Paul Goodwin: Relaxed Rovers have nothing to lose in FA Cup tie
A little break from the rigours of League Two might have come along at just the right time.
And Doncaster Rovers have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain from an FA Cup trip to Oldham Athletic and Checkatrade Trophy assignment with Port Vale.
After a disappointing end to an excellent October, the next two games are a perfect opportunity for Darren Ferguson to freshen things up and perhaps continue his recent experimentation with the formation.
There’s no getting away from the fact that these two competitions are a mere sideshow to the main objective of securing promotion back to League One at the first time of asking.
But, while the Checkatrade Trophy has become a surprisingly useful platform for the club’s inexperienced youngsters, the FA Cup this weekend could inject a fresh wave of freedom and confidence into a squad left slightly reeling from the defeat at Blackpool and self-inflicted draw with Wycombe Wanderers.
And whatever team Ferguson fields at Oldham - and it looks set to be much-changed - they will have a decent chance of springing a surprise against their third tier hosts.
In fact, if Rovers were to win on Saturday it would hardly go down as a big shock.
Oldham’s players were given short shrift by the travelling fans that watched them lose in timid fashion at Rochdale at the weekend.
As opposed to free-scoring and high-flying Doncaster, the struggling Latics are the joint lowest scorers in the Football League (9) and have failed to score in 11 of their 16 league games this season - leaving them in the relegation zone and staring at the prospect of a difficult winter.
Stephen Robinson’s side will be under pressure to perform and avoid the banana skin this weekend.
Whereas Rovers, who could come up against former midfielder Paul Green, can approach the game in a relaxed mood knowing that defeat is far from the end of the world.
That psychology might just give Rovers a slight advantage, and while a few senior players might be rested there should be no lack of motivation for the fringe men given a chance to impress.