Reasons to Believe for Rovers
We’ve all been through a lot this season.
Granted, that heading might seem surprising but please bear with me.
Earlier today Doncaster Rovers tasted yet another defeat, going down 2-1 at Bradford City. That’s a fourth loss in a row, a 12th game without victory in the league and leaves us almost certain to drop into the relegation zone on Tuesday night when the two sides within reach of us, Blackpool and Oldham, meet each other. It all sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it?
But it doesn’t have to be, and here’s why.
We’ve Scored a Goal
Okay, so what was by all accounts another lacklustre, toothless performance, but at long last the strikers have combined and served up not only a shot on target, but a goal. Nathan Tyson netted his 7th of the season and surely this must be used throughout the week to boost the confidence of the players. The mental side of the game has let us down royally in this awful run but after almost four full games without a goal, and two without even a shot on target, managing to find the back of the net could be crucial. We pushed on to get another for the few minutes remaining at Bradford and if we take that momentum into the next game it could serve as a catalyst to go on and finally end this losing run.
Still In Our Hands
The games are running out. There are just 10 matches left now for us to save our season, but a gander at those fixtures highlights something incredibly important if we are to avoid the drop.
Peterborough (H) Colchester (A) Blackpool (H) Rochdale (A) Bury (A) Wigan (H) Chesterfield (A) Coventry (H) Crewe (A) Burton (H)
Of these 10 matches, three are against sides in the bottom four. Darren Ferguson must drill it into his squad that these are the most crucial games, and anything less than a win will see us seriously struggling to survive. If we can win them all, that’s 9 of the 12 or so points needed to hit 52 points, the number that people usually point to to guarantee safety.
Taking out home games with League One’s leading two sides, Burton and Wigan, that leaves three matches against sides in the bottom half, plus meetings with Rochdale and play off chasing Coventry. Two of those five sides are woefully out of form, with the Sky Blues and Peterborough visiting the Keepmoat, so a minimum of six points from these five games is a must. It’s worth mentioning also that club talisman James Coppinger, badly missing through injury at present, should be fit enough for the last half dozen games of this run-in and his return could bring the spark back to Fergie’s ailing team.
It is now or never for Rovers, but finding a way to win enough of the remaining games is not insurmountable.
In addition, despite going on one of the worst runs in our history, and playing some truly atrocious football in that time, we still are somehow out of the relegation zone. Yes, that will change with a Blackpool win or two-goal Oldham win in midweek, but it remains the case. All of our rivals in the dogfight also lost today so it could yet be a case of just doing enough to ensure we are the 5th worst team in the division, much like when we fluked survival from the Championship under Sean O’Driscoll in 2010/11.
Attention now turns to our next fixture, the home match with Peterborough next Saturday. One week to prepare the players for the second meeting of the season with Fergie’s old boys, a club in freefall themselves. When the Posh tore us apart in the rain at London Road in one of the manager’s first games in charge, Peterborough were a totally different proposition. They were on their way to a place in the top 6, and Graham Westley could do no wrong for a long spell but the screw has turned now, and they have slid to 16th place after a miserable run that, whilst not as bad as ours, is still pretty bad. They haven’t won any of their last seven games since a win at Chesterfield, and that is their only win in eleven. Granted, that’s one more win than Rovers in the same period, but they are one place above us in the form table (we are dead last of course) and they chucked a 2-0 lead at home to Port Vale this afternoon to lose to two late goals. We need to use this to our advantage and kick them while they are down, picking ourselves up in the process. Of all the opponents you could pick to play at this point, we probably have the ideal fixture.
So yes, we lost again today. But it is far from over, and we can still get over the line.