Tag Archives: Rovers

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

Doncaster Rovers vs Crawley Town – Preview

The first home game of the 2016/17 season really doesn’t fill me with optimism…

With the first two games Rovers have played both ending with conceding crushing goals in extra time, and the injury list being unbelievably long, Darren Ferguson and his team really need to pull their fingers out and try to secure a win on Saturday. Hopefully, however, we might actually be in with a chance.

The last time Rovers faced Crawley Town was during the 2014/15 season on the 10th February. Rovers ended up winning 5-0, with one of the goal scorers being Curtis Main. It is therefore no surprise that the reds got relegated during that season. Last season, Crawley finished 20th in League 2, escaping the relegation zone by 13 points. This season they have started relatively well though, defeating injury-ridden Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 with skipper Jimmy Smith snatching the lead. It is important to note that despite making several new signings over the summer, the Red Devils are still 4th favourites to be relegated to the conference this season.

In terms of team news, Rovers’ squad is still looking relatively thin. Keegan, Baudry and McSheffery aren’t quite fully fit, but are getting very close to making the squad. When it comes to goalkeepers, Fergie has quite a challenge on his hands as neither Marosi or Etheridge have had stellar performances in the two opening games – I genuinely don’t know who he will pick.

The second half of Tuesday’s performance (bar the last minute goal) was a breath of fresh air and Rovers genuinely took control of the game. The Rovers side looked much more impressive than it did at Accrington with newly fit Joe Wright taking control of our defence in an impeccable fashion. The addition of Mandeville in the team also added an element of pace that is lacking where our other strikers are concerned and would definitely compliment John Marquis. Perhaps Mandeville will be brought in for Williams who appears to be struggling with confidence issues (again) of late, after his penalty miss at Accrington.

Prediction: Doncaster Rovers 2 – 1 Crawley Town (Rowe, Marquis)

One can only hope that we build on our decent performance against a Championship side, stop conceding such crushing late goals and kick-start the promotion push we all want and expect this season.

Lizzie Robinson

DRSG Predicts – Our view on the coming season

Never ones to miss an opportunity to make ourselves look stupid, we have all put our necks on the line and had a go at predicting what will happen with all things DRFC this season. Let’s see how wrong supposed Rovers experts can be…

Rob Johnson

Where will Rovers finish this season?

Even taking into account my reservations with Darren Ferguson and the 5-3-2 formation, we should be too strong for this level. I’m going to say 3rd and promotion on the final day.

Our best signing and why?

Absolutely Tommy Rowe. The best player in League 2. No pressure son. Really high hopes for Matty Blair too.

Our worst signing and why?

Etheridge is the easy option but everything about John Marquis screams flop, particularly his goals per game ratio of 0.18 goals per game. Happy to be proved wrong though, I am often am.

Top goalscorer?

Obvious answer but Andy Williams all the way. I suspect he would score more in a 4-4-2 but with Rowe, Copps and Blair pulling the strings he should get loads of chances.

League 2 champions and promoted?

Pompey champions, Rovers, Carlisle and Luton promoted.

Surprise package?

Luton. A big club even at this level. Had two solid seasons back in the football league, time for them to push on now. Also think Crewe wont be as bad as expected.

Make or break season?

Definitely Harry Middleton. This is the year he either establishes himself in the starting XI permanently or follows many of his fellow academy graduates into non league.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Definitely. Only relegation would see Fergie sacked. Am I happy about it? Not especially.

Relegated teams in League 2?

It’s about time Yeovil went back to non league and I’m going to go Newport County as well.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

I think our squad now would beat our squad of last May quite comfortably which says more about how unprepared were for League 1 than anything else.

Finally in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League

Man City, Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Liverpool and Man City again.

Lizzie Robinson

Where will Rovers finish this season?

I was absolutely convinced we’d win the league. Then 8 players all got injured at once. This puts me in a slightly trickier situation, but I’m going to say we’ll make the play offs – I really want a trip to London on the ‘Sunshine Bus’ next year. I’m going to say 4th, and we’ll win at Wembley.

Our best signing and why?

Tommy Rowe. Not only is he a beautiful man, he is far too good to be playing in League 2. He was far too good for us last season when we were dwindling at the bottom of League 1, so how we’ve managed to secure him is totally beyond me. It really showed the board’s intent for the season ahead.

Our worst signing and why?

