Tag Archives: opinion

Portsmouth FC Vs Doncaster Rovers: Match Preview

No win in two games classes as a bad run for Rovers at the moment, so off we go to the South Coast to try and put it right…

17 points, 3rd in the table…it is a “satisfactory” opening ten games according to Darren Ferguson, who rightly acknowledges that we can be better despite almost being exactly where we want to be at present. Indeed, if the season were to end right now I think we’d all be pleased, as it’d mean we will be making the immediate return to League One that has been demanded by all at the club.

Luton undid us in our last away outing, and despite a good response on Tuesday a draw was all that could be taken from a combative encounter with Carlisle, so Rovers are yet to beat a true promotion rival. Our next opponents Portsmouth are exactly that, the favourites for the title who unfortunately are scoring goals for fun at Fratton Park.

Despite this Rovers are the highest scoring team in the division outright, a fact that also enables to sit directly above Portsmouth, and the automatic promotion line, by virtue of netting more in the first ten games. That stat could be even better, but Rovers have ironically struggled to put away chances including three penalty misses, all from different players after Tommy Rowe’s spot kick struck a post with the scores at 2-1 against Carlisle.

Portsmouth have scored in every home game going back to March, and have 12 goals in their last 3 matches on home turf, winning the lot. The Pompey ranks include no less than four ex-Rovers players, and whilst Enda Stevens and Milan Lalkovic can probably expect good receptions from the travelling fans the same cannot be said of Kyle Bennett or Curtis Main, two players who flattered to deceive in the red and white hoops.

Rovers may finally turn to Mathieu Baudry to start in central defence, but it would be wise to expect minimal changes again as Fergie looks to keep the consistency in our ranks going. James Coppinger has begun to look a little weary in the past week but is still a pivotal part of the midfield, and strike duo Williams and Marquis will look to continue their personal battle for the Golden Boot, now locked together on five apiece along with Coppinger.

One to Watch

Eyes may turn to Curtis Main if he is selected, but the biggest threat up front for Portsmouth has to be Conor Chaplin. The teenager is carving out a great reputation for himself having broken into the first team at the back end of the 2014/15 season, and has scored 3 goals in his last 4 games.

Big Weekend

John Marquis scored another superb effort against Carlisle, bringing his tally for the season up to five, and he will have a point to prove going back to one of the many clubs with whom he spent time on loan from Millwall. Marquis is also one booking away from a ban, which would be a big blow to the front line that lacks any real cover.

Adam Stubbings

Doncaster Rovers vs Carlisle United: Match Preview

It’s a swift chance to bounce back as Rovers face their second tough test in a matter of days…

Despite sitting pretty at the top of League Two after half an hour on Saturday, a 1-0 lead that should have been higher was turned around by hosts Luton Town as the Hatters went on to a 3-1 victory to end the Reds’ latest winning run. James Coppinger netted for the third game in a row but the defence was undone too many times and our strikers failed to find their scoring boots.

This was seen as a tough fixture and rightly so as the win took Luton just ahead of us in the table and saw them join us as the division’s highest scoring team to date. Up next is a chance to put things right however as unbeaten Carlisle United come south to the Keepmoat Stadium.

Discounting an epic penalty shoot-out defeat to Derby in the EFL Cup, Carlisle have not tasted defeat since the end of April and will be a formidable opponent. They are one of only two teams to knock off leaders Plymouth so far this term and sit just one point and two places behind us in the standings.

Keith Curle’s side look a dark horse for promotion contention and boast a wealth of talent for this level, conceding just nine goals so far thanks to Mark Gillespie in goal and a defence boasting three ever-presents including veteran Danny Grainger. Our record against the Cumbrians is hit-and-miss but our last meeting at this level was a memorable one, Rovers lifting the Division 3 title at Belle Vue in the closer of the 2003/04 season.

The big question going into the game is which formation Fergie will deploy, reverting to his favoured 3-5-2 in a failed attempt to bring the game back in our favour. If Mathieu Baudry is fit enough to make his full debut, put your money on three at the back. Questions must also be asked of Cedric Evina’s place in the side with Tyler Garratt now fit again after a shoddy display from the Cameroonian at Kenilworth Road.

