It was a difficult summer for Doncaster Rovers, so many players left and we saw no less than eleven players brought in. Old legends at the Keepmoat Stadium such as James O’Connor left for Derby, Brian Stock moved to Burnley and eight years into his Doncaster career James Coppinger left to join former boss Sean O’Driscoll at Forest, albeit on loan. El Hadji Diouf, James Hayter, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird and George Friend also moved on pastures new.
However we have seen the arrival of Rob Jones, Jamie McCombe, Paul Quinn, James Harper, David Cotterill, Dave Syers, Robbie Blake, Billy Paynter and Ian Hume. Although Rovers have a small squad for this season we can only hope and pray that we are not hit by injuries that have plagued our squads in the last couple of seasons, although Shelton Martis is still sidelined.
This season has already proved to be unclear on what we would go onto judge as success, but with the likes of Willie McKay and his ‘experiment’ no more at Doncaster Rovers, a good feeling has resurfaced around the Keepmoat Stadium despite relegation last season. In fact I spent numerous occasions this summer sat outside my front door waiting for my We Are Going Up Allan Johnstone Paint Trophy with excitement in my mind towards the game that weekend!
Nevertheless the season kicked off in good spirits as Rovers travelled down to Walsall and romped to a 3-0 win with goals from Chris Brown, Kyle Bennet and a 40 yard lob from David Cotterill in his first league game for the club. Despite winning this game comfortably, the Rovers were in truth nothing special that day, we didn’t look glorious on the ball and spent much of the match pinned back by Walsall. However our physical dominance and organisation proved enough to defend for long periods before winning the ball back, going up the other end of the pitch and doing the business.
The next game followed a similar pattern; we went down to an average Bury side and were lucky to come out on top, which probably would not have happened if Bury hadn’t been down to ten men late in the second half. Chris Brown and Kyle Bennet came to the rescue that day as well, and despite not playing greatly, Rovers had two wins from as many games and the season looked like it would be a colourful one.
Unfortunately we couldn’t muster three wins on the trot as we were undone by Crawley, who proved that there are much tougher opposition in this division than Bury and Walsall. The performance was not significantly worse however and Rovers were only beaten by a late deflected goal.
The following week saw the club in in the second round of the League Cup against Championship side Hull City at home, and it looked like the Doncaster contingent should have stayed at home as Hull went 2-0 up inside 20 minutes. However Dean Saunders men proved that we can make a fight out of this season and pulled it back to 2-2 before Dave Syers found the net to secure the win late in injury time. Its very rare Rovers score in injury time to win a game and its even rarer we come from 2-0 down to do it, so credit to the Rovers for that passionate performance which gives us something to gloat about until we meet our East Yorkshire friends again.
The only other game we played was the following Saturday against then-league leaders Yeovil on their home soil. It had been a busy transfer deadline day with James Coppinger moving on but the club had to dust itself down and concentrate on their football. The main talking point was James Hayter who left Doncaster on a free last season to join Yeovil and he looked in fine form already for his new employers this campaign.
Almost as if it was written Hayter – at only 5’8 – managed to weave in-between Rovers six foot plus centre backs to head home against his former side. He showed no emotion in the celebration and ran back to the half way line as if he had missed, although the truth is he was showing respect to his former club, and for this I have the utmost respect for him. Yeovil added a second in the closing minutes before Billy Paynter netted his first goal for the Rovers this season, but it was all too little too late and we left the game with a seven hour journey back home and nothing to show for it.
We did have a game for Oldham planned at home but due to the Latics having three international players, they had the right to postpone the game. This may be considered a joke by some because it will create a fixture pile up, and if Doncaster were receive injuries due to this and can’t field an XI for the rearranged fixture, we won’t have the grounds to call a postponement.
However that leaves the club with six points from four games and a game in hand above everyone else. All is not yet lost and a few good results in the next five or six matches will pin the side right back up into the mix for promotion and the play-offs.
In Rovers We Trust.
Written by Lee Croft, We Are Going Up’s Doncaster Rovers blogger
Lee tweets at @mr1croft