It seems that Fergie has an issue with Ross Etheridge already. In interviews he has stated that he feels the new keeper has struggled to adapt to the training methods at Cantley Park, and part of me genuinely thinks that (due to recent high praise) Marosi might even make the starting line-up. Any player who struggles to train is a major concern in my opinion.

Top goalscorer?

It has to be Andy Williams, right? I can’t see it being anyone else. Despite him being outrageously inconsistent last season, missing sitters all over the place and struggling with confidence, he still managed to score 16 goals. In a lower league against shoddy defences, imagine the amount of goals he’ll score.

League 2 champions and promoted?

I reckon Plymouth will win it. Portsmouth and Leyton Orient will probably get promoted too, and we’ll obviously win at Wembley.

Surprise package?

I don’t think Grimsby will do as badly as everyone may expect, they could even finish in a playoff position. Although we’ll absolutely thrash them on both occasions we meet.

Make or break season?

I’m going to say Paul Keegan. As much as I adore him, he really needs to prove why he’s still here this season by somehow managing to stay fit throughout. He is currently a liability and struggles to string a succession of appearances together without taking a knock of some sort. He needs to show Fergie that he is worth keeping, because even I have my doubts. If he stays fit he has the potential to become a Rovers legend, him being injured takes up unnecessary wages.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Going to be an optimist, which is always dangerous as a Rovers fan, and say yes… if he sorts out the defence.

Relegated teams in League 2?

Yeovil, and with a heavy heart I reckon Blackpool.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

I’d be much happier if they were all fit to start against Accrington (bar ATS of course). We’ve signed a lot of decent players, and gotten rid of some dead weight too. However, Dany N’Guessann is still taking up space in the treatment room.

Finally in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League

Manchester United, Newcastle, Millwall, Man City, Barcelona I guess, definitely not Leicester…

Neil Taylor

Where will Rovers finish this season?

Top of the league by a 5 point margin. (Although I’m writing this thread morning after Accrington so I’ve had my faith shaken slightly, I was going to predict a 10 point margin).

Our best signing and why?

Tommy Rowe. Not only our best signing but our best player since we were last in the Championship.

Our worst signing and why?

Etheridge. Doesn’t fill me with confidence, doesn’t seem to communicate with his defence and definitely not a step up from Stuckie. He’s a worry.

Top goalscorer?

Williams. Not only top scorer for Rovers or even League 2, probably the top scorer in the whole of the football league.

League 2 champions and promoted?

Rovers, Portsmouth, Grimsby. Playoffs: Luton

Surprise package?

Grimsby. There’s a habit of writing off newly promoted Conference sides, we should know, that was once us.

Make or break season?

Keegan. Surely this must be his last chance to stand for us, assuming he can stay fit (ha!).

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Yes. Either manager of Rovers or Lakeside McDonald’s because if he fucks this up again he’ll not be working in football.

Relegated teams in League 2?

Newport County, Colchester United.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

Fergie has made some very astute signings and one absolutely stand out in Tommy “beautiful bastard” Rowe. We’re a better side than we were last season, can’t really ask much more than that, can you?

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League:

Manchester United, Newcastle, Millwall, Manchester City…. Champions League? I follow European with as much attention as I do when someone’s giving me a set of long directions. Dunno, Barca? Does that sound like an answer that someone who knows what he’s talking about would give? (Ed – Yes it does.)

Flem

Where will Rovers finish this season?

I’m really not confident this season. Two relegations in 3 years has knocked all confidence out of me and I think we will be lucky to reach the play offs. I’m going to say 8th.

Our best signing and why?

Tommy Rowe. Has to be. Why he decided to plump for an average pub side languishing in league 2 I’ll never know.

Our worst signing and why?

Gary McSheffrey. Although he had glimpses of the player of old last season, I feel he doesn’t add much to the side at the age of 96…

Top goalscorer?

Andy Williams, not because he’s great and prolific but because of his lack of competition. Hopefully, Marquis can give him a kick up the arse and he can start raising his conversion rate.

League 2 champions and promoted?

Pompy, Carlisle, Yeovil. Playoffs: Luton

Surprise package?

Yeovil. I have a feeling that they will come good this season after a disappointing season last time out and I tip them to be up there come May.

Make or break season?

Williams. Coming with high expectations last season he didn’t do enough. He needs to find the goals that he was scoring for fun at Swindon or he could find himself a league 2 striker till he retires and winds up working in the trainer section in Sports Direct.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Depends. With our history of sacking successful managers and rewarding the shit ones, I can see us finishing mid table and Fergie being offered a 10 year extension.

