Countdown to Next Match
by Adam Stubbings
As the Tour de Yorkshire rolls into town this weekend, football matters turn west as Rovers look to navigate the penultimate stage of an unlikely race to survival.
Victory over Coventry last Saturday put us in the remarkable position of being able to guarantee our run in this relegation battle continues on to the final day. It is now seven points from three games after the turnaround finally began, and Rovers will feel that their next opponents Crewe are there for the taking.
The Alex are rock bottom of the league, relegated a couple of weeks ago and now certain to finish in 24th place. They haven't won in fifteen outings dating back to February, and have managed just six victories in the league all season.
But Rovers know a thing or two about wretched runs and how to end them. Two weeks ago, we humbled the division's best side in Wigan and have found belief, consistency and that crucial cutting edge to give ourselves a fighting chance. Rovers need to overhaul two teams to survive, and there remain four within reach.
Darren Ferguson will also be able to draw on the never-say-die spirit that saw us come from 2-1 down in injury time to remarkably win the reverse fixture back at the Keepmoat in December, one of the most incredible finishes in the history of the stadium. Rovers are now on a four match unbeaten run against Crewe, and should be confident of making it five tomorrow afternoon.
Gary McSheffrey is out for the season after going off injured against former club Coventry, meaning Nathan Tyson will have to fill the considerable boots of a man who brought toughness, experience and assists aplenty to the team, whilst Richard Chaplow is also out injured after a good run of form, but he may return for the final game against Burton.
by Adam Stubbings
It finally happened. Doncaster Rovers won a game of football, but the job is far from done. We still face an almighty task to survive relegation from League One at the end of the season, and anything less than a second successive victory against Chesterfield in midweek will surely signal certain defeat in the battle against the drop.
Victory on Saturday against league leaders Wigan was easily the most impressive result of a miserable season for Rovers, who have toiled for months without finding a way to take three points from a game. Here, the best team in the league were despatched in a clinical second half in which we demonstrated steely determination, quality in the final third and stern resistance in defence.
All of these qualities have clearly been there in these players all year, they just haven't shown it. With this win under their belts they must now believe in their ability to pull off a miracle escape and return from the brink of oblivion to stay in the division, starting with Tuesday's trip to the Proact Stadium.
The Spireites have pulled away from the bottom four of late but are not quite out of the woods yet. A win against us here would take them to the magical 52 point barrier that teams aspire to for safety, so they will be eager to get back to winning ways after seeing their momentum halted by a meek 3-0 home loss to fellow local rivals Sheffield United at the weekend.
Prior to that defeat they won back-to-back games but the 4-2 win over Port Vale is their only home maximum in five matches, which also included a heavy loss to Walsall and failure to beat two other struggling sides in Fleetwood and Blackpool. Danny Wilson's side do have that cushion to the bottom four now though so should feel slightly more relaxed about their chances of staying up now.
But the signs are good looking back on previous meetings between the clubs. Rovers are unbeaten in eight matches stretching back to a 1-0 loss at Belle Vue in February 2005 in our first season together in a decade, and in the last clash between the sides Rovers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners on a cold Tuesday night last November that proved one of the death blows for former Rovers boss Dean Saunders' time in charge of Chesterfield.
Consistency could be the key as a settled midfield has seen improved performances in recent matches from Rovers, with the only likely change seeing Cedric Evina start in place of the hapless Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, who was hooked at half time after several errors in the build-up to Wigan's goal.
If we can take heart and confidence from the second half showing last time out, we surely stand a good chance of extending our survival hopes into next weekend with another win here. All we can do is believe.
by Adam Stubbings
The end is nigh for Rovers after yet another miserable defeat, but at least it means there is almost nothing to lose as we welcome leaders Wigan to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.
A 1-0 loss at Bury last week, our 12th in 14 matches, punctuated only by two home draws as this diabolical winless streak reaches a tally of 16, just about killed off any remaining modicum of optimism. Remarkably, of those 12 losses 75% have been by a single goal, but pouring over the stats now doesn't even begin to explain the long fall off an almighty cliff that has ruined the club's season.
