It takes a lot to ruin at day out at the seaside for me. Amazingly, Rovers managed it.
I was in high hopes when I arrived in Blackpool on Saturday. Before the game, I was sat in a chippy attached to the Tower, looking at the Central Pier, the donkeys walking along the beach and the famous brown, murky sea when I made a very bold claim: “I think we’ll win every game this month. No doubt about it”. Our performances so far this month, although not brilliant, showed promise of great things and made picking up tough wins seem easy.
I was wrong, so very wrong. Perhaps the sea air got in my system and simply clouded my judgement, or perhaps Rovers should have won but instead completely fell to pieces. Seemingly, being in a popular holiday resort allowed Fergies’ men the perfect excuse to take a day off, get out a deck chair and not even try.
When the game started, I genuinely still thought my prediction was right. Within forty seconds Rovers had taken the lead, albeit due to an own goal from Blackpool defender Taylor deflecting the ball into the back of the net following Rovers’ first attack. Blair looked great as he ran along the right wing, Marquis managed to create chances despite being up front on his own, Baudry looked strong and comfortable in his position despite possibly lacking match fitness.
Just like riding the Pepsi Max after a few suspect pints in Blackpool, everything quickly went downhill. An absolutely pathetic excuse for a tackle from Jordan Houghton just outside the box, and a quick free-kick left our defence totally unprepared and allowed Blackpool to get even. This gave a visible life to Blackpool’s game and their ‘one to watch’ Potts managed to somehow effortlessly chip the ball over Marko Marosi, putting us behind at half time. Playing the usual role of ‘onlooker’ during both first half goals was Cedric Evina; though he did seem to take a knock just before the free kick. Nobody will ever know wether it was the ongoing effect of the knock that made his movement so static or his ongoing determination to prove he’s shit at defending.
In the second half, Blackpool started things off the way Rovers did in the first half, scoring a goal in the 47th and 48th minutes. It is impossible to tell why Rovers totally fell apart in such a horrific, disappointing and downright depressing fashion. It was one of them games where passing the ball to your own players suddenly became a foreign concept, defending seemed like the most challenging task our back line had ever seen and the Blackpool side kicked lumps out of us across the park – much to the delight of the disinterested referee it seemed.
If any fans in that away end thought things couldn’t get any worse by this point, they were sadly mistaken when one of our most impressive players this season so far, Marko Marosi, was taken off due to what looked like a very serious injury to his back or ribs and couldn’t even stand up straight as the physio helped him off the pitch. Ross Etheridge, who was obviously delighted, didn’t even look at his fellow goalkeeper as he reclaimed his place in the net.
Rovers began to pick up pace during the latter part of the second half. When Tommy Rowe scored his first penalty (and the 2nd of a depressing 6th taken by Rovers players this season), its safe to say the Rovers fans were shocked. Chants about winning 5-4 echoed around the almost empty stadium and the disbelief that we’d actually netted a spot kick on this dismal day was evident on the faces of many…
This didn’t last long when he missed his second penalty of the game, cementing defeat and ruining what could have been a lovely day out.
- Ross Etheridge: Ross has been desperate to get back into the Rovers side since he was replaced by Marosi in the EFL Cup game against Nottingham Forest. Marosi has since been an exceptional goalkeeper, making Etheridge’s first team hopes seem very slim. He must be delighted at the opportunity to once again prove himself to Fergie.
- Andy Williams: I miss him. I miss his work ethic, I miss his constant threat in front of goal, I miss his slightly poor attitude when he flails his arms about or rests them on his hips, I miss how bloody brilliant we play when he’s in the side. Please have a speedy recovery Andy, we love you.
- The trouble before half time: I disagree with fighting at football games full stop, but at least this confrontation between two Rovers fans provided some actual entertainment and excitement that was very much lacking throughout. It was like watching WWE honestly. At least it meant that certain supporters were lucky enough to miss the rest of this diabolical performance.
- Marko Marosi: I’m absolutely gutted that he’s gotten injured, especially considering the progress he’s made so far this season. In addition to this, conceding four sloppy goals allows Etheridge to further stake his claim in the first team.