Relegated teams in League 2?

Newport, Colchester.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

Definitely! I’m really happy we still have ATS kicking about in there. I think he’s one of best I’ve seen in our shirt for a number of years.

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League

City, Villa, Franchise FC, Pompey, Arsenal, Dundalk

Lewis Grimes

Where will Rovers finish this season?

I think our support (much like last season) will be unwavering in their optimism. I however, struggle to feel the same enthusiasm for life under Fergie Jnr, i don’t feel that ‘keeping hold of our players’ is a particularly laudable achievement given how badly they all let us down last season and I see us starting with the same formation and having the same headaches as last season. This is a physical league and investing faith in youth will see a very busy physio’s table and a very limp season of performances and (hopefully) a change of management eventually. Final position: 16th.

Our best signing and why?

Surely every supporter will be unanimous in bafflement as to why a quality such as Tommy Rowe has decided to stick around? Either way he might be the only shining light of creativity in an otherwise squalid midfield.

Our worst signing and why?

Ross Etheridge. Having not seen him put in a performance its hard to be too critical of him, but this is now yet another changed mind on our man-between-the-sticks from Fergie and yet another figure that doesn’t strike me as any better rated than those before him? With Stuckmann still under contract, it seems nothing more than a side-step at best and ignorance at worst. Stuckmann offered sure hands for a lot of last season in front of a frankly diabolical defence and his being driven from our first team demonstrates the disregard Fergie seems to show to strong characters – one that might prove to be his downfall.

Top goalscorer?

I really fancy Jon Marquis to shine in League 2 for us, fresh club, fresh confidence and plenty of game-time might make him our target man where Williams struggles for form. Its a shame Tyson never gave us a chance as I think he’d have excelled at this level.

League 2 champions and promoted?

In my ignorance I have to admit I don’t know a whole lot about League 2 as it seems to fall from my attention when we aren’t in it… so I’ll have to make uneducated punts. Champions – Portsmouth (out of financial difficult now right??) Promoted – Cambridge United, Grimsby, Carlisle.

Surprise package?

Grimsby Town.

Make or break season?

Paul Keegan. I have been a real Keegs worshipper of the past and have seen him make himself the most important man on the pitch at times. SOD clearly saw him as the shrewd investment when he proved to be at his best, but injuries and lack of consistent game  time followed by a manager who seems to not hold any regard for defensive qualities has rendered Keegan frustrating. A tough tackling, no nonsense, experienced character on the pitch in a muddy and physical League 2 could prove vital to us clawing our way through games but whether a 32 year old Keegan can muster up the effort in the back-end of his time as a Rovers player remains to be seen.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Depends. If you’re asking what I hope for, or what I actually think? Based on his inability to motivate our squad and inflexible approach to football I would hope he might have taken leave early on this season allowing us to flourish in a second half of the season. However, I feel our apathetic board will see him as a manager that is above the stature of others in this league and persevere regardless of lacklustre results. Anything but relegation zone will see him safe I’m afraid and that old line ‘We’re investing in long-term strategies with youth’ will be peddled out.

Relegated teams in League 2?

Again, I have no idea: Exeter City, Notts County.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

I think retaining Williams and somehow securing Rowe have been phenomenal signals of intent. Losing Stuckmann, Tyson and captaining Coppinger all seem to be negative set-backs in my opinion though and I fear that lessons from last season haven’t been learnt. I fully expect we will be loaning in a 19 year old RB from Villa to plug a known gap within the month and him to look like he’s never played football before in his life. The squad is still threadbare and too much faith is still invested in certain players that have proven previously shit suddenly not being shit because we’re in a lower league.

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League

Man City, Norwich, Bury, Liverpool, Juventus.

Wesley Grimes

Where will Rovers finish this season?

7th.

Our best signing and why?

Tommy Rowe. I was stunned when we signed him. Far too good to be playing in our shower of shite last season. Bags of energy and a never say die attitude.

Our worst signing and why?

Gary McSheffrey – The polar opposite of Tommy Rowe. Too old, potential to be laid on the injury table for long spells.  I’d have liked to have seen us pull an up and comer from the lower leagues instead.

Top goalscorer?

John Marquis.

League 2 champions and promoted?

Luton Town
Portsmouth
Plymouth
Doncaster Rovers (playoffs)

Surprise package?

