It always feels a little anticlimactic for the first home game to be a cup game but Nottingham Forest is a local derby of sorts so there should at least be a decent attendance and atmosphere.
Rovers have met Forest in the league cup before of course, most famously resulting in an 8-0 defeat at Belle Vue. Rovers will be hoping for a more respectable result this time round but will need to pick themselves up after a disappointing opening day defeat at Accrington Stanley.
Forest fared better in their opening game, overcoming newly promoted Burton Albion 4-3 at the City Ground. Hoping to start against Rovers will be former Everton striker Apostolos Vellios who arrived at Forest for a fee over £1 million. Elsewhere, former Rovers centre back Matt Mills could feature, whilst ex premier league stars Henri Lansbury (Arsenal) and Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa) will also be in contention.
This game may come too early for Paul Keegan, but Harry Middleton could continue his surprise return to fitness with a starting berth. Rovers have signed 12 new players this summer so Darren Ferguson has the squad depth to rotate. The worry is that Fergie seems to want to persevere with the 5-3-2 formation that saw us relegated last season so it will be interesting to see how we turn out against Forest with the pressure slightly off.
It doesn’t seem long ago that Rovers were beating Forest with both teams in the Championship so it is a shame that such a huge gulf has opened between the two sides. A victory on Tuesday night would not close that gap but it would at least restore some much needed pride and give a glimmer of hope to a long suffering fan base.
Match Prediction: DRFC 1-3 Nottingham Forest (Williams)
Andy Williams has been well backed to score a bagful of goals this season but Forest should have too much for Rovers unless they play a bunch of kids.
Another day. Another home defeat…
Continuing the match review in it’s new format, we take a look at Tuesdays defeat to Ipswich.
- Whilst it took until extra time for Ipswich to pull clear, don’t be mistaken, this was a game dominated by the visitors. 27 shots to Rovers 15, 13 on target to Rovers 4. Only Stuckmann kept Rovers in it with a string of excellent saves, particularly in the second half.
- Dickov’s decision to pull the squad in for extra training on Sunday appeared odd at the time, it seems downright ludicrous now. Following another 120 minutes and with another three game week coming up, Rovers already stretched squad appears to be at breaking point – especially following injuries to Jones and McCullough.
- The two biggest talking points of this season were both addressed. One by Dickov and one by accident. Dickov finally paired Andy Williams up front with another striker and the reward was a much improved display from the former Swindon man. The second issue constantly raised by the Rovers faithful is the need for a specialist right back. That it has taken an injury for McCullough for Lund get on the pitch this season seems bizarre and he instantly looked more assured than his out of position team mate. He may not be a long term answer but Lund to start against Fleetwood.
- Another who should definitely start on Saturday is Curtis Main who was bright throughout and caused problems for the Ipswich defence. Main has the potential to be the next Dean Windass, he is strong, good on the ball and has a formidable shot. This season has to be the year he turns potential into ability.
- A quick word on the attendance. 3729 is an utter shambles and is possibly the biggest indicator yet of how much the Rovers fans have lost faith in Dickov. It is difficult to blame them after yet another bleak home performance.
Andy Williams – Topping the winners list this week is Andy Williams after an exquisite headed goal to put Rovers ahead. The important thing about this goal is that no other current Rovers player is capable of scoring it thus proving Williams’ potential influence on the coming season.
Cedric Evina –Evina’s positional switch further up the field has been a rare success story for Dickov this season and his glorious assist for the first goal was one of the highlights of Evina’s Rovers career so far. That it was followed by a poor second half performance after he was dropped back to left back only strengthens his new found role as a winger
Rovers youth set up – While the inexperience of the Rovers side probably led to the scoreline of 1-4 it was encouraging to see Lund, Middleton and Whitehouse on the pitch for the first time. Despite being the most unsung of the three Lund has actually been the most consistent in a Rovers shirt so far and looks to be a prospect. Middleton was unlucky to come on just as Rovers capitulated and Whitehouse looked like an actual footballer for the first time rather than a competition winner.
The Rovers old guard – Coppinger and Wellens are in a position where no matter how bad they perform they know they are going to play every minute of every game. Coppinger you suspect is going through a bad spell rather than a full decline but Wellens looks to be completely disinterested unless an opportunity for personal glory presents itself. Rovers badly need a couple of new faces or at the very least a fit Paul Keegan.
Andy Butler – With such an inexperienced defence you expect the more senior players to step up. Butler was awful against Ipswich. He constantly gave the ball away and was out of position. Butler has been our best centre back by miles since joining last season so this needs to be a blip and not the end of the honeymoon period.
James Alabi – Celebrated in front of the Rovers fans as if he had scored a wonder goal not a three yard tap in. All he achieved was the hatred of a few thousand strangers. As bizarre as it was unnecessary and it was disappointing not to see him booked.
Man of the Match – Williams and Main both impressed but it was Stuckmann again who was our best player. Looks nailed on for player of the season at this rate.
Match Preview by Rob Johnson
Despite having a tough run of opening games and losing star player Tyrone Mings, Ipswich find themselves top of the championship having drawn at Brentford, won at home against Wednesday and Burnley and most recently beat Preston at Deepdale.
Ipswich have quality all over the pitch with Berra and Luke Chambers at the back, Cole Skuse in midfield and Sears, McGoldrick and Pitman up top. Rovers will have to be much improved to cope with such talent following two limp performances at home against Southend and away at Port Vale.
Writing these previews becomes more and more frustrating as it becomes achingly obvious that Williams can’t play up front on his own and McCullough isn’t a right back. The mix of youth and experience that Dickov so loves to champion in reality has become a mix of players out of their depth and over the hill. Rovers bench against Port Vale consisted of just three senior players – and one of those was Marko Marosi. Dickov has had the whole summer to build a squad suitable to challenge in this league but only four games in it is clear that in terms of squad depth Rovers are nowhere near equipped enough to mount anything other than another mid table finish.
Calls are growing louder for a change of manager but the Ipswich game will not decide anything with many Rovers fans expecting a defeat. Much more important for Dickov and Rovers is the home game against Fleetwood on Saturday and Dickov may consider resting a couple of players with this in mind.
Rovers fans would perhaps be happy with a fighting performance and an actual goal that isn’t a penalty or a freak accident but it is hard to expect anything other than another heavy home defeat to Ipswich.
Match Prediction – For the first time this season I can’t see past a Rovers defeat. 2-0 to Ipswich. Boos to ring out across an almost empty Keepmoat Stadium at the final whistle.