Well, at least we didn’t lose..

Doncaster Rovers – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

I suppose we should be happy with a draw really given our recent forays at the Keepmoat Stadium.  Indeed, given the balance of play and chances, we should be grateful irrespective of recent trends at this particular ground.  Frustrating though that we let in another sloppy goal (okay, we scored one too) – but all in all, a good point I’m thinking.

We remain in eleventh place, and all in all, it’s not too bad.  Despite Billy describing us as ‘leggy’ on Tuesday he elected to go with the same side for the third game in a row, which is quite unusual – and perhaps for the second time in a week he might be ruminating on whether or not he perhaps should have injected some fresh faces into the starting eleven.

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Anderson    McKenna    Moussi    Cohen

The early exchanges were fairly inconsequential, it was the home side that eventually got close with the ever-dangerous Billy Sharp finding Woods who’d got the wrong side of Morgan, fortunately Guy Moussi was on hand to make the block at the expense of a corner.  Donny had posed plenty of warning and finally were starting to find ways through the Forest defence.

We did come to life though, Lewis broke forward and crossed towards Dex, who couldn’t get the ball under control to fire a shot and eventually had to settle for a corner.  From the corner Anderson knocked the ball to Lewis who struck powerfully from the edge of the area forcing Sullivan into a decent save.  Which was inconsequential as the offside flag was up!

Just as we were starting to show signs of recovery we took the lead – Donny had had more possession but the Reds were looking dangerous.  We won a corner which was taken by McKenna to the far post, Anderson headed it back across goal, Moussi repeated the exercise from the other post finding Blackstock a yard out with seemingly all the time in the world to fire home from close range.

Alas, just as we were reflecting on the awful defending for our goal – we gifted them a goal in return.  A dubious freekick was awarded to the home side and Forest didn’t get themselves set for it at all, Oster took it quickly finding Lockwood strolling merrily behind the Forest defence to head the ball past Lee Camp who could do nothing.  Very reminiscent of the goal Sheffield United scored against us.

The Reds put together their best move just before half time, a sweeping move from midfield saw Dex and Anderson combine to get the ball forward to Lewis, he unleashed a decent left footed shot from a good position – which was saved by Sullivan for a corner.  Lewis could’ve passed it on to Cohen but well, I think most players would’ve taken a shot.

As the second half got underway it was ebbing very much with the home side – Morgan allowing Sharp to cross to Hayter whose header was only just wide.  Sharp again was at the centre of our troubles, turning deftly to get beyond Morgan but seeing his shot blocked by Chambers.  Cohen and Bertrand picked up tame bookings as the home bench and fans seemed to appeal for everything and the ref generally gave it.

With around twenty minutes gone Cohen had had a nasty collision with Adam Lockwood and was withdrawn for Tyson, holding his shoulder/arm gingerly.  Tys was immediately in the thick of it, getting on the end of a fortunate run of the ball and getting a shot in forcing a corner from a good save by Sullivan.

The substitute was again close from a freekick, striking it low and powerful across the face of goal, with Chambers at the front of a pack of Forest players trying to get a touch to convert it to a goal.  The game descended to real end-to-end stuff as both sides, to their credit, kicked on to try to get the full three points.

An awful clearance from the Moose fell invitingly for Mark Wilson whose drive looked to have given Doncaster the lead but crash off the crossbar.  At the other end McGoldrick, on for McGugan, turned and shot but it was fairly tame and an easy save for Sullivan.  Another good opportunity came with a number of Reds in the box but Anderson’s cross let us down.

Third sub Dele appeared to have given McGoldrick a good opportunity but some good defending denied him the chance – it was the home side that would have the final say, and Billy Sharp is probably still kicking himself now.  A delicious cross from James O’Connor found the striker on the back stick whose header headed toward the top corner, but just wide.

All in all, a draw was probably borderline good result, borderline we should be pleased to have it – underpinned with that slight annoyance that we did have the opportunities to grab what probably would have been an undeserved win.  D’you know what, I could have lived with that!

Billy was downbeat about our first half performance and the manner of concession – and talked again about being ‘leggy’ (so why not change it, Bill?) – he didn’t say much about loan signings, but as with us was pleased that we had the international break to get some clearly needed rest into the players.  I’m anticipating a quiet couple of weeks on the blog!

How a football parasite chooses his host..

Of course, whether or not loveable buffoon and cash-hoover Sven Goran Eriksson ends up resuming his trail of farcical interactions with midlands football teams remains to be seen. Paulo Sousa bit the bullet after an admittedly disappointing start to his Foxes stewardship, with City at the bottom of the Championship after nine games.

Martin O’Neill too inevitably features on the rumour mill as he does here too, shortly after he left Villa he was supposedly about to supplant Billy. Of course, many Reds fans harbour a desire to see him and Robbo return to the club – as for me, I’m quite happy with Billy, and stability.

I don’t trouble myself with goings on down the A46 very often but well, things might just be getting interesting at the Walkers Stadium…

Doncaster Rovers vs. Forest preview..

The Keepmoat – surely my least favourite away trip, whilst the state of Belle Vue gave Donny every need to renew their home, I can’t bring myself to like new grounds, coupled with the traffic trying to escape the place and – of course, perhaps most importantly – the fact we don’t seem to be able to get either a performance or a result whenever we visit there!  Other than that it’s fine!

Forest are likely to make changes to their line-up, although with Rovers being very much on the passing-side side of the footballing spectrum perhaps a similar tactic to that deployed so well against Swansea might not be a bad plan.  I would expect to see Wils come in for Chambers who had a shaky night on Tuesday, Earnie remains sidelined so suspect Dex will be leading the line.  Or perhaps Adebola after an impressive turn from the bench midweek?

Our hosts have a few defensive injuries, with Martis the latest player to join Chambers and Thomas on the treatment table – aside from that Sean O’Driscoll has no other absentees.  Doncaster have lost their last two games – both away from home – at QPR and Coventry – and haven’t won in their last three.

They have the same number of points as us, but a poorer goal difference – but of course, as we well know from our many encounters with the South Yorkshire side over the last few years – they’re not to be underestimated.  Coppinger – a winger I’ve oft wondered whether we should make a move for – is their top scorer with four goals so far (admittedly three of which came in one game).

Billy Sharp is someone who generally does well against us too, netting against us in both fixtures last season and indeed, someone who has been a thorn in our side regardless of which shirt he’s wearing!

It’s good to hear positive words from Billy prior to the match, and indeed – that the ‘hoodoo’ of a trip to the Keepmoat is in his mind too whether he buys into that kind of thing or not.  So a freshened up team, eager to prove our hosts don’t have some kind of hold over us – sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Certainly that trudge through the swamp to get to the coach parking area would become no chore at all if we get to see us claim three points.  I think there’s a reasonable chance of that, but Billy needs to tactically out-think O’Driscoll and the boys need to perform – and, dare I say, it’s about time the strikers started weighing in with some goals, too…

I’m hopeful of this, but can’t help but fear the worst as has been my conditioning from those unprofitable trips up the A614 in the past, but I do have faith in Billy to pull something out the bag.  Here’s hoping!


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