Crewe Alexandra.

Make or break season?

Cedric Evina.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

Yes.

Relegated teams in League 2?

Morecambe, Blackpool.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

I don’t feel we’ve been ruthless enough with the squad and a few players got away with their sub standard performances. However, we did our business early with signings of decent pedigree for this level. If Fergie can’t get this lot playing his days are numbered.

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League:

Manchester City, Aston Villa, Millwall, Arsenal, Barcelona.
Adam Stubbings

Where will Rovers finish this season?

I’m going to hedge my bets a little and predict us to finish 5th. I think the play-offs are the absolute minimum we need to be aiming for, and automatic isn’t out of the question but it’s a tough league and there are a few well equipped sides.

Our best signing and why?

On paper it should really be Mathieu Baudry. Our defence is crying out for a leader, somebody strong and when he gets fit I expect Baudry will fill that role. He has the experience and the ability, from what we’ve seen in the past.

Our worst signing and why?

I don’t think pulling down players before they’ve even had the chance to play for us is really fair, so I don’t think anyone we’ve signed is our ‘worst’ signing. I’d say we can’t really judge this until towards the end of the season.

Top goalscorer?

It has to be Andy Williams. He has the talent, knows where the net is and having scored 16 goals last term at a higher level, he should be aiming for a minimum of 20 goals this season.

League 2 champions and promoted?

It’s hard to look past Portsmouth for the title. I know they’ve flattered to deceive in the last few seasons but surely they cannot continue to underachieve. They’ve made strong signings and have stability in the boardroom and the dugout at last, so Ii think they will go up as champions this time round. I’m plumping for Luton and Plymouth to go up behind them, both have a strong backbone and will be tough to beat.  Plymouth have had a high turnover of players but again seem to have recruited well on paper.

Surprise package?

I fancy Cambridge to surprise a few people and potentially make the play-offs. They’ve only been back in the league a couple of seasons but seem to be building year on year and they have some dangerous players, particularly Luke Berry, Piero Mingoia and Harrison Dunk.

Make or break season?

Andy Williams. He may have been our top scorer last season but he has a tendency to go missing in games for weeks on end and loses his concentration far too easily. If he doesn’t score 20-25 league goals this term then he has failed, as he’s clearly too good for this league when on form. We need a reliable goalscorer up front and he should be that.

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

I hope so, because if he is it’ll mean we’ve had a successful season and are at least in the top 7. If we don’t get off to a good start, the pressure is on straight away and I wouldn’t expect the owners to give him much longer than they gave Dickov last year. He’s failed in his edict to keep us in League One, now there can be absolutely no excuses if he doesn’t have us competing for promotion from August onwards. (Ed – I’m going to have to push you for a definitive answer) Ha alright, I’ll say that he will still be the manager come the end of the season then, marrying with my prediction that we’ll finish in the top 7.

Relegated teams in League 2?

They may have beaten us as recently as April but I think Crewe are in big trouble. Their squad looks devoid of talent, they’re on a massive downward trajectory and might find it hard to swim the tide in League Two. Crawley have opted for an inexperienced manager and have signed 16 new players, many of whom are total unknown qualities. We will soon find out what these sides are like though since we play both in our opening six games.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

Just about, yes. I said in June that we needed to make 12 signings and by my count we’ve made 11 now. I think we still need another striker as Williams and Marquis are the only senior options up top, but our recruitment has been good and we’ve brought in some experienced players for this level. The biggest thing will be keeping (or getting) these players fit, because when a few players go down with injuries we suddenly look a bit threadbare despite having the numbers in.

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League:

Manchester City, Newcastle United, Millwall, Manchester City & Barcelona.

Lee Croft

Where will Rovers finish this season?

I’m going to say 3rd – but we should be aiming for no less than 1st and 100 points

Our best signing and why?

Matheiu Baudry – Looks to be a very talented individual whose future is going to be higher than League Two Level, I think this signing above all is the statement that the club are at least aiming for a return at the first time of asking. 

Our worst signing and why?

Our worst signing has to be Aaron Taylor Sinclair’s sicknote for obvious reasons. If that answer isn’t eligible then I will have to go with Gary McSheffrey. He’s as old as time and spent his time before us last season struggling for Scunthorpe United. 

Top goalscorer?

Without a doubt it should be Andy Williams but it wouldn’t surprise me if Marquis proved he has more fire than expected and tips Williams to the golden boot.