- Cedric Evina: It was like he was completely non-existent in defence today. Even more so than usual. I don’t even hate Evina, at times I really value his attacking play, and with the living nightmare of ATS still fresh in my mind, we should be thankful that he is playing over him. However it baffles me that Tyler Garratt hasn’t even had a look-in when it comes to making the first team instead, given the blatant weak-spot being exposed time and time again.
- Paul Keegan: The minute we went 1-0 up, I shouted “get Keegan on” and I meant it. We needed his solidity to hang on to the win we had attained, in the way SOD used to with the lovely Mark Wilson. If he can’t get a game in fixtures like this where we desperately require solidity in midfield to support a sloppy defence, when will we ever see my favourite Irishman return again?
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.
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!
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.
Style and finesse wins out over brute force and thuggery as Rovers see off Yeovil comfortably on a rainy afternoon at Lakeside…
Andy Williams netted a richly deserved hat trick in the 4-1 win, striking home before half the crowd had reached their seats to give us a first minute lead. This was exactly what our talismanic striker needed – a confidence boost that he took on throughout the rest of the afternoon in a perfect performance.
If not for those two late goals, the Man of the Match award had to be heading to the captain again. James Coppinger pulled the strings across the attacking line all game, demonstrating his undoubted class and netting a crisp finish to take us two up before teeing up Williams for the third to put the game to bed.
Our visitors Yeovil Town got exactly what they deserved, the game unravelling after a 76th minute red card for Bevis Mugabi. The Glovers’ came to smash us off the park and it worked for a time, but in the end our superior footballing ability won out and we were able to comfortably see out the game against ten men.
Despite the scoreline, things were not plain sailing. Tom Eaves squandered two excellent chances before a moment of madness from emergency right back Matty Blair cost Marko Marosi a deserved clean sheet, and within minutes of Ryan Hedges’ halving the deficit from Blair’s mistimed back header, débutant sub Izale McLeod fired wide when he should’ve done a lot better.
On top of Yeovil’s brutish tactics, Rovers also had to contend with atrocious officiating from both the referee and his assistants, Martin Salisbury unable to keep a lid on the tension and proving utterly incapable of applying any kind of consistency to his decisions. Coppinger and John Marquis in particular were nobbled again and again without Salisbury batting an eyelash, whilst his assistants failed to grasp the basic rules of offside and the ball going out of play.
Two players ended the day in hospital, including Mitchell Lund who went off with a potentially serious rib injury. It is to the team’s credit that we have now won three on the trot and sit third in the table despite a swathe of injuries, and reinforcements may need to be brought in ahead of Wednesday’s loan deadline.
One thing we have cracked over the summer is set pieces. The opener came from another well worked Coppinger corner, and Rovers always looked threatening from the dead ball. In addition, crosses provided the assist on all three of the other goals, proving that creating chances and exploiting our width to good effect is no longer a problem.
Andy Williams: The ultimate confidence man turned in a flawless performance, showing exactly why he is our first choice striker with a well taken hat trick. On top of that, he worked hard all day harrying the Yeovil defence, scaring the keeper and always making himself available to carve out a chance at goal.
James Coppinger: Another vintage Copps display, the puppet master in the middle of the park. He got on the scoresheet, made an assist and his set piece delivery was as good as it’s ever been too. He also chased down every ball and wasn’t afraid to get into the thick of it against a set of brutes, even earning a slightly unjust yellow card for a scuffle in the second half.
Darren Ferguson: Stuck to his guns and played football the right way, ultimately paying dividends against easily one of the most physical sides ever to come to the Keepmoat. Fergie should be commended for getting us on this winning run in the face of so many setbacks, and it’s nice to see a manager always on the edge of his technical area shouting instructions to his players.
Bevis Mugabi: The young centre back summed up his team’s performance when he was sent off for a second bookable offence. Mugabi favoured sheer brutality in his dealings with our strikers all afternoon, and it’s a shame to see a team who once played proper football kicking superior sides off the park in back end of League Two.
