Tag Archives: match Review

Doncaster Rovers vs Scunthorpe United – Report

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

  • Rovers never even sat in the car, let alone got into first gear or anything higher, turning in one of the most abject, soulless performances in years. There was no fight, no endeavour and certainly no sign that we can come out of this relegation battle with our League One status intact.

  • Players who only two months ago looked capable of mounting a serious Play Off push now look like hapless no marks, unable to muster even a meaningful effort to win a football match. The bulk of this side took Stoke City to the limit, but confidence is through the floor and there appears no way to pull them back up.

  • Every different three-man combination in midfield, and there have been many, has failed to live up to the task. The formation is not getting the best out of these players and needs to be addressed immediately. In the 3-5-2, Keegan is unable to perform his ‘shielding’ role, whilst a young winger in Riccardo Calder is being asked to play in a steely trio. At Scunthorpe they failed to break up play, put pressure on the opposition or build attacks, spending 90 minutes looking hopeless.

  • Calder is one of a number of young, inexperienced players brought in on loan from Premier League clubs with only a handful of professional games under his belt. Whilst also blooding academy youngsters into this side, Fergie has gambled with our League One status by putting too much on young shoulders. Despite their best efforts here, the likes of Calder, Grant and Gooch all know that even if we go down, it’s back to the plush Premier League surroundings for them in the summer.

  • Serious questions must now be asked of the manager. Too many line-up changes from game-to-game, plus constant alterations to the formation, are not allowing us to have any stability or regularity to the way we play. Too often players are put in unfamiliar roles that they clearly aren’t up to, and when you add this to the above questions over recruitment, it is time to stop giving Ferguson a free pass for our problems. He is the man in charge, but can he show what he’s made of and get us out of this?

  • It was a field day for Scunthorpe, they had time and space in abundance to execute their game plan and take the win. You have to wonder where the next goal is going to come from. It’s just the one in six games now, and we never even looked like scoring here. It took until well into the second half for us to even win a corner, let alone put a solid effort on target. It isn’t acceptable, and not enough is being done to change it.

Winners

Scunthorpe – Surely the easiest three points the Iron will collect all season, along with bragging rights that could be lauded over us for a while if our slide to League Two isn’t halted. This result means our local rivals have now done the double over us for the first time since 1991, a truly embarrassing stat for the club.

Our Relegation Rivals – Blackpool and Oldham in particular must be delighted with our total capitulation. The Latics now have two games in hand on us and just three points to make up, it looks inevitable that we will grace the bottom four again soon.

Losers

Darren Ferguson – There can be no hiding for the manager now. This is the kind of situation where good managers earn their money and reputations, and bad ones crumble into oblivion. There are genuine questions over his selections, tactics and recruitment, as well as the fact that he seems unable to motivate an underperforming set of players with no confidence.

Paul Keegan – As bad a showing as you will see from the Irishman, who looked lost in the three man midfield and unable to even commit to the basics. Usually so assured in the centre of the park, Keegan just wasn’t his usual self and hid within himself, not what you would expect from the man wearing the captain’s armband.

The Rovers Supporters – We can forgive a bad run, or a narrow defeat. We can forgive things not going our way, but to pay to sit in the rain and watch the players turn in such a poor showing lacking effort and quality in a local derby, or any match, is not something we as fans should have to put up with. This defeat was the worst way to reward the loyal fans who packed the away end at Glanford Park.

It is hard to find the positives from yet another defeat, this arguably the worst of the entire run that is threatening to turn this season into one ending in relegation. Something must be done immediately to stop the final nail in the coffin to what has been a truly golden era for the club.

Adam Stubbings

Doncaster Rovers vs Shrewsbury Town – Report

What an absolute, unmitigated disaster that was…

• What to do about a problem like McCullough? Whilst the obvious option was to drop the Northern Ireland defender entirely and recall Andy Butler, Darren Ferguson instead opted to change the formation to a 4-1-3-2 with McCullough in front of the defence.

• McCullough was able to utilize his passing range without the need to position himself in a place vaguely appropriate to stop the ball bouncing over his head. I have been McCullough’s fattest biggest critic this season but he was much improved in a different role. Surely Paul Keegan will return to the side when fully fit however.

