The Opposition View: Doncaster Rovers

Last updated : 02 February 2018 By Jim Bonner

What do you make of Doncaster's season now we're well over halfway through? 

I'm more than satisfied so far and will be very pleased if we finish the season in the position we are now. The aim has always been to stay up and consolidate our place back in League One and we seem on track to do that at the moment. 

What did Doncaster fans think of the club's transfer activity last month?

Maybe overall we wanted a little more but I don't think there's any reason to complain, we got Ben Whiteman signed on a permanent deal and kept hold of Jordan Houghton. The two centre halves we signed this week were emergency measures as our three first choice centre halves all went down injured in the space of 7 days.

Good luck scouting our defensive style for this game because you know as much as we do about it thanks to these two new boys who will almost definitely be making their debuts.

What did you make of Darren Ferguson's recent comments about referees?

I agreed with him fully and I think most people did, be that managers, players or fans. We have seen some truly dreadful officiating lately, worse than usual, and something needs to be done about it.

The FA knew he was right too because they gave him the bare minimum punishment they could once he pleaded guilty. Embarrassing for the governing body if you ask me.

Who are the key players in the current Rovers squad?

Undoubtedly John Marquis, who remains our talisman up front. You'll remember him well from last season of course, he's a very different prospect to the one that turned out for you a few times 5 years ago. He works tirelessly, harries defenders and gets goals.

Without him we are pretty benign up front, even when he isn't scoring goals because he is always contributing to different aspects of the attack. I would have also said our defensive duo Andy Butler and Joe Wright, but sadly for us both are now on the shelf for at least a month, which is a big blow considering how well they've both played this season.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your team?

We're a very tenacious outfit, we have shown recently that we won't give up in games, case in point the 96th minute equaliser at Scunthorpe after what had been a tough evening. We have a lot of creativity in midfield and when on-song there are few teams who can live with us in this respect. Tommy Rowe is a gem, James Coppinger can still run the show at 37 years old and Ben Whiteman has shown his versatility as both a holding midfielder and as a goal-scoring attacking player.

We are prone to defensive errors though, and that will only be more likely now our defence has been decimated by injury. We lack concentration at times and have been vulnerable from set pieces of late, which I'm sure your manager will want to try and exploit.

Pompey have picked up just one point since the turn of the year so do you fancy your chances of getting a result at Fratton Park on Saturday?

I do, not least because we have a good record against Portsmouth of late. We were comfortable in the reverse fixture at the Keepmoat (despite a ludicrous goalkeeping error) and were unbeaten in eight games before coming unstuck against Bristol Rovers last weekend. How we adapt to the new defensive shape will be a key factor in how well we do, but I'm confident we'll give it a good go and won't be intimidated by what always seems to be a good crowd at Fratton Park.

We won 2-1 in this fixture last season after all and are unbeaten against you in 5 games going back to that infamous 4-3 defeat in the Championship that relegated us in the most controversial fashion.

Predict the outcome of the game.

I'm confident, I think this result may surprise our fans. 2-1 Rovers once more.

And finally, how did you feel when Doncaster squandered the League Two title last season when they seemingly had it in the bag?

It was frustrating, quite disappointing but I soon put it into perspective. Our aim was to get promoted and we did that with 5 games to spare. We shouldn't have gone on such a bad run after that but come August we started on the same number of points as both yourselves and Plymouth so it doesn't matter. Some of our fans were much harsher on it, almost as if it ruined the promotion but it certainly didn't to me.