Martin Salisbury: The referee was nothing short of a disgrace, and if he’s officiating in the EFL next weekend then there is no hope. He got so many decisions wrong, alongside his hapless assistants, and a red card was not at all a surprise to see owing to Salisbury’s complete and total inability to control the game.
Joe Wright: One man whose performance stood out for the wrong reasons in Rovers colours was centre back Wright. The youngster is still learning his craft but had a bad afternoon here, struggling to clear simple balls away, being physically outmatched constantly despite his height and getting caught chasing shadows far too often.
A ground that is referred to as ‘The World of Smiles’ was the venue for Rovers’ most recent away fixture. Taking the result into account, this is the perfect name for such a ground after Rovers fans left in very high spirits – astonished by the first away victory since January – but there are some aspects that may cause fans to question how apt the title truly is…
The ground is located just outside the centre of Cheltenham, meaning that it is surrounded by a plethora of places to get a pre-match meal or drink. This convenient location meant they had loads of decent places to park, once again at refreshingly cheap prices.
Even though Cheltenham are a team that have spent the last few years in non-league, their ground is surprisingly modern in comparison to some grounds in our division. There was actual working toilets and the seats were undercover which was very useful when the heavens opened during the game. However, I was honestly underwhelmed at the lack of character in the ground. In fact, the most unique and interesting aspect of the stadium is its whimsical name.
Despite there being loads of places to eat around the ground, when I read online they sold reasonably priced Pukka Pies I decided that eating in the stadium was a wise choice. I was very, very wrong. The only kind of pie they sold by the time I got there was chicken and mushroom and I don’t know anyone who actually likes that flavour and would order it by choice. Instead, I ordered chips. As I watched the woman prepare these for me, I realised that she had them in the fryer for maybe a minute at most. After eating them, it became very apparent that these were just raw.
Overall, ‘The World of Smiles’ didn’t leave me with that much to smile about. It wasn’t really anything special, but winning there certainly moved it up the rankings considerably. I think at the end of the day results will always swing my opinions of a place, and I’d love to visit again regardless of the quality if we can perform as well as we did.
A much improved performance sees Rovers finally off the mark…
- An injury to Niall Mason saw Mitchell Lund return to the starting line up but more surprising was the inclusion of Tyler Garrett and Marko Marosi at the expense of Riccardo Calder and Ross Etheridge respectively. The chopping and changing of the goalkeeper suggests that Fergie doesn’t know who his best keeper is. A worrying thought 4 games into the season.
- Fergie talked in the run up to this game that Rovers must win at all costs. The players must not have been listening as they should have been behind after 30 seconds. A nothing ball was headed on to find Ben Williamson through on goal but the striker could only hit the side netting. A better striker would have punished Rovers.
- A hectic start saw Cambridge keeper Will Norris booked for hand ball. He ran way out of his box in his effort to prevent a corner and bizarrely handled the ball. It wasn’t to be the last strange incident on a surreal Tuesday night.
- Rovers began to get their bearings and when John Marquis was bundled over in the area it looked like Rovers would get some reward for their endeavour. Marquis picked himself up, dusted himself off (as I am required to say by law every time a fouled striker takes the resulting penalty) and saw his tame penalty saved by Will Norris.
- To be fair to Marquis he didn’t let his head drop and with Copps pulling the strings behind him, the former Millwall man carved out two good opportunities for himself but couldn’t finish. It is unlikely that Marquis will face a defence as charitable as that of Cambridge again this season and whilst it is encouraging to see him carving out his own opportunities, he needs to be more clinical.
- The crowd were disgruntled at half time but Rovers had been the better side. The second half continued in the same vein with the U’s offering zero attacking intent. This lack of an outlet allowed Copps to be employed exclusively as an attacker and that freedom resulted in another impressive display.
- The games second bizarre incident saw the assistant referee unable to continue presumably due to illness. This in of itself is not that unusual but the fact that the issue took 14 minutes to resolve including a request going over the tannoy for a supporter with a ref licence to take over from the fourth official was definitely a first for me.
