Another busy week in Doncaster’s sporting diary started a week last Tuesday as Rovers failed to avenge last season’s late defeat at Millwall as they lost by the odd goal in five in their Championship clash at The New Den.
A second goal by Billy Sharp, who had earlier converted a first half penalty, gave Rovers hope that they could snatch a result, but the Lions held out to claim victory in a relegation six-pointer.
WEDNESDAY: Dean Saunders revealed that veteran Senegal defender Lamine Diatta was training with the club and that he hoped to tie up a deal for the 36 year-old in time for him to play against Southampton on Saturday.
THURSDAY: A French TV camera crew, who spent three days in the area covering the influx of French players at the club, were at Doncaster Rovers’ training ground for the weekly press conference.
Part of the footage they took, though I don’t know if they will use it, was of me interviewing 6’5” midfielder Herold Goulon.
FRIDAY: England haven’t fared too badly in recent years when it has come to draws for either the World Cup and European Championships - not that it has done them much good when it came to the latter stages, and they can’t have any argument about their group in next summer’s European Championships being held in Poland and Ukraine after managing to avoid the big guns.
SATURDAY: Rovers produced the shock result of the day in the Championship, beating leaders Southampton 1-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium. Given that it was a top-versus-bottom clash, I don’t think many people saw the result coming.
You certainly would have got very long odds, taking into account Rovers’ leaky defence, on them keeping a clean sheet against the top scorers in the division - though the absence of Saints’ top scorer Rickie Lambert probably helped even things out a little.
But former Doncaster Free Press sports editor Peter Catt, did predict a 1-0 scoreline when I asked him how he thought things would go before the game.
I must admit I didn’t share his optimism and thought that the best Rovers could hope for was a share of the spoils.The fans will no doubt be hoping that the result will boost the players’ confidence ahead of Saturday’s trip to Birmingham and that they will claim their first back-to-back Championship wins of the season.
Doncaster Knights suffered a surprise 17-15 Championship defeat at second-bottom Moseley, who had been on the end of a 62-20 thrashing at Nottingham the week before, at blustery Billesley Common
SUNDAY: Knights’ boss Brett Davey saved his criticism for the officials, whilst praising his players, when reflecting on the club’s defeat at Moseley.
I have come across many people in Brett’s position, in any number of sports over the years who have used match officials as an excuse for a poor showing, sometimes justified, sometimes not. But I’ve not found the Welshman to fit into that category which made his comments more relative.
It had been a very difficult week for the Castle Park club with young scrum-half Lee Audis fighting for his life following a car crash at the weekend, forefront in everyone’s minds.
Davey also had to reshuffle his back division, already lacking centre PJ Gidlow, at short notice when fly-half Tom Luke pulled out.
His analysis of the game took both factors into consideration.
As well as singling out skipper Chris Hallam, who defied a nasty throat infection to play, Davey also praised the efforts of full-back David McIllwaine in his first ever game at fly-half and young centre Fred Burdon, who made his starting debut.
The competition may have lost some of its glamour in recent years, but the draw for the third round of the FA Cup remains of the highlights of the football season.
Doncaster Rovers were handed a home draw with the winners of the Sutton United-Notts County second round tie which didn’t kick-off until a couple of hours after the televised draw at Wembley. Had Sutton, who lost 2-0, got through it would have evoked memories of Rovers’ five-year spell in the Conference. The two clubs met in the 1999-2000 campaign with both sides recording a 1-0 away win.
Rover boss Dean Saunders said that he was ‘delighted’ to see his former club Wrexham, who have now kept eight consecutive clean sheets, book their place in the third round draw with a 1-0 win at Brentford.
MONDAY: The Dons’ 2012 fixtures were published and, in what must be a first, they don’t play a single fellow Yorkshire side in their Championship One campaign which means that there will be a lot of travelling for Tony Miller’s side. It will, you would think, also have an adverse affect on home gates.
Fortunately, they were paired with three Yorkshire clubs, including derby rivals Sheffield Eagles, in the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup.
The fact that three of the four sides they will face, Gateshead being the other, play in the league above them, will make qualifying difficult but all of the games look winnable - Eagles being likely to pose the most problems.
The Dons have failed to qualify for the KO stages since being surprise finalists several years ago. With the Championship being reorganised in 2013 the league will be the priority I suspect.