Doncaster Rovers v Cardiff City: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

Rovers' Martin Woods has a volley on goal on his return against County. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Martin Woods has a volley on goal on his return against County. Picture: Andrew Roe

THERE were very few positives to take out of Saturday’s shocking FA Cup exit - but Rovers simply have to stay upbeat ahead of this weekend’s clash with Cardiff City.

The last thing Doncaster need right now, at such a vital stage in the season, is to feel sorry for themselves.

And I don’t think they will.

Rovers usually reserve their best for the big boys.

And if they can repeat the type of Championship performance that has accounted for Southampton, Leicester and then Barnsley in the last three home games, they can ruffle the Bluebirds’ feathers.

The defeat against Notts County should not be brushed under the carpet, particularly the schoolboy set piece defending that led to the opening goal.

But it is one of those games that needs to be forgotten about quickly.

Rovers need to put it behind them and focus on survival.

One can only imagine how difficult it has been for Dean Saunders to prepare a team for this weekend, presumably not knowing whether Billy Sharp will be available to lead the attack.

The sooner Billy’s situation is sorted out one way or another, the better for everyone concerned.

And Saunders will be desperate to call upon the club’s talisman this weekend after Mamadou Bagayoko and James Hayter both failed to fire in the FA Cup.

Billy’s absence seemed to affect the performance and the atmosphere on Saturday.

Should he line-up in the red and white hoops this weekend you can only imagine the buzz that will be generated at the Keepmoat Stadium.

John Oster staked his claim for a recall to the starting line-up by impressing as a second half substitute against the Magpies.

Along with the return of long-term injury victim Martin Woods, it was perhaps the only positive to take out of the game on Saturday.

Oster stroked the ball around confidently and made one or two things happen when he was in possession.

But Saunders needs to find the right balance between craft and graft against Cardiff.

Rovers cannot afford to be chasing the game because the Bluebirds possess too much quality on the break.

So they simply have to get in Cardiff’s faces - or face the consequences.

Goodwin’s verdict: Rovers must rediscover their high-intensity approach. They can’t allow Cardiff space and time on the ball. Otherwise it will be a very difficult afternoon.

Prediction: Rovers 1 Cardiff 1