• The change of formation also allowed Taylor-Sinclair to play in his actual position. Lo and behold he was just as awful at left back as he has been all season at centre back. If Rovers don’t sign a better defender before the end of the season, they will go down. It is as simple as that.

• In midfield Lynden Gooch and Riccardo Calder were direct and lively, particularly in the first half but Conor Grant seemed lost and struggled to make any impact on the game. The young midfielder has started at every available opportunity since joining from Everton and is perhaps in need of a rest.

• Rovers biggest problem (aside from the comical goal) was in attack. Stand in skipper Nathan Tyson said it was time for his team mates to ‘stand up and be counted’ in the run up to the game but he was anonymous throughout. Liam Mandeville didn’t fare any better and Andy Williams succeeded only in missing Rovers best chance.

• It is not just the attack that failed to make a mark however, the entire team were outfought and out thought throughout a lacklustre second half. At no point did Rovers look like a side scrapping for points. The late siege you would expect from a home team in need of a victory never materialized with Shrewsbury remaining the more likely to score in the closing stages.

• Shrewsbury lost the experienced Zak Whitbread after 27 minutes to injury but 20 year old Dominic Smith (who only made his début last October) was hardly tested as Rovers struggled to create a meaningful chance.

• On a day when Rovers lacked creativity it was galling to see Harry Forrester score his third goal in as many games for Rangers. Letting such a talented player leave seemed odd when in mid table, it looks downright ludicrous for a team struggling just outside the relegation zone.

Winners

Richie Wellens – He won’t care about the mixed reception but he will deeply cherish a hugely important win for Shrewsbury.

Luke McCullough – Answered his growing critics with an assured performance. Still deserves to be nothing more than back up to Paul Keegan though.

Andy Butler – Finally recalled to the squad and gave a solid performance to confirm what all Rovers fans already know. Andy Butler is undoubtedly our best defender. When fit he has to start.

Losers

Thorsten Stuckmann – The simple fact is without Stuckmann, Rovers would probably be bottom now. He has produced some vital saves in big games and whilst his distribution is poor he has to go down as one of Paul Dickov’s better signings. There is no excusing his howler for Shrewsbury’s goal however. We had a goalkeeper at school who once conceded twice directly from a corner in one game. He used to eat glue.

Rovers Strikers – Whilst the midfield has to take some of the blame, Rovers have now scored 3 goals in 8 games. 2 of those goals came in matches we lost anyway. That is not just relegation form, it is bottom of the league form. Tyson, Williams and Gooch have now gone a combined 19 games without scoring. Horrific.

Darren Ferguson – After 9 winless games, Fergie finally changed the formation against Shrewsbury and the result was yet another miserable defeat. Paul Dickov’s worst run as Rovers manager was 9 games without a win, DF has now surpassed that but remains largely free of pressure. If Rovers are to change their manager with a view to saving their season, it has to be now. It is time to stick or twist. 5 of the players who featured against Shrewsbury were signed by Ferguson and another was given his first league start.

Those players aside this is pretty much the same group of players who finished 13th last season plus a better goalkeeper in Stuckmann and a goalscorer in Andy Williams. Our current league position is quite frankly a fucking disgrace.

