Doncaster Rovers v Stoke City: Ferguson puts the reins on as cup fever grips Rovers

Darren Ferguson
Darren Ferguson

The old adage of ‘playing the game and not the occasion’ will ring true tomorrow when Doncaster Rovers aim to slay Premier League Stoke City in the FA Cup.

With the third round tie at the Keepmoat Stadium approaching sell-out status, there has been a palpable buzz in the build-up to this fixture that has been all too rare in recent seasons.

But with the stakes high, and Rovers keen to make amends for their Boxing Day no-show at home to Scunthorpe United, boss Darren Ferguson admits he will have to put the reins on his players when it comes to the game itself - simply because of the quality of the opposition.

“That’s especially the case on Saturday in front of a big crowd,” Ferguson told The Star.

“We spoke this week about it. We have to have a discipline about what we’re trying do. If we can go up against them, at times we will. At other times we’ll keep our shape.

“It’s the same as how we’d approach every game but at home the onus will be on us and the fans will probably want us to go right up against them and flying about them.

“But I think you’ve got to be a little bit more savvy than that because they will pick you off if you don’t do it together.

“We’ve spoken about how we want to play, and different ways we may want to play in terms of their personnel.

“But really it’s about just getting a good performance. The players are ready for it, there’s no question.”

Rovers’ squad were given Monday and Wednesday off this week to freshen up after a busy festive schedule - and they have been left in no doubt about the important context to tomorrow’s game.

“There’ll be a lot of fans coming who have probably not been for a while,” said Ferguson. “I’ve spoken to the players about it before.

“[After what happened against Scunthorpe] There’s a responsibility on us to put in a decent performance. There is a bit of a buzz around the place because the results have been good and it’s important we try and get as many bums on seats as possible.”