One to Watch

Charlie Wyke is Carlisle’s main goal threat, picking up where he left off last season netting four goals in eleven games for our visitors. He is ably assisted by the likes of Shaun Miller, who scored the winner against Wycombe on Saturday, Jabo Ibehre and Reggie Lambe, but it is Wyke who so often steals the headlines.

Big Night

Tuesday evening could see a full debut for highly rated centre half Mathieu Baudry, who appeared off the bench against Luton as Fergie tested the 3-5-2, a formation Baudry was signed to play in. If he starts it’ll mean a change in shape for the Reds, but will the Frenchman be sharp enough at present to make the impact we need him to?

Morecambe vs Doncaster Rovers – Preview

Saturday marks the 500th appearance of James Coppinger for the club, an enormous milestone that will rightly be celebrated by all at the club. Coppinger is now in his thirteenth season with the club in which he has played a crucial role in a League One title-winning team – netting the winning goal that handed us that accolade – as well as promotion at Wembley and a Football League Trophy triumph, and it is hard to argue with his place among the greats at Doncaster Rovers.
His status is assured but his form this season continues to add to the legend. Two goals and three assists in the opening six games have earned the skilful midfielder a nomination for Player of the Month, and he will be a key man when Rovers head to high-flying Morecambe this weekend aiming to return to the top three after a loss to Crewe ended a four-game winning run.
The Shrimps were top of the league after a run of four straight wins until losing at home to Leyton Orient last time out, so Jim Bentley’s side will be a tougher opponent than their pre-season tag as relegation favourites suggests. This is the first meeting between the two teams since 2003, when Rovers finished behind Morecambe on goal difference in the Nationwide Conference but went on to win promotion in the inaugural Play Offs and the differing trajectories of both clubs has kept them apart ever since.
Rovers’ injury curse shows little sign of relenting as we look to bounce back from a first defeat in five games, new signing Frazer Richardson unlikely to be fit to feature after taking a knock in the 2-1 defeat at Crewe meaning Darren Ferguson may have to rely on a makeshift defence once more. Riccardo Calder is pushing for a start after another encouraging performance off the bench, whilst messrs Williams and Marquis will surely continue up front looking to get back amongst the goals.
One to Watch
Barry Roche is up alongside Coppinger for the Player of the Month award after a series of inspired performances helped the club he has served for eight years head to the top of the table. Clean sheets in games against Yeovil and Portsmouth show the importance he has, and even in defeat against Leyton Orient last Saturday Roche was acclaimed for a Man of the Match display that kept Morecambe in the game.
Big Weekend
All eyes will be on the visiting #26 as James Coppinger breaks the 500 appearance barrier, extending his club record. He is a man in top form, turning in vintage displays and with his propensity for shining when the big occasions come calling, expect nothing less than another masterclass from the Rovers captain.
Adam Stubbings

Crewe Alexandra vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

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.

Winners:

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.

Losers:

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.

Lizzie Robinson

5 things to do instead of going to watch EFL Trophy Fixtures

As I’m sure you’re all woefully unaware tonight marks the beginning of the English football league’s brand new, shit-smeared format for the EFL Trophy (formally the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy).

No doubt we all squealed with delight at the thought of having to pay yet another 20 odd quid to see our proud boys square off against a Norwich youth side in a match of total insignificance for a trophy of little prestige. Reality has drawn us in our ‘group’ opener against Mansfield; a match with all sorts of genuinely exciting, meaningful and passionate connotations (scabs, scabs, scabs) soiled by a trophy that has undergone such a politically and financially dubious re-brand. Naturally, we at the DRSG (as well as loads of other supporters across the country) have called for a boycott of these fixtures, for the sake of both our sanity, dignity and our bank balances.

Knowing you however, the apathetic, lonely, bored and feckless lower-league football supporter, we’re more than aware how difficult it might be to turn down the temptation of blowing a tenner on wasting a night in another shite northern cess-pit. So to counter this we’ve decided to comp together a list of suggestions for things that you could do that would definitely be more fulfilling than going to watch any EFL Trophy matches:

1.) Do the same shit you do every other night that the EFL Trophy doesn’t exist.