League 2 champions and promoted?

Plymouth and Pompey will probably battle it out for the title with Pompey probably winning the league, Rovers will be some way behind in 3rd and play-offs? Stevenage look to have enough ambition to challenge to return to League One after a disappointing season last term.

Surprise package?

Stevenage (see above).

Make or break season?

Tommy Rowe, just over a year after the leg break that resulted in him being dropped to Wolves bench/Scunthorpe starting line-up (both equally bad) this will tell whether he can take his form from the back end of last season and show some consistency. 

Will Fergie still be manager on the final day of the season?

He managed to oversee our implosion last season and despite Rovers being relegated after being expected to challenge for top six he remained manager so I dread to think what Fergie has to do before we decide enough is enough. 

Relegated teams in League 2?

Morecambe’s days in League Two look to be numbered with each passing season and Crawley will probably also be in the drop zone come May, which is no less than any team that has employed Steve Evans deserves.

Are you happy with how the squad looks now compared to May?

Yes, although personally I’d have liked to have seen 1 or 2 more regulars from last season depart after our capitulation. Namely those such as Copps who were non-existent all season despite playing in 30+ games. I don’t know how Fergie had the nerve to keep him in the first team, never mind as captain!

Finally, in order: Winners of Prem, Champo, L1, FA Cup and Champs League:

West Ham, Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers ,(no answer submitted) & Bayern Munich.

Doncaster Rovers vs Nottingham Forest – Report

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.

Winners

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…

Losers

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.

Accrington Stanley – Away Day Review

I don’t think Rovers’ return to League 2 could have taken place at a better venue…

Rovers fans, after navigating their way through a housing estate, were welcomed to Accrington (and League 2) by a pile of seats that had been ripped out of the terraces and left to decay slowly on the grass outside the away entrance. I couldn’t help but think about the championship grounds we used to visit in comparison to now, and how I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I was very, very young Rovers still played at grounds like this. It was at these places where my love for football was forged and going back to grounds that aren’t all-seated, sleek looking stadiums and actually have some character just floods me with a blinding sense of nostalgia.

The parking arrangements were excellent too. We left our car in the official away car park, a field that was adjacent to the ground. It cost £2 for parking, which in comparison to the prices over the last few seasons was a shock to the system. Paying £10 for a car park that’s basically the same is bloody extortionate really and the parking charges at Accrington were truly a breath of fresh air.

There are very few things better than standing on a terrace in the August sun, eating chips and slowly cooking in the heat. Well… maybe an away win for once would easily top it. However, believe it or not, Accrington isn’t really the promised land I have made it out to be thus far.

The staff at the Wham Stadium clearly weren’t prepared for the sheer number of fans who would be travelling to the first game of the 2016/17 season. By half time, drinks of any kind were totally sold out. This is hardly ideal in the intense heats and also quite irritating when you’ve queued for a good twenty minutes to be totally turned down. The kiosks also didn’t sell pies of any kind – outrageous really – and £2.50 for glorified oven chips is basically daylight robbery.

Personally, I don’t even want to talk about the state of the toilets, which comprised of half a dozen portaloos and four cubicles (none of which have working flushes) and after thousands of Rovers fans had made use of the facilities it wasn’t a pretty sight at all.

Overall, results aside, the trip to the Wham Stadium was a wonderful day out. It set the tone for League 2 football and if all the grounds this season are of a similar nature (perhaps with better toilets) I cannot wait to visit them.

