This morning when I looked at our five remaining games I marked this one out as the most difficult. By the time we play Luton and Cheltenham their fates will have been sealed, Orient are not what they were and I don’t fancy Swindon to get a result at the Keepmoat Stadium. Huddersfield on the other hand is a local derby away from home and to make matters worse they have just sacked their manager. Football sides, like schoolkids, always seem to respond better to the caretaker.
So with all that in mind, had you offered me a draw at Huddersfield at kick-off I probably would have taken it. Call me unadventurous if you like, but slow and steady wins the race doesn’t it? Avoid defeat today and I see us picking up twelve more points before the season ends. Sadly Carlisle don’t go for my theories much. Instead of remaining locked with Yeovil at Brunton Park they decided to score a last minute winner. So, a draw is not a terrible result for Rovers, but at 5 o’clock I was less happy with a point than I would have been at 3pm.
After offering up more clean sheets than your average nun at the start of the year Rovers defence now looks as frail and afraid as an abandoned kitten whenever forced to face a set-piece. Inevitably this was how Huddersfield took the lead. A long throw in was treated as if someone had hurled a grenade into Neil Sullivan’s penalty area and Robbie Williams took advantage to fire home the very loose ball. Thankfully further goals have saved you from numerous ‘Let Me Entertain You’, ‘Rock ‘DJ’ and so forth puns.
Rovers created a couple of openings themselves but this half certainly belonged to the home side who were unlucky not to be further in front at the break; Jon Worthington coming the closest to adding to the home side’s tally when he hit a post, but Sullivan was also called on to deny Michael Collins on a couple of occasions. In the past Sean O’Driscoll has been criticised for, well for everything really, but certainly for not making substitutions early enough. Today he didn’t even wait for the first non-specific ‘Make a Change!’ shout from the Rovers followers before overhauling his strikeforce. Gareth Taylor and Mark McCammon replaced Paul Heffernana and Jason Price before the first half was out.
O’Driscoll’s bravery seemed to be rewarded as Rovers, led by Paul Green, began the second half on the attack. Sub McCammon pulled one shot wide and Green himself was unlucky not to find the net himself. Thankfully the breakthrough came moments later as Green powered down the right and from the byline cut back for Gareth Taylor and the Welshman made no mistake to score his first Rovers goal and level the match. At this point it seemed like there could be only one winner, but football rarely is that straight forward.
On the hour mark came a double blow; Chris Brandon broke through only to be knocked off the ball by Matt Mills on the edge of the box. Mills, deemed to have prevented a goal-scoring opportunity was dismissed and from the resulting free-kick Huddersfield took the lead as Andy Holdsworth struck it low, hard, and straight into the far bottom corner. 2-1 down and with only ten men, this wasn’t how the afternoon was supposed to pan out.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Rovers continued to push and both sub Stuart Elliott and McCammon forced saves from Glennon. Then with six minutes to go came a lifeline; Jamie Coppinger played in Green and Rovers longest serving player finished emphatically with a glorious angled drive. A point salvaged was better than had seemed possible with thirty minutes to go; the remaining four games will show just how much of a difference it will make.
Huddersfield Town line-up (4-4-2): Matt Glennon; Andy Holdsworth, David Mirfin, Robert Page, Nathan Clarke; Robbie Williams (Joe Skarz), Michael Collins, Jon Worthington, James Berrett; Chris Brandon, Andy Booth
subs not used: Frank Sinclair, Luke Beckett, Marvin Kamara, Alex Smithies
booked: Jon Worthington, Robert Page, Andy Holdsworth, James Berrett, Joe Skarz
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Matt Mills, Stephen Roberts, Gareth Roberts; Paul Green, Brian Stock, Richie Wellens (Stuart Elliott); James Coppinger; Jason Price (Gareth Taylor), Paul Heffernan (Mark McCammon)
subs not used: James Hayter, Sean McDaid
sent off: Matt Mills (prevention of a goalscoring opportunity)