Doncaster Rovers vs Millwall – Report

A much improved performance in an end to end game…

  • The starting line up brought a couple of surprises with Chaplow starting and Andy Butler once again consigned to the bench. Chaplow justified his inclusion with the equalizer but none of the back three covered themselves in glory.
  • Rovers started badly and it was no surprise when Paul Keegan’s glorious flick on fell for Steve Morison to lob a stranded Thorsten Stuckmann. 1-0.
  • Rovers almost fell apart following the early Millwall goal as McCullough allowed Lee Gregory to ease past him on the byline and only a smart stop from Stuckmann kept the reds in the game.
  • With Rovers on the back foot Millwall made the puzzling decision to sit back and allow the home team possession. Rovers looked there for the taking at one point and Millwall will surely wish they had tried to press home an advantage as Rovers went on to dominate the game.
  • Great work from Andy Williams for Chaplow to slide home and the human thumb seemed to enjoy celebrating in front of the Millwall fans – he’s a braver man than I!
  • Taylor-Sinclair was once again unconvincing but it was his defensive partner Luke McCullough who was the most culpable. Whilst McCullough was very good in possession, three times his weak defending allowed Millwall a shot at goal and if not for their profligate strike force Rovers would have had a much bigger mountain to climb. How much longer must we watch a defender who is slow, has no positional sense and can’t tackle, at the heart of our defence?
  • In midfield Keegan was poor and Middleton looked a big improvement when brought on in the second half. It is possible that Middleton is better as an impact sub but he will be pushing for a start against Shrewsbury.
  • The decision to bring off a clearly annoyed Andy Williams seemed odd but Lynden Gooch was lively and direct and caused problems for a tiring Millwall defence. More of the same please.
  • Millwall’s chant of ‘nobody likes us, we don’t care’ should actually be ‘nobody cares about us, we don’t like it’ such is their complete lack of relevance to the footballing world. Get over yourselves.
  • The Black Bank did well to remain positive in freezing conditions. Even the competition provided by a malfunctioning PA system failed to dampen their spirits.
  • Rovers didn’t actually look like a team who had lost 4 on the bounce, particularly after the opening 20 minutes. Whilst this is encouraging against a decent Millwall side, let us not forget we are still only 3 points above the relegation zone and have a just a solitary victory in 2016.

Winners

Conor Grant – Looked rusty in the first half but was back to his best in the second half. Grant always wanted the ball and created space time and time again only for a team mate to look elsewhere. As our best attacking midfielder the young Everton loanee has a big part to play for the remainder of the season.

The referee – Despite a number of decisions being unpopular with the Rovers fans, Carl Boyeson actually got most of the big decisions correct and on another day all three of Lund, Chaplow and McCullough could have been sent off.

Richard Chaplow – Not a perfect performance but a much improved one and a vital goal. Just about earning his place in the starting line up.

Losers

Cedric Evina – Evina has struggled to replicate his early season form in recent times and he was particularly poor against Millwall. The young defenders decision making was off, he regularly gave the ball away and the Millwall defence coped with everything he threw at them fairly comfortably. His afternoon was summed up by his air kick from Nathan Tyson’s inch perfect cross.

Nathan Tyson – Speaking of Tyson his miss after picking the pocket of a Millwall defender was absolutely unforgivable. If Tyson was a better finisher he would have played at a higher level in his career but it was the kind of chance strikers dream of. It was even at the right angle for a left footer but with the entire right side of the goal to aim at Tyson shot unconvincingly at Jordan Archer.

James Coppinger – From captain to unused substitute in a few short weeks. Coppinger has always been a role model and a perfect professional but he has never had to sit games out at Rovers before. It will be interesting to see how he reacts in the coming weeks.

Doncaster Rovers vs Walsall – Report

A typical SOD performance overwhelms a poor Rovers team…

• In trying to find his best XI, Darren Ferguson has made some odd choices in recent weeks and so it was again as Chaplow and Middleton started the game as wingers. Well right and left sided midfielders anyway. Wingers would be a bit generous.

• The obvious negative to this decision was a crippling lack of width as Middleton and Chaplow both looked uncomfortable and Rovers were left without any kind of outlet on the wing. If DF wanted to play four in midfield than surely Cameron Stewart would have been a better starting option what with him being an actual winger and all.

• One worrying thing to come out of all of this is that Rovers and Ferguson don’t appear to be able to learn from their mistakes. Rovers went behind again for the 9th time since Ferguson took over. Again they conceded from a set piece. Again the defending was woeful and yet again a McCullough error led directly to a goal. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said “Insanity: playing Luke McCullough over and over again and expecting different results”

• Last week’s defeat to Port Vale was the final nail in Rovers play off coffin. Tuesday nights defeat to Walsall once again sees the reds looking down the table instead of up it for the first time since Darren Ferguson took over. Rovers find themselves 8 points above the drop zone having played at least a game more than most teams around them. Depressing.

• Rovers were limited to just 3 shots on target and only Mandeville’s excellent solo strike tested the keeper in any meaningful way. It feels like I have spent all season writing about Rovers lacklustre defence but neither Paul Dickov or Darren Ferguson have shown they have any kind of solution. It is simply impossible and unthinkable for a side with McCullough and Taylor-Sinclair at centre back to progress anywhere.

• Rubbing it in even more was a resolute back line for Walsall featuring former rovers James O’ Connor who was absolutely excellent throughout against a talented forward line of Williams and Gooch. O’ Connor is a leader and a blood and guts defender. Something Rovers are absolutely crying out for.