Lizzie Robinson

Accrington Stanley vs Doncaster Rovers – Report

A brand new season, but the same old story at Doncaster Rovers…

  • For too long now, we have seen Rovers struggle to put their stamp on games. Darren Ferguson’s teams seem incapable of controlling proceedings and always look like conceding. The momentum shifts in this game were typical of his entire tenure at the club to date.
  • A golden opportunity to go in front early was squandered when Andy Williams hit his 2nd minute penalty with all the conviction of a Russian drug tester, and minutes later Rommy Boco slotted in to put Accrington ahead despite suspicions of offside.
  • Tommy Rowe took his goal well to bring us back into the contest, but that was completely undone when Matty Pearson took a pot shot from 30 yards and it somehow managed to squirm into the bottom corner. Debutant keeper Ross Etheridge failed to meet the bounce of the ball and was left flapping at thin air.
  • It was a day to forget for both goalies, Stanley’s Aaron Chapman having a calamitous afternoon. First he bundled John Marquis to the floor for a penalty after only 60 seconds, then he dropped a tame effort from Andy Williams into his own net to level the match at 2-2.
  • Chapman can count himself lucky this day didn’t turn out worse for him, guilty of a succession of bad moments throughout the game, redeemed only by his early penalty save from Williams but in truth he was lucky to go the right way and meet the striker’s weak attempt.
  • The story of goalkeeping woe saw its final chapter in injury time however, Sean McConville meeting a superb cross-field ball from substitute Chris Eagles, scything his shot across goal and past Etheridge, who should have done better.
  • How predictable it is becoming for Rovers to concede early and late. Ferguson needs to drill discipline into his players from minute one, instead of seeing lapses in concentration cost us time and time again. We just don’t know how to shut up shop, staying too open into the latter stages of matches.
  • The stubborn insistence on 3-5-2 continues to perplex. Last season we saw this formation deployed despite the personnel not being right for it, and due to a bad spate of injuries we are left in the same situation again. The manager needs to learn to adapt to the players he has available, not plough on with square pegs in round holes.
  • The biggest victim of this was Riccardo Calder. After an impressive pre-season, Calder struggled on the left hand side as he just cannot defend. He was beaten half a dozen times down the flank, but showed enough going forward to suggest he has a place in the team as a left winger.
  • The lack of pre-season minutes showed, an unfamiliar line-up playing like a group of strangers. They may have trained with us through the week, but Niall Mason and Jordan Houghton looked every bit the Saturday morning signings that they were, and will need more time with the squad before they can make a proper impact.
  • Whilst we lost through our own shortcomings, the officiating did not help. Sebastian Stockbridge utterly failed to control proceedings and his assistants were guilty of alarming inconsistency. Sadly we best get used to this standard of refereeing now we’re back in the basement tier.
  • Despite losing several key players from their remarkable promotion push last season, Accrington acquitted themselves well in this game and never gave up in the face of sustained pressure from Rovers. They showed that there will be no easy games in League Two, and our task to go straight back up will not be an easy one.

 

Winners

John Marquis – Probably our best player on the day, Marquis put himself about and held the ball up well. He also made sure the ball was in the net after Chapman had fumbled Williams’ shot over the line, preventing the officials from having to make a big judgement call.

Matty Blair – His pace was a constant threat to the Stanley back line, and despite concerns over his defensive capabilities he performed well at the back when called upon. Indeed it was sub Liam Mandeville who lost his man on that flank for Accrington’s late winner, rather than Blair.

John Coleman – The Stanley manager adapted to the game with his substitutions and made sure his side were able to bounce back when Rovers twice came from behind. The introduction of Chris Eagles proved crucial, the former Man Utd winger expertly picking out McConville for the winning goal.

Losers

Darren Ferguson – Has he learned anything over the summer? It was the same problems as always that cost us in this game. Yes, we have key players missing, but he is too headstrong when it comes to his formation and takes too long to change things.

James Coppinger – The legendary Copps could not cope with his responsibility in centre midfield. Another victim of the formation perhaps, but as team captain he needs to show more leadership to those around him on the pitch.

Rovers Fans – Not only did we have to suffer the performance of the team, but under the baking summer sun on an exposed terrace, there were more than a few red faces through sunburn at full time as well as due to the result.

Adam Stubbings

IN FERGIE WE TRUST?

Has Fergie learnt anything from last season?


Let’s not sugar coat this, Fergie can consider his tenure at Doncaster Rovers last season as an absolute failure. With just 6 games gone last season the Rovers board acted swiftly to axe Paul Dickov and give the team a realistic chance to turn the season around and challenge for promotion, instead we start the season a division lower.

Ferguson is lucky to still be in employment at Doncaster Rovers, and surely he realises that if he fails to get the results this season then it is over for the Scotsman. Personally, I will not accept anything less than 100 points, the League Two title and Aaron Taylor Sinclair to make 0 appearances for the club.

Although this sounds like a task that would be quite difficult for a team that went 17 games without a win last season which included games against all but one of the bottom 8 teams in League One, Ferguson has been making the right noises during the off-season period by securing the return of Tommy Rowe and Gary McSheffrey on permanent deals (more on this later), bringing in Ross Etheridge and Mathieu Baudry from Accrington Stanley and Leyton Orient respectively. Young talent also enters the squad in the form of Joe Wright and Tyler Garratt, highly respected and accomplished players Matty Blair and John Marquis have also joined the ranks along with non-league star Alfie Beestin.

