Doncaster Rovers: Why progression in FA Cup has been even more important for Moore's men
Progression in cup competitions is an important part of any season for many football clubs – but it currently means a little more for Doncaster Rovers.
With a raft of postponements and cancellations over the first three and a half months of the campaign, Rovers have struggled for the regular rhythm of matches that keep players and staff in a routine.
So the prospect of another blank weekend this week was something the club were keen to guard against – making progression to the second round of the FA Cup essential.
And skipper Ben Whiteman says everyone at the club has welcomed Sunday’s trip to Gillingham.
“I know it sounds stupid but we actually want some games going into the Christmas period,” Whiteman said.
“It’s three now that have been called off and we just want to get that rhythm, see the pictures and see the games.
“It’s a massive thing in football.
“I remember when I was injured last season and I came back in that game at Sunderland and I felt so unfit.
“You feel so off it. It's a massive thing and you just need the games.
“We need the rhythm because we are a footballing side. We do like to play it about the park and if we can’t get the games it’s going to be difficult.
“We’re a very good team once we're on it. I thought we showed that in the second half against Wimbledon.”
That game against Wimbledon – the first round replay which Rovers won 2-0 – was their first match in ten days after the clash with Shrewsbury Town was postponed due to international call-ups for the Shropshire side.
The Shrewsbury game is still to be rearranged, as is the trip to Tranmere Rovers which fell foul of torrential rains, while the visit to Bolton Wanderers remains on hold due to the on-going wrangling with the EFL.
Had Rovers not beaten Wimbledon, they would have had another blank weekend with both Shrewsbury and Tranmere advancing in the FA Cup.
Sunday’s hosts Gillingham have endured patchy form of late, with two wins from their last seven matches in League One.
Rovers boss Darren Moore says his side will have to be at their best to progress past Steve Evans’ robust Gills outfit.
“It’s a good game for both teams,” Moore said.
“I’m looking forward to getting down there. It’s going to be a tough one.
“They're a very robust, physical outfit.
“They’re hard working – Steve has them going.
“I remember playing them at the start of the season and drawing, and it was a difficult game but one where my players showed good resilience and character to get back into the game.
“They set a precedence for what we’re all about.
“We’re a very different team than we were then, so we look forward to it.
“If we are going to progress to the third round then we’re going to have to be at our absolute best to do that.
“I’m sure they’ll be gung-ho.”