Typical, you wait ages for a reason to jump and shout about and then three come along when you’re not even at the match. Work commitments (yes, this isn’t the day job you’ll be glad to hear) meant I was unable to attend this game. And I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but when I can’t be at the game whilst I obviously want a Rovers win, there is a significant part of me that secretly couldn’t care about the result as long as I don’t really miss anything.
In the past decade I’ve not missed many Rovers home games, but those on the ‘not seen’ list do include two 5-4 score-lines. So thanks to Dover and Yeovil I now just spend the duration of matches I cannot attend holding out for a 1-0 win, secured with a distinctly boring goal, a tap in from a set-piece or a routine header. I rarely seem to get it, but at least after listening in on the radio on Saturday afternoon and the range of yells and hollas that caused I have at least ensured that students will be staying away from my office this term, ‘the weird shouty angry office’ as its now known.
Anyway, enough about me, on with the show, and a significant and worrying change to the line-up. There is a Stock shortage at Rovers; Brian is injured and is likely to be so for over a month. Can a clock work without the second hand? I suppose the answer is yes but it’s not as easy to tell if its moving as it should be. Sean O’Driscoll decided to counter the loss of his side’s fulcrum by moving to a back five and Sam Hird returned in Stock’s place.
Waide Fairhusrt, a scorer at West Brom on his full league debut retained his place up front with Billy Sharp and it was he who made the first break through. John Spicer and Gareth Roberts exchanged passes on the left before it was rolled back to Jason Shackell, who hoisted a high cross toward the edge of the six yard box. Richard Wright, Damian Delaney and Fairhurst all went for the ball, but none made it. The trio came down together in a heap, but Fairhurst was up quickest and hooked the free ball into the empty net from eight yards to join a select band of Rovers players to score on both their away and home full league debuts.
Ipswich were behind, but far from beaten and the visitors would go on to have the better of the first half. Jon Walters had the ball in the net at one point but had clearly been offside. A couple of minutes later and a Lee Martin cross from the left was met by Paulo Counago but his header went just wide of the post. Midfielder Alan Quinn, a scorer on this ground for Sheffield United last season also came close with a long range effort that was saved by Neil Sullivan.
Rovers were creating further chances too as John Oster forced a save from Richard Wright, with the former England keeper turning the ball out for a corner. Whilst Martin Woods also threatened from distance but his effort was blocked by Alex Bruce. Walters had a chance to have the ball in the net for real when he was played in the clear only to skew his shot wide, whilst the final chance of the half also went the way of the visitors as Tommy Smith headed wide. Rovers held out though and led, perhaps a little fortuitously, 1-0 at the break.
After a fairly tame opening twenty minutes to the second half Ipswich had a great chance to draw level as Grant Leadbitter played in Bruce, but the latter failed to connect . However, this was just an indicator of what was to come as, suddenly, everything everywhere was goals, goals, goals. First to strike were Ipswich as they drew level taking advantage of some poor defending from the Rovers. The home side failed miserably to clear a cross from Delaney on the left and the ball fell to Jack Colbeck on the edge of the area with the substitute picking out the bottom corner on the half volley. Eight minutes later, and after a missed header from Shackell it was 2-1 to Rovers.
Every two or three games last year we were treated to the oft practiced never successful corner routine between Brian Stock and Richie Wellens where the ball would be played straight out to the edge of the box for the other to volley goalwards. Today it finally came off, and typically neither of its long term practitioners were involved. Oster took the corner on the Rovers right arrowing the ball out to Woods who took one touch to control and his second to strike the ball low and in from all of twenty-five yards to but Rovers back in front and for added enjoyment just as Viva Rovers’ favourite Geoff was launching into another tirade against him as well.
The lead didn’t last long as Ipswich hit back again inside four minutes. Lee Martin’s left wing free-kick was met by Tamas Priskin, the first in a queue of Town players, who nodded home the equaliser from close range. Two minutes later the visitors were in front from another ball into the box, this time a corner from the Ipswich right. Priskin met the original delivery but was denied by the crossbar, again Rovers struggled to clear and Martin turned it home from close range.
Still it was not over though and this time Rovers drew level with the fourth goal in a hectic ten minutes. Woods sprayed a glorious crossfield ball out to Roberts on the left who in turn knocked it back to Quinton Fortune. Not long on as a sub Fortune shaped to hit it with his left, but feigned inside and curled a fantastic dipping right foot shot from the edge of the box into the far top corner. A strike right out of the top drawer, you know, the one where he keeps his extra-high shorts.
Three all with six minutes still to play and there were chances for more. Priskin was denied a second goal by a point blank save from Sullivan, whilst Paul Heffernan and Billy Sharp were both denied at the other end by Wright. Ipswich certainly merited something out of the game and in a match which brought a far from convincing Rovers defensive display perhaps Rovers fans should be appreciative of a point, especially one secured in such entertaining fashion.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (5-3-2):Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Adam Lockwood, Jason Shackell, Sam Hird (Quinton Fortune), Gareth Roberts; John Spicer (Paul Heffernan), John Oster, Martin Woods; Waide Fairhurst (Dean Shiels), Billy Sharp
subs not used:Ben Smith, James O’Connor, Byron Webster, Mark Wilson
Ipswich Town line-up (4-4-2):Richard Wright; Liam Rosenior, Alex Bruce, Tommy Smith, Damian Delaney; Carlos Edwards (Jamie Peters), Grant Leadbitter, Alan Quinn (jack Colbeck), Lee Martin; Pablo Counago, Jon Walters (Tamas Priskin)
subs not used:Arran Lee-Barrett, Pim Balkestein, Liam Trotter, John tead