Mark Donnelly, our man on the road, takes a day away from last minute turmoil and has a laugh at his hometown club Donny.
Most people out there have probably read the title and thought, eh? What has that game got to do with Carlisle United, or in fact Keith Mincher? Well, when Mincher was a youth coach at Leeds, he was the chairman's choice to replace Eddie Gray as manager. However, the job eventually went to Doncaster Rovers manager Billy Bremner. There you go, perhaps the most tedious link of all time.
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Anyway, back to what the people want; football. Those who know me reasonably well will know that I cannot stand Doncaster Rovers. We get on about as well as Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. Therefore, you would be perfectly justified to ask why I was travelling almost 200 miles to watch them play. The simple answer being, after driving down to Stadium:MK to see that ultimately end in disappointment, I was suffering from football withdrawal symptoms, my last game being at Scunthorpe in December. A couple of friends we're travelling to Ashton Gate so I thought, why not?
Its a well-known fact that every buy has a crazy person on it, and on the Supporters Coach, we we're treated to an absolute belter of one. His name was Rodge, and he travels round the country spotting Eddie Stobart Lorries. He spent half an hour telling me tales of the lorry that holds up the big screen at Brunton Park. Fascinating.
Back to the football then, and upon arrival at Ashton Gate, we moved swiftly into the ground. The tickets had said the view may be restricted, but with the exception of one small corner of the pitch, the view was undisturbed. There was a new experience waiting when I sat down, the seats had no backs. We we're basically sat on a thin piece of plastic. And people think Brunton Park is bad!
The game was never going to be a classic, with both teams fighting it out at the bottom of the table, it was a proper relegation six pointer. Doncaster Rovers team of dodgy foreign imports (much like the DVDs shown on the coach), seemed to lack chemistry. Very few fans could name every player in the squad, having to refer to programmes and phones to check the squad. The standout player in this group of newbies is El Hadj-Diouf. He was Doncasters playmaker, with every move seeming to go through him. For the hosts, the impressive wingers, Albert Adomah and Yannick Bolasie we're the creative influence, and they we're expected to provide the spark in the Bristol attack. New signing Chris Wood featured up front, and was the main target of all Adomah and Bolasies balls.
The game started off at a brisk pace, with Bristol obviously keen to grab an early goal. Despite a string of early corners, it was Doncaster who had the first good chance of the game. A cross was flicked on by Billy Sharp, but James Hayter was slow to react, and his shot was claimed easily by ex-England stopper David James. If he had got a little more power into the shot, the ball would have nestled in the back of the net.
City however, took the lead shortly after. Cole Skuse managed to force his way to the corner flag, and put an inch perfect cross, that landed straight on Chris Woods head. Wood was given too much space, and could easily divert his header past Button in the Rovers goal.
The games main turning point came shortly after. Again, Skuse forced his way through the defence. Habib Beye charged from the penalty spot to the corner flag, and challenged Skuse recklessly. In doing so, he earned himself a straight card, much to the dismay of the Rovers faithful. From the resulting free kick, Kalifa Cisse got his head to the ball, and placed his header past Button, to give Bristol a well-earned two goal cushion.
Despite being two goals down, the Doncaster fans we're a credit to their club. For 20 minutes from the start of the second half, there we're continuous chants of Dean Saunders Barmy Army. This may have spurred the ten men of Doncaster on, and they started the second half the brighter of the two sides, although they crated very little.
The game became more interesting on 75 minutes. Instead of playing pretty football and passing the ball around the area as they had done for the previous 75 minutes, Rovers pumped a ball into the area. Diouf was left unmarked, and, for the third time that afternoon, the ball was headed into the left hand corner of the goal.
Rovers tried to get an equaliser, but the Bristol defence held strong and earned a vital three points in the relegation battle. The news got even worse for Doncasters travelling masses, when they discovered that Coventry, and several other teams around them had won, gaining the momentum in the battle to avoid the drop.
Even the most optimistic Doncaster fan must think that the drop is inevitable now. With trips to Southampton and West Ham still to come, opportunities to pick up points may be few and far between. The squad has a good range of individual talents, but the players just don't seem to gel together. If talismanic striker Billy Sharp is lost in January (by the time this article is posted, his future will be decided. Article written 26th January) they will lack any real firepower up front. Goals very rarely come from anywhere else in the team, so keeping hold of him will be vital in the survival battle.
Back to Carlisle next, and my next away day is Hartlepool United on the 28th January.
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Posted in Outdoor Activities Post Date 04/06/2018