Tag Archives: match report

Doncaster Rovers 1-1 Preston North End; 250 word match report

After the debacle against Port Vale at the weekend, Paul Dickov got the reaction he was asking for as Rovers grabbed a well-earned point against Preston.

The big talking point was the early exit of Rob Jones (who it appears is destructible after all), replaced by Liam Wakefield after picking up what looked to be another neck injury in the first minute.

But the makeshift defence, which included a game at centre-half for Reece Wabara, held out well with Marc De Val running the show from midfield and James Coppinger showing glimpses of his brilliance throughout.

The first half passed by with Coppinger the only player to go close to a goal with a shot from the angle deflected wide and a couple of long range efforts flying over, but it remained goalless.

It was going to take something special to break the deadlock and that’s what Chris Humphrey did on the hour, against the run of play. The winger smashed a superb volley past Jed Steer from 25 yards into the top corner to give the visitors the lead after a corner wasn’t cleared.

Despite Rovers pushing forward it appeared to just be one of the nights when Coppinger, Kyle Bennett and Cedric Evina all saw chances go begging as time ticked away for Dickov’s side.

However, Nathan Tyson came off the bench to replace Furman and the striker poked the ball home after a goalmouth scramble two minutes into added time to send the Keepmoat faithful home happy.

by Chris Donald

York City 0-1 Doncaster Rovers; 250 word match report

So, if it didn’t already need confirming, Doncaster Rovers and Harry Forrester do actually “score when they want”.

In one of the least interesting games of football you’re ever likely to experience, Rovers scraped through to the second round of the League Cup in dramatic, if not fortuitous fashion. Continue reading York City 0-1 Doncaster Rovers; 250 word match report

Double Headache; Rovers 0-1 Crawley Town / Belles 0-4 Arsenal

Selling the fanzine over the course of a season gets you many things; sunburn, pneumonia, ignored, to name but three, but it also gets you an insight into the mood of supporters. Standing outside the ground for an hour and a half watching the day’s attendance drift by you are able to gain a sense of the fans’ prevailing mood. Saturday, was the first time in a year I had sold popular STAND to generally happy people. Yorkshire folk aren’t known for showing their emotions, but still, the overall optimism and enthusiasm brought from starting a new campaign with back to back wins was clearly evident.

Of course, for an insight into the mood of fans you could always look to the main messageboard, but these days online opinion only seems to deal in extremes. If you wanted to fashion a barometer of the prevalent post-match mood on the VSC forum for example all you would need to do would be get hold of a metronome, label one side ‘Gleeful Abandon’ and the other ‘Doom-laden Anger’, and set it going for the season. Check back intermittently, it’d be right most of the time.

By the end of this game moods would have swung once more on the forum; ‘Disgraceful’, ‘A day to shame Doncaster’, ‘The end of the world as we know it’… only one of those is made up. And it had started relatively well. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie, it had started with referee Trevor Kettle showing he was here to let the game flow in his own inimitable style, the Hoover Dam to football’s Colorado River. Inside two minutes Kettle was soaking up the boos for refusing to restart play until Kyle Bennett went off for treatment, treatment that he neither wanted nor needed. Classic Kettle. Before the quarter-hour mark he had been called, by the folk around me, a prat, a pillock, a clown, a wazzock, and my own favourite, a dumpling. And that’s just the repeatable ones.

Anyway, against a backdrop of the lot calling the Kettle slack, and 100 Crawley fans flying in the face of irony  to chant about empty seats, Rovers were enjoying a bright enough start. David Cotterill had whipped in a good low cross for Chris Brown to turn goalwards only to be denied by a good save, and down the other end the back four of Paul Quinn, Jamie McCombe, Rob Jones and Tommy Spurr looked encouragingly solid. This was my first viewing of Jones, big sod isn’t he? If he weren’t a centre-half he’d be the unofficial bouncer of a village pub, keeping the peace without word or action from his permanent spot propped up at the bar, all for a free bag of pork scratchings every other night and the occasional lock-in.

For the first half an hour the better chances continued to go Rovers’ way; Spurr arriving just too late to convert a Brown cross. Billy Paynter controlling well, but firing wide from the edge of the box. Paynter would have a seemingly easier chance soon after as Cotterill put in another cross from the right, but Paynter, unmarked, jumped too early and when he did meet the delivery, his header barely had enough on it to carry itself wide.

