like to commend the club for listening to the fans and setting these fantastic value prices for what is a very good fixture. This is an incredibly good value way to see some amazing players such as Tyson, Williams and Evina, we’re even told that Stoke have a couple of players worth watching.
Now it falls to us to absolutely pack out the ground and cheer the lads on to the next round. This is also a very good opportunity for us to demonstrate that, given the right ticket prices, we can fill the stadium and will certainly be a point of discussion between the supporters group and the club when ticket prices are being set for next season.
Tickets go on sale on Monday for season ticket holders and Alliance members. Supporters with a ticket for the Scunthorpe home game can buy from 21st December, with general sale commencing on 28th December.
What could have been a potential banana skin ended as a little more than a glorified training session. Rob Johnson dissects Rovers second consecutive home victory:
- Well that was easy! From the moment Tyson’s brilliant run and cross was fired home by Andy Williams to the final whistle, Rovers were in complete control. No goals conceded from set pieces. No injuries. The closest Rovers came to an uncomfortable moment was when a Stalybridge fan exposed his magnificent Northern arse cheeks to the cold November air.
- Having said that this should have been a walk in the park considering that Ferguson undoubtedly picked his strongest side with Mattioni coming in for Cameron Stewart as the only change from Saturdays victory over Colchester. The first XI stepped up to the challenge accordingly and swept Stalybridge away.
- Front to back this was a strong performance from Rovers with Stuckmann having little to do but looking convincing when Stalybridge did trouble the reds, particularly a close range header in the second half. The back four were once again composed and solid since the switch to 5-3-2 and Middleton and Grant made for a hard working engine room which again gave Coppinger, Tyson, Evina and Williams a platform to build from.
- Coppinger actually didn’t do a great deal but he showed glimpses of what has kept him in the first XI for 12 years and based on his improvement in the last few games he is once again being picked on talent and merit rather than reputation. The roar and standing ovation during the 26th minute were a testament to everything Copps has achieved at Rovers. Two stadiums, four promotions, numerous players and managers and 469 appearances. As I said when writing about Colin Cramb, the word legend is thrown around a lot these days, particularly in football, but in the case of James Coppinger it is the only word to describe what he means to the club and to the fans.
- What was promising was the link up play between Copps and Mattioni. Copps has played in front of some absolute dross in the last few years and he thrived from having someone on his wavelength overlapping and linking up. Mattioni was a revelation. Quick, skillful, positive, he was everything you look for in a full/wing back. I tried not to get to excited as this is only Stalybridge Celtic after all but when Mattioni beat three men and played a perfect ball to Copps in the second half I definitely felt my dick move.
Tyson & Williams – Nathan Tyson’s determined cut back and Williams composed finish are hopefully a sign of things to come this season as the partnership clicked immediately against Stalybridge. Williams continued where he left off against Colchester and he was unlucky not to get a hat trick.
Cedric Evina – From laughing stock to one of the first names on the team sheet. Nobody would begrudge Evina such a meteoric rise. His work rate and willingness to run at players was once again a joy to watch against Stalybride.
The Stalybridge fans – Decent numbers and made a fair bit of a noise. The Celtic boys put a lot of league 1 clubs to shame. Extra marks for a couple of verses of ‘We all hate Leeds scum’
Harry Forrester – It shows how influential Forrester is that I have written about him so much this season even though he has barely played. It is hard to image that he won’t go elsewhere in January and that is a shame but something must be going on to keep him so firmly on the bench.
The Rovers stewards – Don’t they know the only way to end a pitch invasion is for ten of them to jump on the offender and beat the shit out of him? Send them back to stewarding school.
Man of the Match – Could have been Mattioni, Williams, Evina or Grant but for me Harry Middleton was the best player on the pitch. A complete performance. Bad news for Richie Wellens.
By Rob Johnson
Your Grandad loves it. Compilers of grainy black and white footage of people waving scarves around love it. Most of the Premier League treats it with utter contempt. It must be the first round of the FA cup…
The FA cup, perhaps the most famous cup competition in the world, was of course founded by the Viking Supporters Co-Operative in 1871- a full 8 years before Rovers had even formed and decades before any of the founding members had been born. Bravo!
Rovers have a miserable record in the FA cup in the last 20 years having been knocked out by such giants as Stevenage Borough, Exeter City, Scarborough Athletic (RIP) and seemingly every other year, Oldham. Even taking this into account though surely there will be no giant killing at the Keepmoat stadium on Saturday. Rovers opponents Stalybridge Celtic are three tier’s below the reds in the conference North and currently find themselves mid table despite a recent 5-0 capitulation against the mighty AFC Fylde. They also have their massive upcoming clash against Northwich Manchester Villa to think about (they are an actual team).
More importantly Saturdays game marks James Coppinger’s 469th game for Doncaster Rovers. Since signing in 2004 Copps has been ever present throughout an incredibly successful time for the club and has proven to be instrumental time and time again. Copps achievements have been covered at great length elsewhere but he has always been a scorer of important goals, not a goalscorer. After the hat trick against Southend and THAT goal against Brentford though James Coppinger will forever be intrinsically linked to what has been perhaps Rovers most successful ever period.
In terms of team news, this will surely SURELY be the game where Harry Forrester actually starts. If he can’t get on the pitch against Stalybridge Celtic he might as well go and play for Northwich Manchester Villa. Also desperate for a start are Paul Keegan, who impressed when coming on against Colchester, and Dany N’Guessan, who has perhaps been unlucky to lose his place in the starting XI. Also looking to be the ten millionth right back to play behind Copps will be new loan signing Felipe Mattioni. A lot has been made of the fact that Mattioni’s last game came against Real Madrid, much to his annoyance one can only imagine. Can he do it on a cold Saturday afternoon against Stalybridge though?
Elsewhere Mitchell Lund and particularly Harry Middleton seem to be improving with each passing game so this presents a good opportunity for them to continue their development in a perhaps slightly less pressurized environment.
Match Prediction: DRFC 3-1 Stalybridge
Rovers haven’t won consecutive home games since February and they won’t get a better chance than on Saturday. Whatever the starting XI we should have more than enough firepower to see off Stalybridge. Forrester, Tyson and Copps to score.