The players haven't been good enough. They haven't shown enough guile, mental fortitude or physical ability to keep us in League One, and that is a sad state of affairs. The manager has failed time after time to find a way to turn things around, and now we face the all too real prospect of a season back in the basement.
So let us enjoy mixing it up with a talented football team at least once or twice more. Wigan Athletic come to South Yorkshire on a run that looks likely to take them to the title, giving the 2013 FA Cup winners an immediate return to the Championship.
This fixture should appear on thousands of betting accumulators this weekend, with the table-toppers currently on a remarkable 20 game unbeaten run that has seen them soar up the standings and usurp long-time leaders Burton for 1st place. They now sit four points clear and are potentially only two games away from promotion, the same number of games that Rovers sit precariously away from certain relegation.
But for those still holding on to that last smidgen of hope, know that Doncaster Rovers haven't lost to Wigan in almost 20 years. You have to go back to December 1996 for our last loss to the Latics, a 4-1 result that helped Wigan on their way to winning the Division Three title on goals scored, curiously pipping Fulham to the post despite having an inferior goal difference.
Granted there have been only five meetings since then, but the two most recent might give Rovers fans some cause for hope. We acquitted ourselves very well in a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture back in August, complete with some Sunday sun, and on the visitors' only previous trip to the Keepmoat Stadium, when they were the reigning FA Cup holders, we blew them away 3-0.
In light of this, maybe placing a bet on the most unlikely of Rovers wins here might not be such a bad idea. Much like the team itself at this point, what have you got to lose?
The financial statements up to the 30th June 2015 for Patienceform Ltd (the trading name of DRFC) have been completed and were passed to the Viking Supporters Co-Operative for analysis, the results of which can be downloaded here: http://www.drfc-vsc.co.uk/files/2015_Patienceform_Accounts.pdf
The accounts demonstrate an expected change in the relationship between Patienceform and Club Doncaster. As is common knowledge, the Club Doncaster brand aims to improve and enhance the business of DRFC as a whole by generating more revenue and shared efficiencies across Doncasterís sporting clubs. This is further demonstrated in the provision of the loan from Club Doncaster to Patienceform.
It is anticipated that the future ownership of Patienceform will move to Club Doncaster in the near future. This will tie the two together in a parent-subsidiary relationship. There are many benefits to the club of this including an increase in revenue and cashflow, vital for both business and footballing growth (in relation to salary caps etc). At this point it is anticipated that a favourable restructure of all held loans will be commenced.
Overall the financial situation of the club is in line with expectations. As ever the club relies heavily on financial backing from the owners in order to retain the key figure of going concern.
by Adam Stubbings
After a cruel blow in injury time at Rochdale last week, Rovers head west again to face Bury as the fat lady sharpens her vocal chords in anticipation.
Seconds away from a first win in three months, Rovers failed to hold out for a 2-1 win away at play-off chasing Rochdale, held instead and slipping further away from safety. Matters only got worse in midweek as relegation rivals Fleetwood and Oldham both won, Rovers loanee Curtis Main even getting on the scoresheet for the Latics to rub further salt into the wounds.
These events have left the club seven points adrift of safety with only six games to go, facing up to the reality that this wretched run since the turn of the year is likely to cost us our place in League One. Even four wins from the final six games may not be enough now, but at least we finally saw some fight in the players in Saturday's draw.
Bury host the Reds next, without a win in six games themselves but just about at the safety line now on 51 points. A tally that Rovers can only reach if they win four and draw one of the half a dozen fixtures left, but the number which Darren Ferguson and his team must aspire to reach. Defeat here might just be the final death knell with the campaign on life support for weeks already.
Two of our three remaining home games are against the current top two in the league, but away trips to Bury, Chesterfield and bottom club Crewe must all be seen as winnable. Victory at Gigg Lane may not ultimately help us to safety but it could at least give us a fighting chance into these games and that is all Rovers fans can cling onto now.
Following a tumultuous week at the club, it will be nice to focus on matters on the pitch once more, even if things can't get much bleaker at this point. We have passed the 'now or never' stage of the crisis, and it is time to throw everything available at the wall to see what might stick.