I’d been trying since kick-off to workout who Crawley reminded me of, and ten minutes before the break it came to me, it was every side Rovers faced at home in the 1998-99 season. Effective, organised, slowly sounding us out, taking so much time over set-pieces and dead-balls they were in danger of delaying the kick-off of the Belles game. In the closing ten minutes they began to threaten, a few chanced long-range efforts just the wrong side of the woodwork, a squandered one-on-one break. I tweeted at half-time that they “look like they’ll score if we don’t”. It’s rare that I get this stuff right.

In the second half Rovers would offer little to nothing, and players and fans alike would start to get frustrated. Brown injured himself haring back to foul Sergio Torres and had to be replaced by Jamie Coppinger. The introduction of Copps brought a great cheer from the Rovers fans, but with Brown off the Rovers attack had lost its focal point and they would struggle to threaten from their on in with nothing on offer in the final third. Paynter’s second half presence was minimal. He was a minimalist Paynter. He was Piet Mondrian.

And as the game went on, and Rovers failed to create opportunities or contain their opponents the unrest in the stands increased, the anger seemingly proportional to the unfamiliarity of Crawley’s name as a Football League team. Without any consideration to the pattern of play on the field, or the relative strength of the side’s, the general perception was that we should be beating sides of Crawley Town’s ilk. It was all a little hypocritical from those who support ‘the likes of Doncaster’. The bloke next to me was particularly vexed, driven to some obscure similes and metaphors; an injury to a Crawley player was “like the Jungle Book”, whilst the visitors were being afforded by Kettle “enough time to do a paint by numbers”. I lost a good three minutes of the second half pondering that. Why paint-by-numbers? Are they particularly time-consuming?

The inevitable came three minutes from time. Josh Simpson’s low drive, turned just inside the far post by the outstretched leg of Nick Ajose. As it hit the net, the heavens opened, and a large number of Rovers fans streamed for the exits in the downpour. On the balance of second half play it was as much as the visitors deserved, but was it really the disaster it was made out to be? Crawley were better organised and more resilient than Rovers previous two League One opponents, they’d done their homework, as shown by the little space afforded Bennett throughout. Currently Doncaster have very few options beyond what takes the field at kick-off. In short, in a season of regrouping, and reassessment, these sorts of defeats will happen.  We’ve lost to a solid third tier side, and I’ll wager we’ll do it again before the season’s end.

Defeat is a feeling which has sadly been all too regularly experienced by the Doncaster Belles this season. Sadly few Rovers fans stayed on for their FAWSL fixture with Arsenal, which followed an hour later, the double-header experiment perhaps offering up more football than most Doncastrians were prepared to take in. Perhaps it may have been different had Rovers won, perhaps it may have been different if the Keepmoat tannoy actually worked and folk could have been reminded that they were allowed to stay. Who knows, but hopefully more can be encouraged to stay and back the Belles at the next double-header in a fortnight.

What this particular FAWSL game did highlight was the disparity that exists between the top and bottom of an eight team division. The Belles, sitting at the foot of the table, had scrabbled together the close season funds for a single marquee signing, Sue Smith, and she was sadly unable to exert much influence on the young Doncaster side from her position in the seat behind me, the former England international having been ruled out for the year with a knee injury before the season had begun. Arsenal in comparison fielded a starting XI with over 620 full international caps between them, and they’d bring on an additional 144 from the bench before the game was out in the form of Faye White and Jennifer Beattie. The difference was striking. The Belles’ had 43 full international caps in their line-up, 39 of which belonged to Aine O’Gorman.

This is a young Belles side and they will have learnt much from facing a side with the calibre of Arsenal, who looked in control throughout the fixture. The Gunners’ seemingly did what they had to do without overly exerting themselves, and with the quality they had at their disposal the last thing the Belles could afford to do was make soft mistakes. Unfortunately that’s exactly what they did inside the first ten minutes; the unfortunate Lyndsey Cunningham caught in possession on the left and two passes later Jordan Nobbs had slotted it home. Arsenal would double their lead in similar fashion; Victoria Williams losing her footing in midfield and via Kim Little and Kelly Smith, Nobbs struck again. And by half-time they’d added a third; Katie Chapman finishing from Niamh Fahey’s through-ball.

