As the year comes to an end you can be sure of a number of things, a last-minute dash to make plans for New Year’s Eve, the ultimate disappointment of those plans, and the end of year compilation piece. With our readership not quite sufficient to host a New Year’s bash we can only really supply one of those certainties, but we intend to do so in two parts as we give you our Top 10s of 2010. Tomorrow we will be looking at Rovers’ top ten moments of the past year, but before the main course comes the appetizer as we highlight our top 10 Doncaster Rovers goals of 2010.
10. Billy Sharp (vs Leicester City) 11th December
You’ll have been forgiven for wiping the events of the 11th December from your mind, but prior to ‘that’ penalty and a second half collapse of Australian cricket proportions things had been going quite well for Rovers, starting with this goal. Six minutes in and Jamie Coppinger’s run into the box was picked out by an excellent slide-rule pass from Shelton Martis enjoying his rebirth as a right-back. Coppinger chipped the ball into the middle and it was met on the penalty spot by an acrobatic Billy Sharp volley. A great goal and I still have a scar on my shin from celebrating it.
9. James Hayter (vs Preston North End) 9th March
Ninth place in the top ten goes to a goal which barely seemed to get the credit it deserved. March was a productive month for Rovers as for the most part the club remained unbeaten, this 1-1 draw at Preston representing the third game of a 6 match undefeated run that would see Doncaster considered as reasonable play-off contenders. James Hayter struck just before the half hour mark with a superb volley from the edge of the box, meeting an angled ball into the area with a sweeping strike across his body to find the bottom corner. A difficult skill perfectly executed.
8. Jamie Coppinger (vs Crystal Palace) 27th February
Few players have impressed as consistently for Rovers in the past twelve months as Jamie Coppinger and this strike against Crystal Palace is the first of two entries in this top ten for Rovers’ longest serving player. In a scrappy game, as they often are against Neil Warnock led sides, Coppinger provided the one high spot as he received the ball from a throw-in on the right hand side, jinked inside a couple of Palace defenders before curling a glorious left-foot shot into the far top corner.
7. James Hayter (vs Portsmouth) 13th November
Perhaps over-awed by their surroundings Rovers had been struggling to get to grips with Portsmouth in the early stages of this game, but as the first half wore on Doncaster began to steady themselves, gain in confidence and play the kind of football which makes you glad to be alive, culminating in this opening goal. Hayter started and finished the move, intercepting the ball back on the half-way line, flicking it over his man before laying off to Brian Stock who found John Oster. The midfielder found David Healy in space on the right and then broke forward himself as Healy advanced to deliver a low cross which Oster dummied, allowing it to reach Hayter who took one touch to control and another to find the net. The shocked silence in the home stands matched only by the pandemonium in the visitors’ end.
6. Jamie Coppinger (vs Norwich City) 14th September
It’s notable as I write this feature how many of these goals I rather annoyingly was not there in the flesh to witness. This goal is another which falls into that category but I know it was something special because my man in the West Stand not only remembered to text me to let me know about it, but also described it as being “unbelievably ace”. Coppinger picked up the ball midway in the Norwich half and let fly with a fantastic shot from distance that found the top right corner of the goal and put Rovers en route to the dizzy heights of 4th place in the Championship.
5. Jordan Mutch (vs Middlesbrough) 26th January
The one bright spot in a terrible evening at the office was this fantastic debut goal from Jordan Mutch. With James Hayter and John Oster missing following an incident in Doncaster town centre three days earlier and Brian Stock, Jason Shackell and Dean Shiels out injured a much weakened Rovers team struggled to cope with a ‘Boro side for whom all they struck seemed destined to find the net. Ten minutes from time though there was reason to cheer for the home fans as Mutch received the ball thirty yards from goal, took aim, and picked out the top corner of the South Stand goal in emphatic style. A strike which deserved to come on a much better occasion.
4. Gareth Roberts (vs Watford) 16th January
Gareth Roberts is a man who doesn’t score tap-ins. In the past he’s scored free-kicks and ludicrous lobs from the touchline for Rovers and its perhaps unsurprising that two of his three strikes in 2010 make it into this top ten. Rovers had already scored one impressive goal in this game – Coppinger back-healing Shiels in on goal – before Roberts struck seven minutes from time. Rovers have tried the corner straight to the man on the edge of the box routine a number of times but it’s rarely worked, and perhaps never as emphatically as this. Roberts looked to have delayed his strike too long as he allowed the ball to bounce, but somehow the full-back got his body over the ball to hit a swerving half-volley into the back of the net.
3. Gareth Roberts (vs Peterborough United) 16th March
Impressively Roberts would go on to hit an even better and more important strike exactly two months later. Away at bottom club Peterborough Rovers were trailing 1-0 with just over twenty minutes to play when they won a corner on the left flank. Martin Woods kept possession well before delivering a cross which was only cleared as far as the corner of the box. Before the ball could hit the ground it was met emphatically by Roberts who struck a glorious dipping volley into the far corner of Joe Lewis’ net to bring Rovers level in a game they would go on to win to keep the play-off dreams alive.
2. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (vs Derby County) 13th March
JET! Wooohoohoo woohoohooo! Jay Emmanuel-Thomas could well be one of my favourite ever Rovers loan signings. The showman our attacking football has often lacked. Sure he was a bit lazy, and he often failed to track back. But when he had the ball the Keepmoat Stadium collectively leaned forward as one and asked “Right, now what’s he going to do?” A friend of mine was covering this match against Derby in the press box and in the run up to half time he sent me a text message which simply said “JET = skills”. In the second half Emmanuel-Thomas put the icing on the cake with a goal for which the description ‘unstoppable’ was coined. I’ve said before that you can always judge the quality of a goal by the instant reaction of those watching it and the girlish screams of glee delivered by Nick, Matt and myself at the back of the West Stand will tell you this was an absolute belter.
1. Elliot Ward (vs Sheffield Wednesday) 16th February
So you’ve been signed on loan on a Monday afternoon, you’ve met your team-mates on Tuesday morning and by Tuesday evening you’re in the starting line-up for a local derby. How can you make an impact on your debut and endear yourself to the new fans? Score a goal? Yeah that’ll do it. Score a thunderous overhead kick that crashes in off the bar? Now you’re just being silly, you’re a centre-half there’s no way you could… oh.