Rovers Round-Up: 15/11
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
Spoils Shared On Derby Day
It was so very nearly a day to remember for all of us on Saturday as the Sky cameras descended on Lakeside for our first meeting with fierce local rivals Rotherham in 10 years. Rodney Kongolo’s cross, turned in to his own goal by Millers captain Richard Wood, looked to have secured three massive points until Kieffer Moore’s equaliser deep into stoppage time snatched a draw for the visitors. I had said shortly after the full time whistle that this would look like a decent point on reflection, and days later it is starting to feel that way after a plucky performance in which we rode our luck at times but worked tirelessly, particularly after going in front in the second half, to grind out a result against a side pushing for the Play Offs.
Of course, in the moment it was a real gut punch, especially against Rotherham, and I’m grateful for those Sky cameras for zooming right in on Moore during his animated celebration, cutting off the look of pure anger and disgust I was expressing stood at the front of the South Stand in the wake of that goal. Rovers sit 16th in the table now, a position we’d all be satisfied with come May I’m sure, but showing that we aren’t quite living up to our potential, and the tightness of the entire division even at this stage, a third of the way through the campaign, means we have more than a slight inkling to look up the league ruing missed opportunities. If we had held on on Saturday, we’d be just four points shy of the Top 6 now, and that’s before you think back to late goals that have cost us points against the likes of Rochdale and Shrewsbury.
On the plus side though, with all that in mind plus the fact we have won four of our last seven games in all (proper) competitions, then there is plenty to be optimistic about going into the next spell of games.
The month rounds out with three games in a week starting on Saturday, all against teams that will be tough to beat. Back-to-back away games in the North West beckon, with Fleetwood our next opponents and then Wigan three days later. Recent history suggests we shouldn’t expect wins from these games, but we did put in an excellent away performance at Plymouth not too long ago and plundered six goals in the FA Cup at Ebbsfleet in our last away trip. Of course, these games will be a much sterner test in terms of quality, but we surely owe the ‘Cod Army’ their first taste of defeat on home soil against us, if only for the alarmingly low quality fish and chips on offer outside the ground.
Uwe Rosler’s side have only won one of their last six league games despite sitting just outside the Play Offs, but Tuesday’s hosts Wigan boast an altogether more robust and intimidating set of results of late. Six points clear in the top two, unbeaten in seven League One games and yet to taste defeat at the DW Stadium in 2017/18, the Latics are clearly one of the best sides in the division and it will be very difficult for us to get a win here, but Fergie’s Rovers have had an ability to surprise us every now and then by pulling an unlikely rabbit out of the hat in these circumstances. Their last defeat at home was in the Championship, to Aston Villa back in March, but we haven’t lost any of the four meetings between the two sides this century, and last time out comfortably dispatched the soon-to-be League One Champions 3-1 at the Keepmoat when they were on a tremendous 20-game unbeaten run, and we were hurtling towards relegation without a win in 17 dire outings. So you never know.
Iron Await In FA Cup
Thanks to a stunning strike (seriously, pick that out) from Hakeeb Adelakun, last night we found out that it will be cross-border rivals Scunthorpe who come to the Keepmoat in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup. This presents a shot at redemption for Rovers after a desperately disappointing 1-0 loss in the league fixture there back in September. Through pouring rain and a nagging thought in the back of the mind that the Pimms & Ponies comfort of the St. Leger would have been a better choice that weekend, Scunny snatched three points to further their upturn in fortunes against us in recent seasons.
One key thing to note though: according to the FA website, the game will now take place on Sunday 3rd December at 2pm, although at time of writing that has not been confirmed by either club. This will be due to the BBC presenting their now customary Sunday afternoon deluxe edition of FA Cup Final Score, with anyone not able to get to the game able to view highlights as they happen from Rovers’ game and around 7-8 others from the cup that day.
Come Back, Lads
Our recent switch to one up front has been an unusual transition, especially with Fergie usually steadfast in his desire to play with two central strikers no matter what the formation is behind them. This has been partially enforced due to the injury suffered by Alfie May a month ago. The fan favourite is on the comeback trail now, however, which is great news for all concerned because the energy and hustle he brings to the attacking line transforms the way we play and allows John Marquis to go about his own game more comfortably. This is doubly important with deputy strikers Andy Williams and Liam Mandeville both failing to impress so far this season for different reasons.
Buzzing to be back out on the training ground running and shooting today not long now till I’m… https://t.co/kMe2aVl9Nt — Alfie May (@alfiemay) November 13, 2017
In addition to May, Will Longbottom is back in first team training although progress remains slow on Luke McCullough, who has suffered a number of injury setbacks since recovering from a serious knee problem that ruled him out of most of our League Two promotion campaign. And what of Alex Kiwomya? The Chelsea starlet was brought in amid a bit of a buzz in the summer but was soon struck down by the serious auto-immune disease Guillem-Barre Syndrome, and could now be able to feature in the New Year, despite initial fears he may not be fit until next season if at all. Reports are that he is back on the grass and doing strength work in the gym to get back towards the physical level required to play at professional level.
First time back on the grass today since July 🤙🏾⚽️ feeling good. — Alexander Kiwomya (@Golden_Kiwomya) November 6, 2017
I think I speak for everyone when I say that we will all be happy if and when young Kiwomya gets back to full health and fitness.
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