'Welcome to League Two' - Why trips to Accrington Stanley will always be met with trepidation by Doncaster Rovers

Accrington Stanley v Doncaster Rovers Accrington Stanley v Doncaster Rovers
Accrington Stanley v Doncaster Rovers
It was an occasion that brought one particular quip from plenty connected to Doncaster Rovers.

Welcome to League Two.

Rovers opened their return to the fourth tier for the first time in 12 years with a trip to Accrington Stanley on August 4, 2016.

And they returned home with no illusions about how difficult a task escaping back to League One would be, after a severe culture shock and a humbling 3-2 defeat.

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Andy Williams celebrates his equaliser for Rovers at AccringtonAndy Williams celebrates his equaliser for Rovers at Accrington
Andy Williams celebrates his equaliser for Rovers at Accrington

It would not have been a visit many of a Rovers persuasion would have relished, had they been making it as scheduled this weekend.

Future fixtures in the Lancashire town will make plenty recall that warm summer day in 2016.

Rovers - who just two years earlier had been visiting the likes of the King Power Stadium and the AMEX in the Championship - were giving a sobering wake-up call of how far they had fallen.

The squad changed in a Portakabin mere feet away from the pitch, rotund journalists squashed into the tightest of press boxes, fans sampled as basic facilities as could be expected in the Football League.

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Then-Rovers boss Darren Ferguson, while very disappointed in his side’s performance, refused afterwards to accept suggestions the defeat and day as a whole was in fact a wake-up call.

He was the only one not keen to express such a view.

But as Rovers quickly got into the swing of things before powering to promotion, it was hard to look at the fixture and feel it was the perfect one to put them in the right mindset for tackling the challenge.

The facilities aside, a new look Rovers side - featuring five debutants including John Marquis and Matty Blair - were put through their paces by a hard working and industrious Accrington side that would never simply roll over on home turf.

Twice Rovers had to battle back from behind with goals from Tommy Rowe and Andy Williams - who also missed an early penalty.

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But wastefulness in front of goal cost them dearly, and allowed battling Accrington to snatch all three points with Sean McConville’s excellent last minute curling volley.

Rovers returned to League Two as big hitters, determined to ensure their stay in the division would be as short as possible.

But they were given a quick and clear message that they could not just turn up and expect to win each week.

It was a difficult but important opening day in a big season for Rovers. And it ensured subsequent visits to Accrington will always be met with a degree of trepidation.

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