Hartlepool United v Doncaster Rovers: Ferguson urges Rovers to pile pressure on Plymouth

Rovers won 2-1 when Hartlepool visited the Keepmoat Stadium in November.
Rovers won 2-1 when Hartlepool visited the Keepmoat Stadium in November.

Start hard, start fast, put the pressure on.

Those are the instructions Darren Ferguson will give his Rovers players on Saturday as he looks to swing the League Two title race back in their favour on the final day.

Rovers head to Hartlepool United second in the table after dropping off top spot for the first time in four months following three consecutive defeats.

Victory for Plymouth Argyle at Grimsby Town would see them win the title, while third placed Portsmouth remain in contention.

While their fate now lies in the hands of others as much as their own, Ferguson says what Rovers do can have an effect on how their rivals fare.

“The way I’ve looked at it and approached it, and we’ve had a meeting on Tuesday about it, is we need to go ahead,” Ferguson told the Free Press.

“We need to put as much pressure on Plymouth as possible.

“We want to make sure we start really aggressively, get in front and really put the pressure on Plymouth.

“I remember last season, when we played Burton here, and they needed a point to go up.

“Walsall needed to win to put pressure on them and they went 4-0 up after 30 minutes.

“I remember the look on Nigel Clough’s face. They were shocked and it really affected them.

“The game here ended up being a bit of a farce because we were down to nine men but you could see the effect the pressure had on them.

“If we can put pressure on Plymouth, who have to win, it gives us a chance.”

Saturday’s clash is not all about Rovers however.

Hosts Hartlepool must win if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation from the Football League. They trail Newport County by two points.

Ferguson says his players should expect a side as determined to get ahead as what his will be.

“They’ve had a right go and I will be expecting the same again,” he said.

“It’ll be a full house and it’ll be quite a hostile atmosphere because it can get quite lively up there.

“They’re a different team than they have been. They’ve played with two strikers, and it was virtually three on Saturday.

“Certainly, there’s a huge amount of pressure on Hartlepool and they’re not going to do anything other than having a right go at us.”

While looking to put pressure on others, Ferguson believes after toppling from top spot, Rovers now have less pressure on themselves than they have since before they began leading the division on January 2.

But he is keen for his players to finish the season with the same standards with which they have played the majority of it, particularly with the game being broadcast live on Sky.

He said: “I just want the players to do themselves justice and show everyone that we’ve shown twice on television previously how good a team we are.

“It’s a game where tough mental players will have to play.

“But saying that, the pressure is now off us a little bit.

“Let’s see how Plymouth handle the pressure.

“We’ve handled it for pretty much four months.

“We’re now the chaser and I think it makes it a bit easier.”