Rovers Round-Up: 24/11
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
MK Dons Awaits
Our next game sees us host Milton Keynes Dons tomorrow, with the game given added importance by the manner of the 3-0 defeat to Wigan last time out. That defeat made it no win in three league games, although there were positives in both drawn outings prior to Tuesday night. Rovers go into the game in 18th position in the table, having earned 20 points from 19 games. MK Dons are in 13th with 24 points, but have a similar goals for/against record, netting only two more than our goal-shy selves and conceding three more. It has been a decent month for Robbie Neilson’s side, draws with Charlton and Southend following a home win over Fleetwood, but they did lose their two previous away games to the Charlton game, and haven’t won on the road in League One since last September when they defeated Bury, which also happens to be the scene of Rovers’ last win.
John Marquis will probably have to lead the line on his own again, with Andy Williams injured after coming off the bench at Wigan, whilst Darren Ferguson may look to freshen things up behind the front line by restoring Ben Whiteman to the starting line-up. MK Dons welcome back a trio of players who served one-game suspensions in their last match, including talented midfielder Ed Upson. Kieran Agard is the man of the moment having scored three goals in the last two games, including a last-gasp equaliser at Charlton a week ago. He and Chuks Aneke will be a handful to deal with in attack, whilst the likes of Alex Gilbey and Jake Forster-Caskey are no mugs at this level in the middle of the park either.
Williams Joins Injury List
Our striker woes were documented in more depth in our last article, No Joy in Lancashire for Goal-Shy Rovers, but the issue became even more pressing yesterday with the news that the injury suffered by substitute forward Andy Williams in the defeat to Wigan on Tuesday night was a serious one. The Rovers #11 will be out for up to four months with an ankle injury, leaving us down to three senior strikers. One of those three, Alfie May, is still recovering from a hernia problem despite being back in light training, and another in Liam Mandeville has struggled to maintain peak fitness or find form when in the side this season. That leaves the burden squarely on the shoulders of John Marquis, who is without a goal in six league games and has missed some excellent chances in recent games. Can he find a way to break that duck and propel us up the table starting tomorrow?
Matty Blair: Strength in Adversity
Rovers winger Matty Blair has been speaking to the media this week about his struggle to come to terms with the tragic loss of his brother Ross, who passed away in July. Blair gave a very moving and candid interview to The Star, discussing his need to step away from football for a little bit to begin understanding the grief he has been dealing with, thanking the manager and all at the club for their continuing support through this unimaginably difficult time for him and his family. He also told the BBC that he “didn’t even feel as if I could walk, let alone run or play football”, so it is with great admiration that we can support him in his comeback to the first team since taking that much needed time off.
Opening up about this process is important not only for Matty, but for everyone to be made aware of the effect that mental health issues can cause on our personal and professional lives. I think I can safely speak for all Doncaster Rovers supporters when I say that we are grateful to have Matty back in the fold and will continue to do everything we can to support him.
Rainbow Laces Campaign
Football in England has come together to support and promote Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign to raise awareness of the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and support the aim of “making sport everyone’s game”. This will involve specially themed rainbow-coloured boot laces and captain’s armbands, as well as pitch flags, timing boards and other items seen around every football stadium each week. Clubs are also joining in with special rainbow featured club programmes and crests, and Doncaster Rovers are of course taking part in all of this at this weekend’s home game against MK Dons.
The campaign aims to promote inclusion and awareness of the LGBT community within sport, something which is very important today as the last taboos of sport and society as a whole are brought into the public consciousness more and more. Many sports and organisations, from the Premier League to the ECB, British Cycling and beyond, are committing to Stonewall’s campaign to help tackle homophobia, transphobia and biphobia which unfortunately does still exist across all sectors of our world, and particularly is still a problem within sport and football. For more information on the campaign and the causes supported by Stonewall, including Rainbow Laces, visit their website here.
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