• Whilst the front two are clearly gifted footballers they are yet to click. This was most evident in Rovers best chance of the game when Williams got in behind the back four only to shoot wide from a tight angle with Gooch screaming for the pull back for what would have been a tap in. As much as we have missed Butler, Tyson is a huge loss for Rovers and Williams looks lost without him.

• Rovers also looked like three different units against Walsall with seemingly no link between defence, midfield and attack. Conor Grant is normally a good player for this but in his absence all of Coppinger, Chaplow and Middleton were found wanting. Only Keegan fulfilled the role given to him and even then it was with his usual caveat of giving the ball away far too often. Is it the players fault though when 3 of the midfield 4 are playing out of their natural position?

Winners

Liam Mandeville – The young striker has been one of the only bright points in the last couple of games and he capped an enthusiastic performance with a solo goal of real quality. A couple more like that and Gooch will be looking over his shoulder.

Walsall – Oh SOD… It was just a vintage Sean O’ Driscoll performance wasn’t it? Movement, calm on the ball, good delivery, well organized. It is tempting to say Rovers made the saddlers look good but the South Yorkshire side were actually on top for the first 15 minutes until Walsall found their feet for what would eventually be a textbook away victory. Good luck to them.

Losers

Darren Ferguson – Welcome to the losers list Fergie, for the first time ever. The players have to take some responsibility obviously but players playing out of position, a leaky defence and a lack of commitment are all remits of the gaffer. Rovers have undoubtedly improved since his arrival but is the honeymoon period coming to an end? Saturdays game at Glanford Park is now a huge one.

The Rovers fans – After the Stoke game I wrote: ‘The reaction from large elements of the Rovers support when Main was substituted was disgusting. Ironic cheers are not something that an under confident 23 year old will benefit from hearing’ – Substitute young Curtis for Richard Chaplow and the message remains the same. It doesn’t help the club, it certainly won’t motivate the players and it just comes across as childish, petulant and pathetic. Grow up.

Whoever picks the man of the match – McCullough two weeks running despite being directly responsible for 2 of the 4 goals that Rovers porous defence has conceded. Baffling.

DONCASTER ROVERS VS STOKE CITY – REPORT

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

Winners
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?

Losers
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.

Doncaster Rovers vs Scunthorpe United report

Well after all the build up and excitement of recent games, what a massive let down that was…

  • Rovers started lively but were soon deflated by Madden’s 20th minute goal. While there was more than a touch of offside about his close range finish, the ball should never have been allowed to get as far as the back post in the first place. Alcock had diverted a similar cross behind for a corner only moments earlier and this should have been a warning sign.
  • Following the goal Rovers really were woeful with nobody having the confidence to bring the ball down and try and play it. Rovers attacking trimutive of Williams, Tyson and Grant were completely marked out of the game.
  • Rovers were ponderous in possession allowing a sea of yellow to engulf any player who did find himself in a decent position. In comparison the Iron often found themselves in acres of space and if anyone looked like scoring before half time, it was the visitors.
  • Harry Middleton has been excellent during Rovers resurgence but this perhaps was a game too far for the young midfielder. Too often he was overran in the middle of the park and it probably came as a relief to him when he was sacrificed at half time for Paul Keegan.
  • Rovers started the second half brightly with Keegan offering a calming presence in midfield and Copps finally leading by example (the least you would expect of your captain in a local derby) with some excellent passes as well as a couple of good tackles.
  • Nobody comes close to Paul Keegan in the tackling stakes though and one particular cruncher just inside Scunthorpe’s half was almost the catalyst for a Rovers come back as the Black Bank roared its approval.
  • Further substitutions  followed and while Stewart and N’guessan were an improvement on Lund and Tyson it always felt like an equalizer would be just beyond Rovers grasp. Cameron Stewart came closest with his long range, curling effort thumping off the bar and out for a goal kick. Not our day.
  • Andy Butler is an excellent defender but in a formation that calls for quick, counter attacking football, his lack of any kind of actual footballing ability is becoming a problem. Too many times Butler headed blindly forward when he had the time to bring the ball down and play it.
  • Whilst it jars against Rovers perceived dominance in the second half, Scunthorpe actually had more possession and more shots on target than Rovers over 90 minutes. A more telling statistic is Scunthorpe’s 3 bookings and 13 fouls compared to 0 bookings and 7 fouls for Rovers. It may not have been pretty but local derby’s rarely are. Which side truly wanted it more?