After the break, the Belles settled, the pressure perhaps off them, and played some neat, short, passing football at times, but it lacked the incisiveness to really trouble Arsenal in the final third, and but for an effort from Millie Bright that was deflected just wide their attempts were restricted to long-range shots, most notably from O’Gorman, that failed to trouble Emma Byrne. Kim Little wrapped up the scoring for Arsenal with a neat finish from the edge of the area that left Mary Earps with no chance and drew applause from the few hundred in the East Stand. Perhaps, playing their home games in front of a pre-season friendly like atmosphere isn’t doing the Belles any motivational favours. Your home ground can’t be perceived a tough place to visit when by far the loudest shout of the game is one from the referee proclaiming “Advantage!”

Post-match manager John Buckley lamented the fact that if Belles had a little more money at their disposal they could become more competitive in the FAWSL by tempting the fringe players away from Arsenal for a regular start. It’s hard to disagree with that hypothesis, it wouldn’t bring the Belles a title challenge, but it would certainly put them right back in amongst the pack. The young Belles side have much to be proud of in their efforts to bridge the gap, but continually having to hold your hands up and acknowledge a better, more strongly backed team can’t be easy. The run of defeats is now surely starting to tread that fine line between character-building and morale-breaking, but with limited support from the town and the public, all the Belles can do in the face of such strength in opposition is keep on keeping on

FAWSL: Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-2 Liverpool

Disappointment for the Doncaster Rovers Belles on Saturday, as two great strikes from visitors Liverpool proved the difference between the two FAWSL sides. The 2-0 defeat drops the Belles back to the foot of the table as the League pauses for a mid-season break for international and Olympic fixtures

In front of a crowd of 600 at the Keepmoat both sides forced chances from corners in the opening five minutes. Liverpool were first to threaten as Michelle Evans’ dead ball delivery was only half-cleared, but Cheryl Foster’s driven shot flew just beyond the angle of the bar and post. At the other end a good ball into the far post found Leandra Little in space, but unfortunately the defender could only pull her shot wide of the goal.

The Belles were left to rue that chance just a few minutes later as Lynda Shepherd fired in a spectacular goal to open the scoring; the ball dropping for Shepherd almost thirty yards out and she struck an unstoppable first time half-volley right into the top corner of Mary Earps’ net.

Midway through the half came the Belles’ best chance to level the scores; Alyssa Lagonia, who looked most composed on the ball throughout, hitting an incredible 40 yard through ball to split the defence and release Aine O’Gorman in the left channel, but O’Gorman, cutting inside could only drive her shot against the under side of the bar and the visitors managed to clear.

Though the Belles seemed to be faring better in terms of possession and territory Liverpool remained a constant threat on the break and almost found a second goal as Foster’s cross from the right was prodded just the right side of her own goal-post by Lucy Sowerby. At the other end the Belles were starting to create opportunities as half-time approached, firstly as Millie Bright fired over, and then on the stroke of half-time as an attempted clearance cannoned back towards goal off O’Gorman, but Nicola Davies was able to make the save.

The second-half began in the midst of a heavy downpour which sent the crowd scurrying back up the seats for shelter, and those who turned their back on the game to escape the rain missed another fantastic strike from the visitors. Chloe Jones twenty-five yard strike flying into the roof of the net, but fortunately for the Belles the referee’s whistle had already sounded for a foul. The Belles almost took advantage of the let-off as O’Gorman looked to get onto a ball over the top of the Liverpool defence, however under pressure from the defence the Belles winger could only fire wide.

On the hour mark though Liverpool struck again, a decisive goal which seemed to take the wind from the Belles sails and effectively wrap up the win for the visitors. Katie Brussell cutting in from the right flank before curling an unstoppable strike beyond Earps to make it 2-0. Though there was little the Belles ‘keeper could do about the two goals she did manage to keep her side in the game in the closing half hour with a couple of key saves from Foster, Kelly Jones and Emily Gielnik.

The Belles struggled to find any momentum on which to launch an attack of their own; substitute Beth England yelling “Oh f**k off!” at an over-hit through-ball as it sailed past her head proving something of an effective summary of the Belles final half hour. Their only telling chance came in injury time as England found space to get in an effort on goal, but Davies was equal to it and managed to preserve the 2-0 win for her side.

Belles line-up (4-4-2); Mary Earps; Lucy Sowerby, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Naomi Chadwick; Alyssa Lagonia (Beth England), Katie Holtham, Kasia Lipka, Aine O’Gorman (Julie-Ann Russell); Jess Sigsworth (Tanya Oxtoby), Millie Bright

FAWSL Continental Cup: Birmingham City 2-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles FAWSL Continental Cup sojourn is over after defeat in their final group game away at Birmingham City. A goal in each half from Eni Aluko and Jodie Taylor proved enough to win it for the Blues who go on to face Lincoln in the semi-finals.