- The worry with a big break is that it will slow momentum for the team on top but to Rovers credit they picked up from where they left off as Matty Blair’s pinpoint cross was headed home by a clearly thrilled John Marquis. He had done everything but score.
- Rovers continued to be the better team but needed a goal line clearance from Andy Butler deep into stoppage time to take all three points. An equalizer would have been harsh on Rovers. A deserved victory.
John Marquis – The former Millwall man went from zero to hero as he made up for his missed penalty with an emphatic header. Whilst Marquis and Williams seem to still be on entirely different pages, both players are capable of making something from nothing and should trouble even the best league 2 defences.
Matty Blair – It was an industrious rather than flamboyant performance from Blair but his cross for the match winning goal was a thing of beauty. Perfectly weighted, impossible to defend and something Rovers have lacked in recent games. Hopefully it will be the first of many assists this season for Matty Blair.
James Coppinger – Two matches, two man of the match awards. Copps was given space to roam by a poor Cambridge side and he made the most of it. On another night he could have had at least a hat trick of assists and his second half pass to set Williams free on the left hand side was breathtaking. The former Swindon striker’s tame finish was unworthy of such a incisive pass.
Cambridge United – After a bright start Cambridge lapsed alarmingly and the 1-0 scoreline flattered them. The U’s were toothless in attack, lost the midfield battle and looked disorganized at the back. Only an excellent performance from keeper Will Norris kept the scoreline respectable.
Ross Etheridge – Dropped twice and the season is only four games old with Fergie saying he wanted to take Etheridge ‘out of the firing line’. Worrying times for the young goalkeeper.
Fergie’s critics (myself included) – Darren Ferguson’s stubborn insistence on playing 5-3-2 was probably the deciding factor in Rovers relegation last term but it worked a treat here (albeit in slightly modified form with Houghton sitting as a DM) as Cambridge were totally nullified. This system was initially very successful at the start of Fergie’s reign and he will be hoping that he can make the team click again.
Rovers fail to break down poor Crawley side…
- The starting line up saw expected returns for Copps and Ross Etheridge, as well as a start for Riccardo Calder after he impressed midweek.
- Calder continued his good form into the first half as he was consistently Rovers’ brightest spark. Shame that everyone around him was total dogger. The defence was shaky, Tommy Rowe was anonymous, Copps couldn’t pick out a team mate and the attack was toothless.
- Things looked very grim for Rovers when going in 1-0 down at half time. Calder ran down a blind alley after picking up Andy Butler’s weak clearance, a raking crossfield ball was enough to pick apart Rovers defence with Matty Blair again showing that he isn’t a defender. The resulting cross was spilled by Etheridge and bundled over the line by James Collins. Soft.
- It is commendable that Joe Wright tries to bring the ball out of defence but he was caught out too many times in the first half. His half time substitution for Tyler Garrett was no surprise and Garrett offered a more solid presence after the break.
- As on Tuesday night against Forest, Rovers looked a different side in the second half. The equalizer was one straight from the training ground as Matty Blair pulled a low corner to the penalty spot for Copps to smash home on the turn. A fine goal.
- After that it was all Rovers but there was a disappointing lack of clear cut chances. Copps powerful free kick was smartly saved by Yusuf Mersin. The Turkish goalkeeper looked shaky aside from that, his awful distribution gifting Rovers possession on a number of occasions but the reds were unable to capitalise.
James Coppinger – Copps has had a number of critics this season and it was set to be another disjointed performance until his excellently taken goal. From there Copps was by far Rovers best player and delivered a number of perfect crosses only for Andy Williams to be nowhere near any of them. A return to form? Too early to say but this performance was at least encouraging.
Riccardo Calder – Our best player in the second half against Forest and our best player in the first half here. Faded a little in the second half and was promptly subbed but if he can maintain a decent standard for a full 90 minutes then we have a decent player on our hands (until January at least).