That’s right, you the reader being the stereotypical football supporter this means we’re suggesting you cosy in with your Iceland frozen curry, watch endless re-runs of Top Gear specials, share the shit out of Lad Bible memes and wank yourself furiously to Habbo Hotel. (Just us then?)

2.) Go and actually play some football.

That’s right, football isn’t just a sport reserved for moisturised, tattooed dickheads! You too, the urban dickhead, can enjoy a good old fashioned game of togger too. Get yourself down to the Keepmoat Stadium cages to add an extra ‘edge’ to your boycott by spending your hard earned pennies on our cash-thirsty club anyway; there’s a small chance you’ll shift a few pounds, and a large chance you’ll play better than ATS does every week.

3.) Take a maniac out for a pint

Being a Rovers fan, it’s only natural we assume you are a total social recluse with a desperate desire to have friends. Good news! Being from a town with literally nothing else to do on an evening but get shit-faced there’s a whole host of like-minded desperate souls who’ll gladly share a pint and a story about the good old days about when they got caned at school and life daan t’pit. Doncaster town centre is a real hive for these toothless, thirsty companions; why not take that scruffy bloke who’s ‘lost his key’ for a 99p J-bomb?
If you lack the motivation to actually go outside, Viking Chat’s ‘Off Topic’ section offers a similar experience to spend your night debating with pissed up, foggy old Croaks.

 

4.) Book yourself in for some cosmetic surgery.

If you happen to have read John Ryan’s eloquently penned auto-biography ‘Dare to Dream’ you might have noticed a few subtle, between-the-lines references to a plastic surgery company that offers to Make Yourself Amazing. If nothing else, being involved in the DRSG has taught us one thing; that being a rovers fan goes hand in hand with being physically repulsive. If you are one of the masses of cretinous monstrosities that closer resembles football catering to actual human, perhaps a little time on the surgeons table wouldn’t go amiss. A little face-lift or hair-replacement never hurt anyone (apart from actual literal pain it causes); Dean Saunders and John Ryan can testify to it themselves.

5.)Start up a Rovers based supporters group.

Allow us to assure you that being part of a supporters group for rovers fans is wholly fulfilling and not at all a fruitless procrastination from all those things you should be doing like getting better jobs, being nice to your wives or girlfriends, or coming to terms with your rampant, closeted homosexuality. A club like ours deserves at least 3 more supporters groups to palm their personal opinions off as those of the masses and to swan about the stadium with an overwhelming sense of self-importance. With the famous DRSG vs VSC spat being simmered to near luke-warm perhaps its time for a more volatile, more committed and far better looking band of idiots to set up their own group to pretend they’re making a difference with. Viva la revolution!

So there you have it! You have no excuse to be suckered into attending this frankly disgraceful fixture, when all 5 of our alternative evening plans would prove far more beneficial to your mental health, social life and in some cases physical appearance. Enjoy your night off from the relentless grind of being a disregarded football fan, and I’ll see you all on Habbo Hotel!

Cheltenham Town – Away Day Review

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.

Lizzie Robinson

Cheltenham Town vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

Winning two games on the trot is totally mental for Doncaster Rovers as of late. Cheltenham hadn’t lost at home in 17 games, and Rovers hadn’t won away since January 2nd – and we still managed to beat them!

  • The starting line up was hardly surprising following Tuesday’s victory against Cambridge, with Evina stepping in for the injured Tyler Garrett. The 4-4-2 formation has continued to work well for the Rovers side since it was implemented by Darren Ferguson.
  • Rovers started very well, with most of the play being in Cheltenham’s half. Fergie’s men dominated and had chance after chance, but failed to capitalise nearly every time the ball reached the box. Matty Blair beat every man on the field numerous times, but with no real end product and both Williams and Marquis missed numerous sitters. It seemed like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon where we’d be unable to get the goal we very much deserved despite our incredible performance.
  • Cheltenham had a few good spells too, but nothing ever came from them due to the absolutely incredible quality defensively. All members of the back four avoided making errors and dealt with any attacking manoeuvres efficiently. If the ball ever did get past our back line, the safe hands of Marko Marosi were there to ensure we kept a clean sheet. Although the young keeper didn’t have much work to do, he still managed to pull off some exceptional saves despite some unnecessary criticism from the fans – don’t worry, I’ll get to that behaviour shortly.
  • In the second half, Rovers came out fighting. A beautiful pass from James Coppinger, who also silenced his many critics at the game, arrived at the feet of top goalscorer John Marquis who rolled the ball in with ease. It was never in doubt.
  • It was evident that the Cheltenham players were becoming increasingly frustrated with the Rovers side running rings around them (literally in some cases) because they began to lash out as the game progressed. There was at least one clear cut penalty in the second half where after beating the Cheltenham defender three times, Coppinger was kicked to the ground in the middle of the box.
  • The two substitutes, Mandeville and Middleton, didn’t drastically affect the team’s performance or momentum. Mandeville always provides a breath of fresh air when he’s on the pitch and came close to scoring on one occasion. Taking Blair off was a bit bizarre though, he was brilliant as usual.
  • Overall, it was a brilliant performance from Rovers. It seems that after a shaky start to the season at Accrington, we’re really starting to get into the swing of things.