Winners

James Coppinger – Probably Copps best 45 minutes of football since the glorious second half against Leeds as he took the game by the scruff of the neck and almost grabbed Rovers an equalizer with his excellent turn and volley that was well saved by Luke Daniels.

Paul Keegan – Calm, assured, accurate passing. It remains to be seen whether Paul Keegan has the legs to fit in to Darren Ferguson’s 5-3-2 formation but on this evidence, Middleton should receive a well deserved rest against Oldham on Monday.

The Black Bank – Despite Rovers turgid first half performance the Black Bank never stopped singing. Obviously buoyed by recent events against Crewe and Burton, the Rovers fans remained vocal right until the end.

Scunthorpe’s defence – Probably the best defensive performance I have seen all season. Scunthorpe pressed high, gave Rovers no time on the ball and formed a yellow brick wall at the penalty spot even as Rovers surged forward more and more. Pains me to say it but a deserved win the Iron.

Losers

Conor Grant – Something had to give with the Everton loanee’s mightily impressive recent performances and sure enough he was totally anonymous against Scunthorpe on boxing day. With his talent you would think this is a blip rather than a downturn in form however.

Mitchell Lund – Despite playing some of his best football, Lund has been subbed in each of Rovers last three games. You feel that as soon as Ferguson finds a replacement, the youngster will have to settle for a place on the bench.

Nathan Tyson – Cut a frustrated figure throughout and other than one first half surge offered little against a resolute Scunthorpe defence. Could have been sent off for a petulant kick out just before being hauled off by Ferguson. A world apart from his hat trick in this same fixture last season.

Doncaster Rovers vs Stalybridge Celtic

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.

Winners

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’

 

Losers

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.

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.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Winners

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.

Losers

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.

 

Rovers vs Wolves match Review

It is easy to be dismissive about Rovers famous invincibles preseason side of 2015/16, so easy in fact that I have just done it, but do you know what? Beating a full strength Sunderland side 2-0 is a fucking great result and one that the players should be proud of.

Sunderland arrived at the Keepmoat with nearly 3000 screaming Mackems at their back and left with their tails between their chunky legs as goals from Cedric Evina and Harold (I’m trying to rebrand him as a new, more mature footballer this season) Forrester put the Black Cats down like a stray bullet from an American dentist.

Following the news that another experienced and established lower league player has signed in the shape of Danny N’Guessan there are a lot of reasons to be confident going into the new season, something which has been blatantly missing from the last two disappointing campaigns.

Forrester’s goal against Sunderland was a timely reminder that he has the potential to be one of the best players in league 1 next season and if Cedric Evina can convincingly volley home a flowing move than literally anything is possible.
Wolves
It is with this positivity in mind that Rovers welcomed Wolves to the Keepmoat for their final pre season game of the Summer. Wolves have had a quiet summer transfer wise so far with only three players coming in with the aim seemingly to move some of the high profile big earners off the pay role with Kevin Doyle, Tomasz Kuszczak and Sam Ricketts all departing. Still at the club however is former Rover Carl Ikeme who started in Wolves recent 2-2 stalemate with Aston Villa.

Rovers played some nice stuff against Wolves but conceding three goals from corners is massively worrying with imposing figures like Butler, Jones and Stuckmann at the back. On a more positive note Forrester and Wellens looked lively and Stuckmann impressed. Elsewhere this game should be evidence enough that Andy Williams should not be playing up front on his own and we still desperately need a first choice right back. Mitchell Lund has done very well under difficult circumstances but he is not ready to be the only right back at league one club with genuine promotion aspirations.

Further cause for optimism is the continued success of the Black Bank project that has captured the imagination of many in the South Stand. Those of us that are old enough to remember, often speak of how much we miss the unforgettable atmosphere that was present at Belle Vue and while it is perhaps unrealistic to hope of a return to that, it is very encouraging to see something being done to improve the lack of noise at the Keepmoat.

So a few decent signings, a more vocal crowd and coming off the back of a fantastic win against premier league opposition. Start of the season optimism ay? Nothing quite like it!