John Marquis – Worked tirelessly all game, showed good awareness to pick out his team mates and generally made a nuisance of himself. Just needs a goal now.
Ross Etheridge – Well this has been an inauspicious start to say the least for the young keeper. Etheridge has conceded 4 goals from 7 shots on target and at least 3 of those have directly been his fault. Still, he can only get better…
Andy Williams – Maybe his worst Rovers performance yet. Uncharacteristically, the delivery into the box from Copps, Calder, Rowe, Blair and others was uniformly excellent but Williams movement and positioning was awful all afternoon. Add on a couple of good chances blazed over the bar and you are left with a rotten game. Maybe time for a stint on the bench?
Home town support – 4327 is a pathetic crowd for a sunny August afternoon but it is a reflection of the dire football combined with ticket prices that are still too high. When will Rovers realize that more fans paying less money is at least the same as hardly any fans paying more money.
Late strike seals an undeserved victory for Forest…
- The big talking points of the starting line up were the absences of Etheridge and Coppinger. It seems odd that Darren Ferguson has brought in a keeper who he is seemingly unsure about as a number 1. With Thorsten Stuckmann now off the books this seems particularly short sighted.
- Copps was most likely just rested, whilst he would have been raring to go against his former club, Saturday’s game against Crawley Town is much more important
- The first half was everything that is wrong with the Fergie era. Round pegs in square holes defensively, poor goalkeeping, tactical ineptitude and a total lack of cutting edge. Matty Blair looked wasted at right wing back and Tyler Garrett lost at left wing back. The three centre midfielder’s were predictably overran by their far superior counterparts and it was no surprise when Rovers went 1-0 down.
- The goal itself was soft however, particularly as Marko Marosi got a hand to it. He should be disappointed to be beaten from there albeit by a strong strike from David Vaughan.
- Rovers were lucky to go in only 1-0 down as Forest marauded down both wings and only their profligate finishing ensured a one goal deficit as the referee blew his whistle.
- To use that classic term from the footballing lexicon, it really was a game of two halves. Riccardo Calder replaced Andy Butler at half time and Rovers started the second half the stronger.
- As bad as Rovers were in the first half, Forest were ten times worse in the second. Uninspired, uninterested, determined to pass the ball around their back 5 no matter now often it got them in trouble. Rovers were fortunate that the ball fell perfectly for Liam Mandeville to prod home from a corner, but the goal had been coming.
- From there, Rovers were in the ascendency and it was a cruel twist of fate that sealed the South Yorkshire sides demise. Tommy Rowe looked to have been blatantly scythed down at the edge of the opposition box, only for the referee to wave play on. From the resulting clearance, Jamie Ward found himself one on one with Marosi, slotting home from a difficult angle. Good finish under pressure but he never should have been given the opportunity. Poor from the officials.
Joe Wright – Composed, strong, determined. Watch and learn Luke McCullough. We have been dying out for someone worthy to partner Andy Butler and we may have finally found our man. Niall Mason also impressed alongside him.
Tommy Rowe – He really is a touch of class. In a game when Rovers had little possession, the former Wolves man was calm and composed and was at the heart of every Rovers attack.
Matty Blair – Did his part defensively and was excellent going forward. There is a nagging feeling that he is going to spend a frustrating season being wasted at right wing back however.
Liam Mandeville – A goal and an assist in three days. He would have taken that I reckon…
Marko Marosi – This was his big chance to stake a claim for the number 1 jersey and he emphatically fluffed his lines. Showed zero understanding with his defence, had no command of his area, awful distribution and should have done better with the first goal. In the space of two games, goalkeeper has become Rovers biggest problem position.
Harry Middleton – We wont face a midfield as good as Jamie Paterson, Chris Cohen and David Vaughan again this season but too often the academy graduate was a passenger. What kind of midfielder is Harry Middleton? He doesn’t do much tackling, offers zero goal threat and creates little in terms of chances. He must improve.
Apostolos Vellios – Nottingham Forest’s £1 million summer signing looked like a competition winner all game. His only contribution was a yellow card.