Rovers filled the break in their FA Cup-less fixture list with a trip to Manchester to face Sven Goran Eriksson’s City in a behind closed doors friendly match. With eleven days to kill between Rovers last outing against Walsall on New Years Day and this weekend’s visit of Carlisle United to the Keepmoat Stadium Sean O’Driscoll took his side west for a friendly match against a Manchester City XI. Although rumoured by many to be a smokescreen to sign City defender and recent Rovers loanee Matt Mills; the young centre half was wearing a sky blue shirt when the game began.
In a game played over three thirty minute thirds O’Driscoll tested three different line-ups for the Rovers, with a number of youth team players (Andrew Boyce, Joe Conkleton, Charles Fisher and Andrew Hawksworth) all given a run out in the final third. Despite a 3-0 defeat overall there were clearly encouraging signs for O’Driscoll, not least in the way his strongest line-up took the game to City in the opening third. Despite going a goal down early on Rovers bossed the first thirty minutes with Paul Green, Martin Woods, and Mark Wilson all coming close and James Hayter finding the net with, to quote the official website, ‘a truly stunning overhead kick’ only to be ruled out for offside.