Winners

John Marquis – The obvious choice, he works hard for a solid 90 minutes and once again it paid off with an excellent goal. He is definitely going to get a lot more this season and may find himself being a contender for top goalscorer this season.

The Rovers back four – I never thought I’d label a defence that is so lacking in experienced personnel such as Baudry and Alcock as ‘winners’, but they performed really well. Both Lund and Evina were excellent at full back compared to last season and Wright and Butler also defended with ease.

Marko Marosi – I am so unbelievably happy that Marosi has finally had his chance to shine in the first team. Keeping two consecutive clean sheets is impressive for such an inexperienced player and I simply can’t see him losing his position on the team sheet any time soon.

Losers

Ross Etheridge -There is absolutely no chance Ross is getting back into this side in the near future.  After Marosi has kept two clean sheets it would be simply ridiculous to replace him with the ex-Accrington keeper.

A minority of Rovers fans – It baffles me how after a 1-0 victory some of our fans can still find things to complain about. People seemed to have decided that Marosi was going to have a bad game before he even entered the field. Both Marquis and Coppinger also got an unholy amount of unjustified stick too, totally baffling.

The referee – He seemed to be totally oblivious to the fact we were relentlessly kicked around the pitch by irritated Cheltenham players at times.

Lizzie Robinson

Cheltenham Town vs Doncaster Rovers – Preview

Doncaster Rovers are finally up and running, but is it possible for us to win two games in a week?

We needed improvement from the draw with Crawley and on Tuesday night, we got improvement. Rovers dominated proceedings against Cambridge United on a strange summer evening at the Keepmoat, eventually emerging as 1-0 winners to register our first maximum of the season.

The side imposed themselves on the opposition and created plenty of good chances, and although it was by no means the perfect performance, it was a much better showing than we saw in the previous two league games, so there is plenty of encouragement to take forward into this weekend’s fixture.

That outing will be to Cheltenham, newly promoted back into the EFL after one season playing in the National League. Gary Johnson has turned the perennial strugglers into a formidable outfit and they have made an unbeaten start to the season, underlining their intent by knocking Charlton out of the EFL Cup last week.

In fact, the Robins have not tasted defeat since Easter Monday but Rovers go into the game having sparked a bit of momentum and should have no fears on the pitch when they step out at Whaddon Road this Saturday afternoon. Cheltenham have drawn 1-1 in every league game so far, and were only able to name five substitutes for their match at Carlisle in midweek.

Talismanic striker Dan Holman may not make the game after injuring a toe last Saturday, whilst club captain Aaron Downes remains on the long term injury list. Rovers remain without a host of first team players, including Mathieu Baudry and Paul Keegan, but Tyler Garratt should be fit to feature after going off with a knock against Cambridge.

The last time we played in this fixture in the league was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. An inspired goalkeeping performance from Shane Higgs ensured a 2-1 win for the home side and as a result, Rovers missed the chance to go up automatically from League One in 2007/08. Of course, alls well that ends well as James Hayter and his beautiful head can attest to, and there is no reason to believe that we can’t turn Tuesday’s victory into a run of good form.

Adam Stubbings

Doncaster Rovers vs Cambridge United – Report

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.

Winners

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.

Losers

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.

Doncaster Rovers vs Crawley Town – Report

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.

Winners

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.

Losers

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.

Rob Johnson