Football can be cruel

Desperate to turn it around: Sean O'Driscoll wants to rectify Doncaster Rovers slump in fortunes
Desperate to turn it around: Sean O'Driscoll wants to rectify Doncaster Rovers slump in fortunes
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TUESDAY, August 23: Doncaster Rovers home Championship game against Nottingham Forest underlined the fact that sport can be so cruel.

It was a travesty of justice that Rovers finished a game they dominated territorially for long periods empty handed. I suspect that if just one of the three injured strikers watching the match from the press room had been playing it might have been a different story.

THURSDAY: Doncaster Rovers Belles, who have now gone eight WSL games without a win, had their hopes of an historic first double in the new league dashed by vesting Lincoln Ladies.

Beaten 1-0 by Belles in their opening game at Sincil Bank, Lincoln extracted their revenge in an entertaining game, winning 3-0.

The scoreline probably did Belles few favours because apart from the fact that Lincoln looked to have more of a cutting edge for the majority of the game there wasn’t that much between the two sides.

That didn’t stop team boss John Buckley holding a lengthy post-match inquest in the dressing room.

SATURDAY: Derby County’s Pride Park is one the easiest of Championship grounds to find from Doncaster but I still ended up missing the turn-off on the A52.

Unfortunately for those Doncaster supporters who made the trip to Pride Park, which has been a happy hunting ground for Rovers in recent seasons, Sean O’Driscoll’s men also lost their way.

For the first time this season Rovers were second best all over the pitch against a revitalised Derby side whose thoroughly deserved 3-0 win which saw them register their best start to a season for over 100 years. Rovers on the other hand have now lost four Championship games in a row - their worst start for well over a decade.

Rovers, whose options were strictly limited, played both new loan signings Reece Brown and Milan Lalkovic.

Doncaster Knights completed their pre-season campaign with a 100% record, beating Welsh Premier League outfit Bedwas 13-10.

SUNDAY: I had a sneaky feeling that Workington Town would beat the Dons in their crucial Championship One promotion clash at the Keepmoat Stadium, even though Tony Miller’s side had beaten the Cumbrians twice and went into it on the back of an impressive 20-18 win over Whitehaven a week earlier.

I remember being impressed by Workington (one of two teams the Dons play three times this season as a result of Blackpool dropping out of the league) in a 26-16 defeat at the Keepmoat in March.

But with the two sides, along with Keighley, only separated by points difference in second spot with two games to go, I must admit that I didn’t anticipate the 37-6 scoreline in Town’s favour.

Admittedly the Dons didn’t do themselves any favours by their indiscipline and unforced handling errors, but I just felt on the day that Workington were too strong up front and were extremely well organised defensively.

They Dons lacked ideas close to the line and it wasn’t until the last minute that Dom Dee crossed for a try.

Dee was named sponsors’ man-of-the-match, but for me full-back Mick Butterfield was head and shoulders above everyone else.

He looked the one player consistently capable of breaching the line.

A month or so ago when the Dons were on a six-match winning sequence I fancied their prospects in the play-offs, now I’m not so sure.

The two Cumbrian sides, as will Keighley, will be hard to beat, whilst Rochdale and Oldham have both beaten the Dons this season.

TUESDAY: Not many people are backing Leeds Rhinos, who have had a very indifferent season by their own high standards to beat Wigan in Saturday’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

But Dons joint-owner and chief executive Carl Hall is.

Not only is Carl, a top-class centre in his day, tipping one of the four Yorkshire clubs he played for to win, but he has also predicted that either Leeds forwards Kevin Sinfield or Jamie Peacock will land the prestigious Lance Todd Trophy awarded to the man-of-the-match and voted for by members of the media covering the game.

Doncaster Rovers bowed off the Carling Cup trail after being beaten 2-1 by Championship rivals Leeds United at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But there were far more positives than negatives from a Rovers point of view and I’m sure that a lot of fans will have left the ground encouraged by what they had seen.

The game saw the return to action of striker James Hayter after a four-match lay-off with a knee injury, and he made up for lost time by scoring a second-minute goal which served to spark off an attacking frenzy of high-speed football.

It certainly impressed United No 2 and former Rovers’ favourite Glynn Snodin.

“They (Rovers) looked like Barcelona in the first half,” he told me after the game. “We could have been 3-0 down at half-time.

“We couldn’t handle their movement and their passing and we were just hanging on.

“They’ve been struggling to score recently but we knew they could play.”

Doncaster’s Commonwealth and European bantamweight champ Jamie McDonnell. who will be in action against British champion Stuart Hall at the Dome on Saturday week, was introduced to the crowd at half-time.

Jamie relinquished the title rather than defend it last year, but I’m sure that he will be re-united with it shortly.