These additions coupled with the retention of most of the squad from last season has been enough for pundits and the bookmakers alike to tip Fergie’s men to challenge the likes of Portsmouth for the League Two title. Sadly however, I don’t share the same sense of optimism and I do have to question whether Fergie has learnt anything from the implosion of last season?

Before I go any further, I probably should point out that I’m not writing this as someone who was against Fergie’s appointment or the sacking of Dickov (Hello, Mark Hughes), no in fact I wrote an article before Fergie was announced highlighting that he would have been my choice as well. I truly and honestly expected Fergie to be the man to lead Doncaster Rovers out of the mediocrity of League One – which truth be told he did, he just lead us in the wrong direction.

Obviously Fergie has been talking the talk in pre-season, signed some decent players for this level, kept arguably (and I use that word with caution) our best player at the club in Andy Williams and has said what fans wanted to hear in press conferences and fans meetings etc., but all this is starting to look and feel a little bit like the last two seasons. Players more than capable were brought in, the manager (then a Mr Dickov) was saying the right things in press conferences but on each occasion we couldn’t do anything more than accept mid-table mediocrity.


The lack of pre-season games has not given fans much time to see the action on the pitch, but even with the recent additions and our new injuries in pre-season the squad still looks very bare in the middle of the park. The noises coming out of the club seem to suggest that we will be using a combination of entering the loan market and using our development and young players as a solution. On the face of it, it doesn’t seem a bad idea but I probably only need to mention the names of Mitchell Lund and Lyndon Gooch as evidence that these solutions can have calamitous effects if you don’t build strength in depth. I fear that if this backfires on Fergie (again) it will be a blunder that would make Aaron Taylor Sinclair blush and point towards a season languishing in mid-table (or worse) of League Two.

The decision to bring back both Tommy Rowe and Gary McSheffrey on permanent deals is in my opinion a dubious decision. Whilst both players did shine towards the end of last season let us not forget that they were shining in a squad that couldn’t defeat a Colchester side that hadn’t won at home for 6 months and were 1-0 down to the Rovers going into the break, or even a Crewe side already relegated. Put simply, Habib Bamogo and Harry Worley would have been able to play in that squad and leave with ratings of 7 or above.

Tommy Rowe is certainly a player who knows both Leagues One and Two very well, but he failed to light up Glanford Park when loaned to Scunthorpe last season before being loaned to us, his career has been on a downward spiral since suffering an injury and breaking his leg in late 2014. We have to question realistically whether his 14 games for us last season were the last bit of shine in a darkening bulb, or whether it is the reignition of his career. As a club that finished the season relegated and not a single player out of contract, you do have to wonder why we have taken such a gamble and given Rowe a 3 year contract.

Onto McSheffrey, again someone else who we signed as a result of feeding off the scraps of local rivals Scunthorpe United. McSheffrey probably knows his best days when at Coventry are behind him and regardless of whether we win promotion or not, I do believe this season will be the start of a new era for McSheffrey as his career will take him into the lower depths of non-league football where he will probably continue playing until the age of 45. One thing McSheffrey does highlight however, is just how much we have fallen as a club, if you had told me 5 years ago that our salvation would lie in Gary McSheffrey I’d have probably told you where to stick it.


Finally, Ferguson has told the press recently that Coppinger will remain team captain because “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Now Harry Forrester (arguably our most technically gifted player last season) was shipped out for what I can only imagine was showing a lack of interest towards the manager. Curtis Main was dropped as a result of not making an impact after only a handful of sub appearances and made his way to Oldham and helped them to survive. Meanwhile, we watched our club suffer relegation despite being tipped to finish in the play-offs. We were relegated for the most part thanks to the run of 17 games without a win, now during this abysmal run we lacked character, fight and spirit, we needed a leader, a man to rise up from the ashes of defeat. When everyone looked at Coppinger to make the step from Club Legend to God amongst men his leadership proved as reliable as Aaron Taylor Sinclair. 

Maybe these are the ravings of a madman. But whether or not come May we’ll be celebrating promotion, the pre-season has thus far proved that not everything is going to be as straightforward as Fergie had hoped. This season will undoubtedly have highs and lows. If Fergie manages to deliver he may earn himself a place in Rovers folklore. Should he fail however, then he will only have himself to blame.