Though the Belles had the first effort on goal through a Jess Sigsworth shot which flew just over it would be the home side who dominated the game. Indeed Doncaster would have goalkeeper Mary Earps to thank for keeping them in the game, the keeper making a great stop to her left to deny Taylor early on, the first of many. It took a good challenge from Leandra Little to stop Taylor getting in on goal again, whilst Earps was on hand once more to deny Rachel Williams.

At the other end the Belles were struggling to create clear opportunities and so it wasn’t too surprising as Birmingham went ahead on the half hour mark, Aluko breaking into the area to drill a low shot past Earps. Doncaster’s best chance of an equaliser came just before the break as Kasia Lipka slid a neat pass into the path of Aine O’Gorman, but the Irish international fired wide.

After the break normal service resumed as Birmingham pushed for a second goal; Rachel Unitt could only redirect a Karen Carney free-kick wide of the goal, whilst Earps made another excellent stop down to her left to deny Williams. Eventually though the Blues did get their second goal, a long ball from Emily Westwood catching out the Belles back-line and Taylor managed to hold off the recovering challenges to slot past Earps for 2-0.

Though chances were fleeting, Doncaster didn’t give up on finding a consolation and almost found one as Sigsworth intercepted a stray pass and hit a long-range effort which didn’t quite dip enough to fall beneath Marie Hourihan’s crossbar. That was to prove as close as the Belles came to taking anything from the game, as Birmingham held out for the win as they continue their pursuit of the treble.

Belles line-up: Mary Earps; Leandra Little, Lyndsey Cunningham, Tanya Oxtoby, Naomi Chadwick (Shelby Hills); Alyssa Lagonia, Kasia Lipka, Katie Holtham, Aine O’Gorman (Bethany England); Millie Bright (Julie-Ann Russell), Jessica Sigsworth

FAWSL: Lincoln Ladies 1-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Hard earned, hard fought and a long time coming, but the Doncaster Rovers Belles gained their first points of the 2012 FAWSL campaign with a 2-1 victory over Lincoln Ladies.

The Belles had an early opportunity to take the lead against the run of play at Ashby Avenue as Jess Sigsworth latched onto a ball over the top, but unfortunately the forward’s first touch was heavy, and Lincoln ‘keeper Nicola Hobbs was able to come out and gather.

Doncaster looked like they would rue that chance too as the hosts took the lead just a few minutes later; Lucy Staniforth’s corner from the left finding Daly at the far post to head beyond Mary Earps and into the net. Bouyed by their opener Lincoln continued to press and almost doubled their lead soon after as a sweeping move saw Collette McCallum played in on goal, but Earps was alert and out well to thwart the attack with a good close range save.

As the match approached the half hour mark the Belles finally began to asert themselves on the game; Aine O’Gorman turned her marker inside out on the byline before drilling the ball across goal, forcing Hobbs to turn it behind for a corner. And from the set-piece O’Gorman picked out captain Katie Holtham, but her header bounced up over the bar.

Balls into the box would be the key to the Belles affecting a fantastic turnaround shortly after as they went from 1-0 down to 2-1 in front within the space of a minute. Firt Alyssa Lagonia made space on the right, pulling back for Lucy Sowerby, and the right-back’s cross was met by Mille Bright, the forward beating Hobbs to the ball to turn the ball home for the equaliser. And straight from the kick-off O’Gorman and Sigsworth pressured Lincoln to force a corner, and O’Gorman’s perfect far-post delivery was bundled over the line at the far post by Holtham.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the Belles spent the second half on the back foot as Lincoln pressed for an equaliser, but a fantastic rearguard display meant that despite much home pressure Lincoln struggled to create genuine chances. A free-kick from Staniforth which was turned behind the near post by Earps at full-length being the closest they came until injury time. With just a minute of added time to go Lincoln thought they had equalised as the ball was turned in from a goalmouth scramble, but the whistle had already gone for handball and the goal was ruled out to ensure a much-needed 2-1 win for the Belles.

Belles line-up (4-4-1-1): Earps; Sowerby, Cunningham, Little, Chadwick (Oxtoby); Lagonia (Russell), Holtham, Lipka, O’Gorman (England); Bright; Sigsworth

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